Nan (น่าน) Thailand

Nan – A Hidden City on a River Valley of Thailand

Most civilization in the past usually formed around some important geological spots. There are quite a few spots that a civilization usually begins its city, especially river valleys. Thailand is no different from those civilizations in the world history. Nan is a province located in northern region of Thailand near the border of Laos. Like most civilization, Nan is situated on the remote valley of Nan River which is one of the northern river valleys of Thailand.

 

General Information of Nan

The province itself has many forests and trees which you could easily when you walk or tour around the province. Its land is also suitable for agriculture and the people of Nan has been doing it for many generations since when the province was a part of Sukhothai Kingdom. This means that Nan have a long history that ultimately made up the tradition and culture that we see in the present day.

How to get there

There are many different ways you can choose to get here. The fastest way is to travel by plane which takes around an hour to get here. There are also a couple airlines you can choose from. If you are not in a rush, you can take the train here as well. It will take you a pretty long time to get here, but the sceneries along the railway is quite amazing. However, the train can only take you to Den Chai in the province of Phrae. After that, you need to take the bus here. The last mean of transportation is a bus. If you are coming from Bangkok, it would take you around 10 to 13 hours to get here. You can also drive here yourself which is much faster than the bus.

 

Things to do in Nan

Like most of the places in other provinces, there are some really famous ones and some that are not that famous. The famous attractions are the places that most tourists go to which means that you should expect a crowd in most if not some of these places.

Wat Phumin

วัดภูมินทร์ (Wat Phumin)
วัดภูมินทร์ (Wat Phumin)

The first place is Wat Phumin and it contains some of the most interesting characteristics that other temples does not have. The unique characteristic of this temple is that it is the first and only tetrahedron temple in Thailand which means that the building also has a Buddha statue with four sides, including four gates to the temple of each direction. While the temple is very beautiful, the wonder is inside of the temple. You will be able to see many artworks and the famous paintings called “Poo Man Ya Man” which tell a story about the love between the husband and wife.

ปู่ม่านย่าม่าน (Poo Man Ya Man)
ปู่ม่านย่าม่าน (Poo Man Ya Man)

These paintings are also being renown as very beautiful paintings and it is also mentioned in the province’s motto.

Doi Samer Dao or Samer Dao Mountain

Next up is Doi Samer Dao or Samer Dao Mountain and it is the most romantic place you can be in the province of Nan.

ดอยเสมอดาว (Doi Samer Dao)
ดอยเสมอดาว (Doi Samer Dao)

It is basically an open space for you to build up a tent for some good atmosphere in the night time. The highlight here are the moon and the stars of the milky way galaxy which we are all in. You can observe the magnificent moon and bright stars across the sky. However, you will only be able to see the stars and the milky way galaxy when there is no moonlight. When you come out of your tent in the morning, you will get to see the sea of mists with refreshing sunrise.

Wat Phra That Khao Noi

Another temple is Wat Phra That Khao Noi which is a very important place for Nan.

วัดพระธาตุเขาน้อย (Wat Phra That Khao Noi)
วัดพระธาตุเขาน้อย (Wat Phra That Khao Noi)

The place consists of a Buddha statue that faces to the east direction and a sightseeing spot for the overview of the city that you can use to take pictures. If you are here early, you might be able to see the mists here as well.

 

‘Local Tells’

The above places are the famous places here in Nan. However, there are more places that are worth mentioning about, but they are not really famous attractions for tourists.

Doi Phu Kha National Park

The first place is Doi Phu Kha National Park which has a rare species of flower named Bretschneidera or Ton Chom Phu Kha in Thai.

อุทยานแห่งชาติดอยภูคา (Doi Phu Kha National Park)
อุทยานแห่งชาติดอยภูคา (Doi Phu Kha National Park)
a rare species of flower named Bretschneidera or Ton Chom Phu Kha in Thai
A rare species of flower named Bretschneidera or Ton Chom Phu Kha in Thai

This is one of the rarest trees in the world and it is almost going to be extinct. The prime time for this tree is in the month of February and you can see more rare species of trees here as well. If you want to see some 360 degrees sceneries, you can go up to the sightseeing spot with the height of 1835 meters. On the way up, you can see beautiful flowers along the path of eight kilometers. You could also do rafting in which the river is separated into three sections that has different levels of difficulties, depending on your skills.

Wat Sri Phan Don

วัดศรีพันตัน (Wat Sri Phan Don)
วัดศรีพันตัน (Wat Sri Phan Don)

Another temple that you should take a visit to once you are here at Nan. The temple is in gold with highly detailed arts on the outside and you can easily see it when the plane is landing if you happen to travel by plane. There are many beautiful statues made out of cement, especially the seven heads serpent which is located in front of the temple. The serpent has a shiny golden color and it looks almost alive. This statue was crafted by a local craftsman. Inside of the temple, you will see drawings telling the story of the Buddha and the history of the province which are beautiful and valuable.

The long tail boat racing competition

ประเพณีแข่งเรือเมืองน่าน (Long Tail Boat)
ประเพณีแข่งเรือเมืองน่าน (Long Tail Boat)

If you are talking about the famous old tradition here at Nan, it would be the long tail boat racing competition. It is an old competition that has been passes down from elder generation to the next and it still keep the same old unique characteristics which are the beauty of the boat and its tail, including the body that is crafted to look like a serpent. There are two types of competition which are the beauty competition of the boat and heart pumping race competition. This competition is in December of every year and you will not be disappointed!

Long Tail Boat (ประเพณีแข่งเรือเมืองน่าน)
Long Tail Boat (ประเพณีแข่งเรือเมืองน่าน)

 

souvenir

If you want to bring back something for a souvenir, I highly recommend silver that is crafted by highly skilled craftsmanship here in Nan. The silver is composed of a high percentage of silver filled with amazing details that you can wear in any era. Also, it is recommended that you buy from Amphur Muang or the city district.

เครื่องเงิน (Silver)
เครื่องเงิน (Silver)

Living in Nan

The motto for Nan is “The Famous Boat Racing, The City of Black Ivory, Paintings at Wat Phumin, The Land of Golden Orange, and The Brilliant Phra That Chae Haeng”. To get around town, you can rent a motorcycle or take a taxi, but be careful not to get ripped off. You can also use the trishaw and trolleybuses to get around the province as well.

For accommodation, there are budget, mid-range, and high-end hotels you can stay. The price is as cheap as 200 baht per night for budget hotels and as high as 6,000 baht for luxury hotels. You could also set up your own tent at some places in the province, but you would have to ask for permission first unless the place has a designated place for the tent. Have a good time!

Contact

Contact our local partner, @ TonyHolidayPage , if you would like to visit Nan

Suggested cities around Nan

Chiang Rai – Thailand’s Destination for Experiences in Culture and Nature
Phrae – A Destination for Unique Cultural Exploration in Thailand
Phayao – Explore the Land of Religion and Nature in Thailand

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