Jan 30, 2013

Your Guide to Chiang Mai

You discover Chiang Mai through the eyes of people, who have been there. This blog collects their voices from blogs and travel-related forums like tripadvisor.com or travelfish.org and their pictures from flickr.com and other sources. Google Maps help you to create your own tour. Links give you background. Welcome to Chiang Mai!


Guesthouses: Cheap or not too expensive beds, some very charming locations like Pak Chiang Mai. Click



Boutique Hotels: Small hotels with traditional architecture like Bury Gallery House. Click.




Hotels: Big and splendid ones like Rachamankha. Click.




Restaurants: Where food is created with love and where vegetarians get mouthwatering stuff. Click.



Temples: Chiang Mai's Old Town counts more than twenty temples with spledid architecture. And Doi Suthep on a nearby mountain is famous. Click.



Markets and Walking Streets: Shop and eat with the locals and don't miss Wualai Walking Street or Ratchadamnoen Walking Street. Click.




Massage: Enjoy a massage by well trained people - for exampla at a shop with connections to the female prison. Click.



Nightlife: Pop, rock and jazz in music clubs, for example at the riverside. Click.



Loy Kratong: Enjoy the full moon festival in Chiang Mai or Mae Jo. Click.




Doi Inthanon: Take a day-tour to the highest mountain in Thailand and discover rainforest and birds. Click.




Institute for elephants: Take a day tour to the National Elephant Institute near Lampang, where some elephants even know how to play music in an orchestra. Click.


The Mae Hong Son Loop: From Chiang Mai through the rainforest and the mountains to Pai and Mae Hong Son Click




The Footprints of four Buddhas: A sanctuary in the mountains near Chiang Mai with four footprints on one stone. Click






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Nan น่าน - beautiful nature and wonderful temples

See the locations on Nan Google Map
See the Thai Meteorological Weather forecast for Nan
See Your guide to Nan น่าน


Picture mauve55

Picture Adrian Whelan
The hills of Nan

Picture fredalix - อาลิกส์


Did you ever hear about Nan? No? You are among many tourists, who believe they know Thailand well - and have no idea of this provincial capital with around 25000 inhabitants in a quite secluded valley in Thailands remote north, flanked by mountains, near the Lao border. So you cannot imagine the treasures you will discover here. Who visits Nan is rewarded: by a spledid nature, formed by rivers and evergreen mountains, and by cultural riches as superbly-crafted Buddha images, vibrant murals and elegant temple architecture. Nan has long been a crossroad of cultures, with people from nearby lands — modern-day Laos, Myanmar and China — arriving here to trade their goods for the local salt, which is still mined near the headwaters of the Nan River to the east of town. A local historian dated the founding of the town to the mid-14th century. Nan has been strongly influenced and sometimes controlled by the nearby kingdoms of Sukhothai, Lan Na, Lan Xang (Laos) and Burma - and by the ethnic group Tai Lue: people, who immigrated from southern Yunnan in China, somtimes forced, sometimes voluntarily. This immigration continued until the 1950s. Read more about the ethnic groups in the province of Nan on nantouring.com. See also the video Unseen in Nan แอ่วน่าน


Does all this sound promising to you? Then follow my litte guide to the treaures of Nan.


The National Museum

You start by looking at the beautifully restored colonial building in the centre of Nan, erected in 1903 by Phra Chao Suriyaphong Pharitdej (Nan’s then independent ruler). Inside you find textiles and household implements of local ethnic groups like the Tai Lu, Htin and Khamu as well as a variety of Buddha images. And a black elephant tusk is thought to be over three centuries old; it is held aloft by a garuda and has become Nan’s principal icon.



Temples in Nan

Wat Chang Kham วัดช้างค้ำวรวิหาร: Built from 1406 onward. The "Monastery of the the Relic Supported by Elephants" stands near the National Museum. The first building was the chedi (behind the viharn). Below a guilded upper part you discover a square base with six elephants on each side. "In Buddhist cosmology this represents a the structure of Mount Meru, the central world-mountain whose base is supported by elephants", explains orientalarchitecture.com. Inside the viharn you find a massive gilt Buddha showing influences from Chiang Saen, Sukhothai and China on a platform between richly-decorated pillars. He is flanked two bronze Buddha images from 1426-1427 (Sukhothai period). To the east of the viharn stands Thailand's largest ho trai (library) with two garudas on the front facade.


Picture mauve55
View from the ground of the National Museum

Picture marhas

Picture marhas

Picture marhas





Wat Hua Khuang วัดหัวข่วง : Across from the museum. This name means "The Monastery North of the Plaza". The main buildung functions as viharn and ubosot. "Its most attractive feature is the front gable with a richly carved eyebrow-shaped pelmet that hangs in front of the portico", notes orientalarchiceture.com. There is a small chedi and a wooden ho trai (library), serving as monks quarter today.

