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A quiet and tranquil province, Nan nestles in a verdant valley in northern Thailand. About 668 kilometres from Bangkok, it covers an area of 11,472 square kilometres and is made up of the folloning districts: Mueang, Wiang Sa, Na Noi, Pua, Chiang Klang, Tha Wang Pha, Thung Chang, Mae Charim, Ban Luang, Na Mun, Santi Suk, Bo Kluea, Chaloem Phra Kiat, Song Khwae, and Phu Phiang.

The people of Nan descend from the Lan Changs (Laotians). Their forebears moved to settle around present-day Pua district which is rich in rock salt deposits, about 700 years ago at the time when Sukhothai was becoming the kingdom of the Thais. They subsequently moved south to the fertile Nan River basin which is much more extensive.

Nan’s history is deeply involved with its neighbours, in particular Sukhothai which played an important role in both political and religious terms before Nan became a part of Lanna, Burma and Thailand in that order. Today Nan is still the home of numerous Thai Lue and other hilltribes who retain highly interesting customs and traditions.



Nan Thailand

Nan Attractions

Nan Art, Culture & Heritage


Thung Chang Sacrificial Monument and Thung Chang Military Mu : hung Chang Sacrificial Monument and Thung Chang Military Museum were constructed to commemorate the heroes who sacrificed their life for the country. Their Majesties the King and the Queen attended and conducted the opening ceremony, as well as, placed the wreaths at the monument on 10 February, 1976. Therefore, this date of every year is considered the memorial day when wreaths have been presented and a merit making ceremony has been organised for the heroes up until at present. The monument is located on Highway 1080, Nan Thung Chang Route, at Km. 84. Moreover, the Thung Chang Military Museum displays military weapons for further knowledge and study.
Nan National Museum : The building of the Nan National Museum was actually constructed in 1903 and once the residence of a ruler of Nan. It displays exhibitions concerning the town’s history and major structures, evolution of arts in different ages, and numerous ancient objects, the most eminent of which is the Black Ivory. It also provides anthropological information on the northern indigenous people including the several minorities residing in Nan. The museum is open Wednesday-Sunday from nine in the morning until four o’clock in the afternoon.
Sin Thao or Rock Salt Pits : It is hard to believe that an area on the mountain summit reaching up to the cloud in Bo Kluea district has been an important salt production venue from ancient times. Nan has been a large exporting source of rock salt in the north. Salt was a product exchanging with other things that the community could not produce by themselves. The exchange was conducted with the caravan of the Haw People from Yunnan, Guangxi and other provinces in China by taking the route from Xishuangbanna, Shan State to Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Nan, Mueang Sa (Wiang Sa District nowadays) and Phrae, as well as, the Thai Khoen sellers from Keng Tung and the Thai Lue cow traders from Tha Wang Pha district. In the past, rulers in the Northern administrative circle got a part from the salt levy apart from other fees and fines. Phraya Tilokkarat of Chiang Mai also led the troops to invade Nan with an aim to possess the salt pits which were a significant military factor during that time.There are 2 important salt production venues in Nan. The first one is in the Wa River watershed area, consisting of 2 large pits, while the second one is at the Nan River watershed area, where there are 5 large pits and many tiny ones. At present, the locals still boil the salt by using the traditional method. Saline water will be brought from the pits and pass along the bamboo sticks to the storage ponds. Then, it will be boiled in large woks until the water evaporates, leaving only the dry salt. The salt will be put into bags and sold in front of the houses. Salt of Nan does not contain iodine like that from the sea. Therefore, iodine has to be added before offering to consumers.The Rock Salt Pits are 80 kilometres from Mueang Nan. Apart from agriculture and farming, people of Bo Kluea district also produce salt. The source of the rock salt is on the mountain. (The salt pits are usually closed during Buddhist Lent due to the rainy season.)


