Nan Province is a remote place bordering Laos. Placed perfectly for anyone who want to take a stop-over before crossing to neighbouring country. Beautiful landscape with rice paddies and fruit forest. But still offer authentic Buddhist temples and riverside bars for you to relax and just hangout.
Dominated by eastern Lanna influences, Nan has a number of distinctive features when compared to the better-known Chiang Mai. With very few visitors in the past and away from routes to other destinations, Nan’s art has remained almost perfectly intact and barely unchanged since ancient times.
Previously shunned by most travelers for its remote location, featureless downtown and tranquil ambience, Nan has now emerged as a not-to-be missed destination, where many travelers, especially young urbanites, make their way to experience the slow pace of life, rich culture and history, and serene natural beauty. It’s the ideal place to take a breather from the break-neck pace of modern city life.
The city’s art legacy is prominently represented in exquisite mural paintings housed in Wat Phumin, largely depicting tales of the Lord Buddha in his past lives and the daily life of the Nan people. However, the most notable mural is perhaps grandpa Man – grandma Man’s whisper of love, portraying a playful and flirtatious old man whispering to an old woman with affectedly inviting gestures. The painting is enduringly romantic and has always left a lasting impression on most people that have seen it.
Wat Phumin itself is an example of the Thai Lue style of architecture, with a unique cruciform Buddhist chapel, which makes the temple look like it is situated on the back of two Nagas. Other not-to-miss temples include Wat Phratthat Chae Haeng, the province’s most sacred place of worship, boasting a 55.5-meter-Lanna-style gilded chedi and a stucco relief depicting intertwined Nagas on the gable above the entrance gate to the Buddhist chapel. The temple displays many of the unique characteristics of Nan’s fine style of art.
Aside from exquisite traditional art, travelers can explore contemporary art at the Nan Riverside Art Gallery (+66 5479 8046). This large private gallery covering an area of 13 rai showcases paintings, sculptures and mixed media by both famous and lesser known local artists, including the works of Winai Prabripoo, a well-known Thai artist and native of Nan who founded the gallery.
The cultural diversity of Nan can be experienced at Pua, a charming district with its patchwork scenery of golden rice fields, legendary Nan textiles produced using candles to paint patterns, silverware meticulously crafted by Yao hill-tribe people and Thai Lue architecture at the ancient Thai Lanna temple of Wat Ton Laeng.
Nan is also well-known for its natural beauty with seven national parks to be explored. Doi Samer Dao (+66 5473 1714) in the area of Si Nan National Park is one of the most popular places in the province for camping, where visitors can gaze up at the glittering stars of the night sky and wake up to witness a sea of mist in the morning. Doi Phu Kha National Park is the only place in Thailand to see the endangered Chomphu Phu Kha, whose pink flowers come into full bloom once a year during February. Those with a passion for adventure will be challenged by the 19.2-km rafting route along the Nam Wa River, which passes through three national parks – Doi Phu Kha Khun Nan and Mae Charim.
Other interesting attractions include Wat Phrathat Chang Kham Worawihan, Nan National Museum, Nan Noble House and Sin Thao or the Rock Salt Pits.
In most villages of Amphoe Wiang Sa, visitors will discover weaving centres, where the famous Pha Lai Nam Lai hand woven fabric is produced. Reflecting local artistic and creative skills inspired by the Nan River, Lai Nam Lai means ‘flowing water’ as its patterns resemble the currents of the river. Other distinctive designs of Nan province’s Pha Sin or tube skirt include Pha Sin Man, Pha Sin Pong, Pha Sin Kham Kheop, and Pha Sin Chiang Saen. These affordable and easy-care fabrics are ideal for making both men’s and women’s garments.
Nok Air (www.nokair.com) offers three daily flights from Don Muang Airport to Nan. You can also travel from Chiang Mai to Nan by Kan Air (www.kanairlines.com). There is no train service directly to Nan. The more convenient option is taking a bus, which leaves from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Chatuchak or Mo Chit 2) everyday (www.transport.co.th).
For more information, contact the TAT Phrae office on +66 5452 1118-9, +66 5452 1127