Picture marhas
See also picture by D33montri.ka


Wat Phumin วัดภูมินทร์: Opposite Wat Chang Kham, Nans most famous temple. The monastery was foundexd in 1596. But its present dates from 1867-75, when it was renovated during the reign of Chao Anantaworaritthidej (more about the history on orientalarchitecture.com).Viharn and ubosot are in one building. Very special is the cruciform shape of the wat. Inside you discover four buddhas sitting back to back and famous mural paintings, covering the interior walls, depicting not only scenes from Buddha’s life, but also battle scenes, festival celebrations, the arrival of foreigners in town and locals flirting. Several sections of the murals, which were painted in the late 19th century, have faded, but what remains "shows a high degree of artistry", notes E-Magazine. Read also article on cnngo.com

Picture marhas


Picture Justin Gaurav Murgai
Wat Phumin Wihan

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Picture Nicolai Bangsgaard
Murals at Wat Phumin.

Picture jobjob

Picture jobjob

See also picture by D33montri.ka


Wat Ming Muang วัดมิ่งเมือง: Just 100 metres west of Wat Phumin, in the heart of the city, with Lak Muang City Pillar, read more on orientalarchitecture.com. Wat Ming Muang is a modern temple with freshly painted murals. The City Pillar has faces carved on it, and is known as Mukhalinga.



Picture mauve55


Wat Phra That Chae Haeng วัดพระธาตุแช่แห้ง : Now you cross to the east of Nam River to get deep into history. Wat Phra That Chae Haeng was built from 1354 onward on another location and then moved two times to the present location (read more on orientalarchitecture.com). On a hill beyond Nan River southeast of Nan. A broad stairway is guarded by two huge nagas. Then you cannot overview the slender, 55-metre gilt stupa, built in the Haripunchai style. Have also a look at the mondop and its roof in rustic style. See pictures on baekpae.blogspot.com

Picture fredalix - อาลิกส์

Picture fredalix - อาลิกส์

Picture Pruet


Wat Phra That Khao Noi วัดพระธาตุเขาน้อย : From here, a couple of kilometres southwest of the town, you have the most stunning panoramic view of Nan - and you share it with a huge image of a walking Buddha, who seems to guard the valley. And sunset can be overwhelming here!

Picture by Adrian Whelan
Standing Buddha


Wat Phayawat วัดพญาวัด): Here you find a chedi in Mon style, but constructed after the occupation by the Mon, during the 17th or 18th century. "It is nearly identical in appearance to the Chedi Mahapol at Wat Ku Kut in Lamphun", knows orientalarchitecture.com. See picture by Pisanu


Wat Suan Tan วัดสวนตาล: "The Monastery of the Sugar Palm Grove". Behind the not so old viharn you find a Sukhothai-style chedi from the 14th century. More pictures on orientalarchitecture.com. See picture by martinsilverston

Picture sluj78


Wat Hua Wiang Tai วัดหัวเวียงใต้:

Picture Adrian Whelan



The King of Nan's Teak House

Picture marhas

The Teak House of Nan’s King (Mahaprom road, opposite the rear entrance of Wat Phra That Chang Kham) was built in 1866 with pure golden teak. It has been renovated in 1941.Today it is the home of Chao Sompradhana Na Nan, a woman and her husband. Inside you find various antiques, ancient weapons and original photographs of King Rama V. For visiting contact the owner (Tel. 054 710 605). Read about the history of the kingdom of Nan.

Picture marhas


The House of Chao Fongkham โฮงเจ้าฟองคำ

8 Soi 2 Ban Phra Kerd, Sumon Devaraj road. Museum open daily from 10am to 5pm. A large teak house in classic Northern Thai style set in a beautiful garden, built about 150 years ago. Chao Fongkham was a descendant of Chao Anantaworarithidej, the 62nd Lord of Nan and the father of the last two Lords. In the oldest parts of the house you see planks formed by axe and knife. It is probably the best preserved such noble house in the province of Nan. Read more and see pictures on The Noble House โฮงเจ้าฟองคำ on Facebook. See the gallery by visanu_euarchukiati



More temples in Nan Province

In Tha Wang Pha:

Wat Nong Bua วัดหนองบัว): The "Lotus Pond Monastery", built by the Tai Lue people from 1862 onward, around 40 km north of Nan. Wat Nong Bua is well known for its mural paintings. The Tai Lue people emigrated from southern Yunnan in China, read about the history on orientalarchitecture.com. In the village around the wat you find Tai Lue textiles, which are produced at a cooperative.