Nan Places of Worship


Wat Chang Kham : Opposite the Nan National Museum is Wat Chang Kham. Its main features are the sculpted upper halves of elephants adorning around the Chedi, a Sukhothai influence. Here have been found stones with ancient Thai scripts relating the alliance between the kings of Nan and Sukhothai when Nan was still and independent state. An ancient golden Buddha is enshrined in the Vihan.
Wat Ming Mueang : Wat Ming Mueang is on Suriyaphong Road. It was constructed in 1857. Its distinguishing point is the stucco reliefs on the outer wall of the ubosot, presenting the skill of the Chiang Saen craftsmen. The patterns are very exquisite. Within the ubosot are mural paintings depicting the lifestyles of the Nan people by present-day local craftsmen. Moreover, within the compound of the temple stands the city pillar in a cruciform-plan pavilion at its front. The city pillar is 3 metres high. Its base is decorated with engraved and gilded wooden design. The top of the pillar was engraved into 4 faces of the Brahma God, representing Phrom Wihan (Brahmavihara) 4 the four sublime states of mind; namely, Metta – kindness, Karuna – compassion, Mudita sympathy, and Upekkha – equanimity.
Wat Phaya Wat :
This temple is located just before reaching the town on Highway No. 101. An ancient religious site, it has rectangular Chedi bases on which Buddha states are placed around the Chedi structure. Combined artistic influences of Lanna, Lan Chang and native Nan can be detected.
Wat Phra That Chae Haeng : Wat Phrathat Chae Haeng is a sacred place of worship, situated on a mound on the eastern side of the Nan River, at the former centre of the Nan town after moving from Pua town. Wat Phra Borommathat Chae Haeng was constructed during the rule of Chao Phraya Kanmueang (the Feudal Lord of Nan during 1326 1359) as an enshrining venue of 7 Buddha relics, silver and golden votive tablets presented by King Maha Thammaracha Lithai on the occasion that Chao Phraya Kanmueang assisted in the construction of Wat Luang Aphai (Wat Pa Mamuang in Sukhothai Province at present) in 1354.It features a chedi in a bell shape. The pattern of Phrathat Chae Haeng is assumed to have been influenced by the chedi of Phrathat Hariphunchai. It is plated with Thong Changko or Thong Dok Buap a combination of brass and copper. The staircase up to the Phrathat is in a Naga shape, while the gable above the entrance gate to the wihan is the stucco relief depicting intertwined Nagas, the unique characteristic of Nan fine art.Phra Borommathat Chae Haeng represents the Year of the Rabbit. Lanna people believe that travelling to pay respect to the Phrathat of their Year of Birth or Chu That would reap them great results. Tourists can visit the temple everyday from 6.00 a.m. 6.00 p.m.To get there: Wat Phrathat Chae Haeng is located in Muang Tuet sub-district, King Amphoe Phu Phiang. From the centre of Mueang district, cross the Nan River Bridge and go along the Nan Mae Charim route or on Highway No. 1168 for 3 kilometres. Contact the temple at Tel. 0 5475 1846.
Wat Phrathat Chang Kham Worawihan : Wat Phrathat Chang Kham Worawihan is on Suriyaphong Road, opposite the Nan Municipality Office. It was previously called Wat Luang or Wat Luang Klang Wiang, constructed during the reign of Chaopu Khaeng in 1406. It is a royal temple within the compound of Nan town for the ruler to conduct Buddhist ceremonies and the Oath of Allegiance Ceremony in accordance with the 74th stone inscription which was discovered within the temple. The inscription mentioned that Phaya Phonlathep Ruechai, a Nan ruler renovated the main wihan in 1548.The architectural characteristics of the temple reflect the influence of the Sukhothai arts such as the chedi in the Lankan style (a bell shape) whose base is surrounded by sculptures of the front half of elephants made of bricks and cement. Five elephant sculptures are on each side and 1 at every corner. It looks as though they use their back to support or Kham the chedi, similar to the characteristic at Wat Chang Lom in Sukhothai province. Within the wihan, Phra Phuttha Nanthaburi Si Sakkayamuni is enshrined. It is a bronze Buddha image, with 65% pure gold, in the posture of forgiveness with a height of 145 centimetres. It is aged around the 14th century or during the late Sukhothai Period. The main Buddha image is very beautiful and large. It was made of lime, representing the Chiang Saen style of art and the skills of Nan craftsmanship.
Wat Phrathat Khao Noi : Wat Phrathat Khao Noi is situated at Tambon Chai Sathan. The Buddha relic is enshrined in the chedi on the summit of Khao Noi on the western side of Nan town on a similar route as Wat Phaya Wat at Km. 2. It was constructed during the reign of Chaopu Khaeng in 1487. The Phrathat is a chedi made of bricks and cement reflecting a combination of Burmese and Lanna arts. It contains Buddha hair and was under major renovation during the reign of Phrachao Suriyaphong Pharitdet during 1906 – 1911 by Burmese craftsmen. The wihan was constructed during this similar period as well. From Wat Phrathat Khao Noi, the surrounding scenery of Nan can be seen. At present, at the viewpoint spot is Phra Phuttha Maha Udom Mongkhon Nanthaburi Si Nan, a 9-metre Buddha image in the giving blessing posture on a lotus base. The head finial of the image was made of gold with a total weight of 27 Baht. It was cast on the auspicious occasion of His Majesty the King 6th Cycle Birthday Anniversary on 5 December, 1999.
