Chiang Mai Heritage Houses
Lanna Ancient House
The Lanna Ancient House dates back to 1867. The house used to belong to Grandmother Moung Kham Suaysuwan, a Burmese logging contractor. This area also was the location of the office of the Forestry Department of Siam. The British and the French consulates were on the same street too. In addition, a foreign court was located nearby Nawarat Bridge, close to the present-day Chiang Mai Governor’s Mansion. The house underwent renovations in 1997, in 2007 and 2017. The company that brews Chang Beer is the owner of the house.
The last renovation of the house was a major one. They constructed shops in similar style on both sides of the house. Elephant Parade and other companies occupied these shops. A restaurant called The Chocolate Factory occupied the house which was really beautifully renovated. The Chocolate Factory and the shops failed to attract a lot of people. In 2019 the restaurant closed and Elephant Parade closed its shop. Some of the other shops are still there but the project to bring this place to life again has failed. The Lanna Ancient House is still there and might well be the one oldest of the Chiang Mai Heritage Houses.
Yong Chang House
The Yong Chiang house is at the Upakut intersection, named after the Wat Upakut. It is on the corner of Thapae and Wichayanon roads, address 2-4 Wichayanon road. A Chinese merchant built it in 1903. It appears on many pictures. This building is also known as the Sri Prasert building. The Sri Prasert shop sold bicycles and radios. In 2014 this house was the Long Chang Boutique Hotel for a short time. Currently, it houses a branch office of the UOB Bank.
The Yong Chang House appears on many old pictures of Chiang Mai. It really is a unique, iconic building.
Leow Yong Nguan House
The Leow Yong Nguan House is on Tha Phae Road in Chiang Mai. This house belongs to the Saeleow Family. It dated back to 1915. A man called Uy Saeleow built the house. He was an immigrant from China who was involved in trading on the Ping River, based in the Wat Ket area. He operated boats that carried cargo to Bangkok back and forth. Local people called him “old turtle Uy”. His first residence was the house that now is the Gallery Restaurant on Charoenrat Road. The Wat Ket area was the commercial centre until the opening of the Bangkok-Chiang Mai railroad in 1922.
The commercial centre then moved to the Sanpakoy area and Thapae Road. I would date the year of construction of the house on Tha Phae Road actually after that, looking at the style of building and the materials used. Uy gave this house the same name: Leow Yong Nguan House. In the beginning, the store sold agricultural products and textiles. Later on, it sold electronics, bicycles and motorbikes amongst others. Uy Saeleow passed away in 1932. The house is currently in use as a pizzeria on the first floor. There are several souvenir shops on the ground floor.
Luang Yo House
This beautiful two-storey half-wooden, half-concrete house is hidden behind the front building of the Diamond Hotel on Charoenprathet Road. It is one of our favourite Chiang Mai Heritage Houses.
The house belonged to a Mon-Burmese merchant and nobleman who came from Moulmein. His name was Mong Pan Yo (1845-1927). He settled down in the Kingdom of Chiang Mai, where he was employed in the King’s palace. Mong Pan Yo was devoted to his adopted home by building Buddhist temples, renovating pagodas, constructing bridges, roads and canals. He became well known and respected among local Thais and British ex-pats. After Siam annexed Chiang Mai, King Rama V elevated Mong Pan Yo’s status to nobility, gave him the Luang Yonakarn Phichit and awarded him forestry concessions. His company owned 300 elephants. King Rama VI gave him a hereditary surname Upayokin (sometimes spelt Upayogin).
Luang Yonakarn Phichit financed the renovation of the Wat Chedi Liam in Wiang Kum Kam in 1908. He also allegedly supported the Burmese Wat Upakut which was located on the corner of Charoenprathet and Thapae roads. The Burmese Wat Upakut was next to the Siamese Wat Upakut which is still there. In 1957 the Burmese Wat Upakut had to make way for the Buddha Sathan building, allegedly because no one was taking care of it anymore.
Unfortunately, Baan Luang Yo has been neglected somewhat. I remember there was once a Kantoke dinner restaurant, then the Fwandee Latex store and most recently it has been up for rent. This is very unfortunate. We really hope this house will be preserved.
Mosway Teak Manor
This 130-year old golden teakwood house is of mixed European-Lanna architecture that belongs to the Upayokin family. The name of the house is the Mosway Teak Manor. It is also on Charoenprathat Road, very close to the Luang Yo House. Mosway Upayokin was the oldest son of Luang Yonakarn Pichit. He took over his father’s forestry business. He built his very own big teak manor near the Luang Yo House, the house of his father. He managed the business very well and became a well respected member of Chiang Mai society, just like his father. Mosway had a son named Sumin Upayokin, who took over the family’s timber business after finishing a bachelor degree at Thammasat University.
For many years the Mosway Manor housed a popular restaurant under the name Antique House. There were tables and seating in the garden. I celebrated my bachelor party in the garden of Antique House in November 2005. The restaurant closed in 2011 and moved to a location on the Chiang Mai-Lamphun road, along the Ping River. A restaurant reopened in 2012 (?) under the name Baan Jangrapor. This restaurant closed in 2016. Since then the house has been empty. We passed it many times. There is no one living there but the house still looks in quite good condition. It is one of the beautiful Chiang Mai Heritage House. We hope it will be preserved.
Khun Chowng-Liang Lue-Kiat House
This teak wooden mansion is more than 100 years old was once the house of Khun Chowng-Liang Lue-Kiat. It is another of the forgotten Chiang Mai Heritage Houses. It is located in Charoenprathat Road, Soi 1, opposite the Ban Ho Mosque. The house has been empty for a long time. It is often obscured by parked cars. I have been inside only once, quite a few years ago.
Ch’un Chowng-LIn, a Muslim merchant from Yunnan, was a descendant of Chinese explorer Zheng He. He was a trader and married a Thai women from Tak. He and his wife settled in Chiang Mai in 1915 on a piece of land granted by King Rama VI through the ruling Prince of Chiang Mai, Kaew Nawarat. The Siamese government gave Ch’un Chowng-Lin a contract to deliver mail to the more remote areas by his pack horses. Later on, the Siamese government also contracted him to deliver construction materials to the construction site of the Khuntan railway tunnel. Ch’un Chowng-Lin donated about 40 acres of his private land to the construction of the railway to Chiang Mai. The King reward Ch’un Chowng-Lin with the title “Khun” and the family name Wong Luekiat. From then on people called him Khun Chowng-Liang Lue-Kiat.
The Chinese Muslim community in Chiang Mai was set up around 80 years ago. Descendants of Ch’un Chowng-Lin are now known by the Thai name of the Wong Luekiat family.