Picture sluj78

Picture sluj78


In Pua ปัว:

Wat Ton Laeng วัดต้นแหลง:

Picture Bleumontagne

Picture Bleumontagne

Picture Bleuemontagne

Picture Bleuemontagne


Wat Prang วัดปราง : Here you find Ton Dik Diem (also called Di Diam, Dip Diam or Dik Doi). If you touch this tree, its leaves will shake. See also this video on youtube.com
See more pictures by sunshinethailand

Picture marhas



Wat Phrathat Beng Sakat วัดพระธาตุเบ็งสกัด: The main Buddha image in the local style resides on the so-called Chukkachi base. The back of the Buddha image is decorated with a mirror. That comes from the belief of the Thai Lue people. The Phrathat and the Viharn were completed in 1283, but the current Viharn is not that old. It is located on a hill. The arch on the main doorway shows an image of the god rahu, holding the sun in his hands. See picture by encyclopediathai.org

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Rafting on Nam Wa ล่องแก่งน้ำว้า

You can go for white-water rafting on Nam Wa River from September to February, but be aware, that this can be difficult and dangerous. There is even a Nam Wa Rafting Club. Read more on nantouring.com, siamrivers.com and thailandtraveltours.com. See galleries by Jiffy Gnosty and nantrip.com

See videos by mrkatchai, somchai153 and moohinvideo

Picture pleroma
Nam Wa River



Other attractions in Nan Province

Phu Fa Palace พระตำหนักภูฟ้า: Residencve of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.


Silaphet Waterfall น้ำตกศิลาเพชร: You find it southeast of Pua, just off the road between Pua and Ban Nam Yao.

Picture นักล่าน้ำตก
More pictures: See Pong's Site


Doi Phu Kha ดอยภูคา National Park:
Khun Nan National Park ที่ทำการอุทยานแห่งชาติขุนน่าน: Forest on limestone mountains, the source of several streams which flow into Nan River, highest elevation around 1,900 metres above sea level. Doi Phu Kha is one of the tallest mountains in Thailand. Its height allows a wide range of forest types to exist

At the shrine of Chao Lung Phu Kha you find a very rare tree, threatened from extinctiont: Chomphoo Phu Kha (Bretschneidera sinensis), whose pink and white flowers bloom in February and March. (See the flowers on tatnews.org and on youtube) Once this tree was found in Southern China and the northern part of Vietnam. Then it was disappeared, until the Thai botanist Tawatchai Santisuk discsovered one of these treets on Doi Phu Kha. Studies show that this tree can prosper in hilly evergreen forest at heights above 1200 metres, it needs high humidity and low temperature throughout the year. Read more on dnp.go.th

There are also several scenic waterfalls.
Read about Ban Mani Phruek Security Development Projekt.

In Bo Kluea บ่อเกลือ you can observe tha traditional salt gaining process. According to a legend a hunter obeserved wild animals drinkinh from the stream. He tasted the water himself and learned, that it was salty. Chao Luang Phu Kha and Chao Bo Luang heart about this discovery and founded a community here. Today an annual ceremony is held to remember the two founders. Today the salt production is still done in the traditional way: It starts with an offering ritual, when saline water is drawned from the pit. Then the water is boiled in woks during four hours. The gained salt is put into baskets to dry. After boiling the woks are immersed in the river for three weeks. The lime stone is now scraped off.

Mae Charim National Park:


Nunthaburi National Park:


Si Nan National Park: A good place to see the mountain mists is Doi Pha Chu Viewpoint, where you get a cliff-top view and see the Nan River winding its way in the valley below.


Tham Sa Kern National Park:


Map of the Northern National Parks here


Ban Pak Nai: A fishing village on the bank of the fresh-water lake above the Sirikit Dam. There are restaurants and accommodations on Rafts.



Travel Agents in Nan:
Lanna Touring
Nan Amazing Tour
Nantouring.com


Read more about Nan:
nanvisit.com: Guide for Nan in Thai
The Treasures of Nan
Markets in Nan
Bo Kluae salt
Pua and around
Backpacker's Secret Guide: Nan
Nan's Cultural Riches
Tourism acitivities in Nan
Festivals in Nan
A trip from Lampang to Nan

Travel Agents in Nan
nan-travel.com
GT Riders Touring Guide to Nan
Map of Nan Province
Nan Thailand Map
Map of Caves in Nan
Nan HoboMap


How to get to Nan

Three airlines are flying to Nan: Nok Air Mini from Chiang Mai (daily), Happy Air from Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) on Fridays and Sundays and Solar Air from Bangkok Don Mueang on Fridays and Sundays from 3. December 2010.


Border crossing from Nan to Laos

Possible between Ban Huay Kon (Thailand) and Muang Ngoen. Visa on arrival for Laos seem to be available. Read more on travelfish.org. And annainasia.com describes, how she got visa at the boarder, wanderingstraycat has informations about the transports to the boarder and into Laos on lonelyplanet.cpm/thorntree.


Discover more:
Your guide to Nan น่าน



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