Wat Phumin : A uniquely designed and the most interesting temple in Nan is Wat Phumin, which has a 4-portico, single building housing both the Ubosot and Vihan. Four Buddha statues with their backs against one another are installed in the main hall facing the four directions. The doors are delicately carved in splendid designs by Lanna craftsmen.Wat Phumin underwent a major restoration in 1867 since it was built some 27 years ago. It is believed that the wall murals were commissioned during this time. The wall paintings, in Thai Lu style are considered highly valuable and depict legends concerning the Lord Buddha as well as local legends and the local way of life, which include native attires, weaving and commerce with foreign countries.
Wat Suan Tan : Wat Suan Tan, built in 1230, features an old, beautifully-shaped Chedi and houses a huge bronze Buddha statue, Phra Chao Thong Thip cast by a king of Chiang Mai in 1450.
Wat Nong Daeng : Wat Nong Daeng in Puea sub-district was constructed in 1787 by the Thai Lue and Thai Phuan people. The main Buddha image was cast by Khruba Sitthikan. The first renovation of the assembly hall was done in 1949 and again later in 1995. It was completed in 1996. Within the compound of the temple is a large shady terrace. The Chofa gable finial decoration of a Buddhist temple roof is engraved into the sculpture of Nok Hatsadiling (Hastilinga) a mythical bird in the literature whose tip of the beak is an elephant trunk. The Thai Lue people believe that it is a high-ranked animal from heaven. At the same time, the eaves boards are embellished with wooden fretwork, the unique ones of the Thai Lue people. The Buddha image is enshrined on the Chukkachi base a masonry base of intertwined Nagas, called Naga Throne. It has been believed that the Naga is a symbol of gracefulness, goodness, and a protector of Buddhism. Wat Nong Daeng was granted the Award of Outstanding Performance in the category of Cultural Attraction in Northern Thailand in the 5th Thailand Tourism Awards 2004.To get there: From Mueang Nan district, take Highway 1080 to Chiang Klang District Office. Pass the District Office for 2 kilometres to the Ratchada Intersection. When seeing the Ban Ratchada Police Booth, turn left for 1 kilometre.
Wat Phrathat Beng Sakat : Highway 1256 until reaching the entrance opposite Woranakhon School. Enter the entrance for 200 metres and turn left for another 200 metres. It is situated at Ban Kaem, Mu 5, Woranakhon sub-district. Its location is assumed to have been an area where Phraya Phukha had the ancient Pua town or Woranakhon town constructed to be governed by Chao Khunfong, his adopted son. At present, it is the Pua District Office. The word Beng Sakat means a miracle at a soil pit. When putting a wooden stick into the pit, the stick will be torn into pieces as though something bites it off. Moreover, a light appeared from the pit during the celebration.The Phrathat and Wihan – assembly hall – were completed in 1283. Inside the chedi is enshrined the Lord Buddha relics which is considered as the centre of faith of the community. This Phrathat also represents the architecture of the Nan craftsmen. It is located on a high rise where a village below can be seen. Its surroundings is a grove, while its back side is a mountain. Therefore, the location influences the uniqueness and grandeur of the temple. During the rainy season, visitors will be able to see the green rice fields at the villages below.The architectural characteristic of the assembly hall is its roof which is very sloping and low, presenting the Thai Lue local style of art or called Tia Chae shape. The hall is covered with 2 tiers of 2 series of shingle roof, made of golden teakwood, a local Thai Lue style of architectural art. The entrance gate represents the Lan Chang art style. Its renovation was conducted during the rule of Phraya Anantayot. Moreover, the Phra Kaeo image, whose hair was in gold, was enshrined in the Phrathat. The main Buddha image is in the local art style, on a masonry base known as Chukkachi base. Mirrors are attached at the back of the image according to the Thai Lue belief, while the engraved wooden doors are the local Nan art style.
Wat Nong Bua : Wat Nong Bua in Nong Bua village of Tha Wang Pha district was built by Thai Lue craftsmen who had early migrated from southern China. Apart from the Vihan which is adorned with elaborate carvings, there are also wall murals painted by Thai Lue artists some one hundred years ago. Their artistic value and degree of perfection equal those at Wat Phumin
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