Day 1: Chiang Mai – Lampang – Phrae
Lampang, the horse cart city
Your guide and driver will meet you at your hotel in Chiang Mai at 0800 for your “Lampang, Phrae and Nan: Past and Present” tour. Drive to Lampang, also nicknamed the “horse cart city.” The horse cart has become the symbol of Lampang. Of course, we will take a ride by horse cart this morning. We will cross the Wang River via the iconic Rachadaphisek Bridge to the forestry neighborhood. There are still many wooden houses here. We will stop at the quaint horse cart service center before we continue to the Louis House. This iconic house was the office of the Louis T. Leonowens Company before WW2. Lampang was a significant center of teak logging before World War Two. The Louis T.Leonowens company was one of the logging firms. The house is under renovation.
Ban Sao Nak, the “house of many pillars.”
The last stop of the horse cart ride will be Ban Sao Nak; a teak wooden house turned into a museum. Next, we will visit the Kad Kong Ta area, where there are several heritage houses of interest, amongst others the iconic Moung Ngwe Zin House, Baan Kanchanawong, and Baan Chantarawiroj. Lunch at the Riverside Restaurant. After lunch, we will drive to Phrae, which will take about 1,5 hours. Along the way, we will stop at Wat Phrathat Suthon Mongkon Khiri. The first thing you will notice about this temple is the enormous reclining Buddha, one of the largest in Thailand.
Overnight will be at the Huan Na Na Resort.
Day 2: Phrae
Vongburi House and Khum Chao Luang
After breakfast, visit Wat Chom Sawan, one of our favorites. A migrant Tai Yai, or Shan, teak workers constructed this attractive temple in the early 20th century. People regard Wat Chom Sawan as one of the best examples of its kind remaining in Thailand. After this, we will visit the Vongburi House Museum and the Khum Chao Luang, another interesting museum. The Vongburi House is perhaps the most beautiful example of a European-Asian-style teak wooden mansion. It dates back from the late 19th-early 20th century, during which Phrae was a center of the teak industry.
The Khum Chao Luang, aka the Phrae Governor’s House, is a brick building dating back to the early 20th century. It was the residence of the last ruler of Phrae before Phrae lost its independence to the kingdom of Siam. It is now open to the public as a museum. It is time for lunch! We recommend a bowl of delicious Khao Soi.
Old missionary houses
Just as Lampang, the city was a center of teak logging. We will visit the teak museum, the former office of one of the logging firms on the Yom River. Right on the Yom River was the former office of the Forestry Department. Unfortunately, they demolished this iconic building which led to an enormous public outcry. The Fine Arts Department tries to reconstruct the original building. We will have a look at the progress. Next, we will visit the two 100-year old missionary houses of which one has been restored. The US Consulate in Chiang Mai financed the restoration. Unfortunately, the second house is in a deplorable state. Both houses were originally located on the Yom River before it changed its course.
Day 3 – Phrae – Nan
Wat Prathat Cho Hae
The final visit today is to Wat Phrathat Cho Hae, which is perhaps the most sacred Buddhist site of Phrae. A visit to Phrae is not complete without visiting this impressive temple. The highlight is the 33-meter-tall Chiang Saen-style Phra that (pagoda), wrapped with bright brass sheets, which enshrines the holy relics of Lord Buddha.
Overnight will be at the Huan Na Na Resort.
Mo Hom, the indigo shirt
After breakfast, we will visit the local market of Phrae. We love visiting fresh markets. There are several old “Gingerbread” houses near the market. We will have a look at a few of them. Continue to Baan Pa Ngeum, which is well known for “Mo Hom,” the traditional indigo blue shirt. You will get an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of a Mo Hom workshop and learned about the production process. You can dye your own Mo Hom shirt! This is a fun activity.
Phrae Muang Phi
After this, we will visit Phrae Muang Phi, a protected area with strange, eroded rock formations. We will walk through the strange and interesting landscape for a while. Then it’s time for lunch. After lunch, we will continue to Nan. Nan used to be an independent kingdom until the early 20th century. Primarily local Thai tourists visit this city so that you will see few western visitors.
We spend the night at the Nan Boutique Hotel.
Day 4 – Nan
Chao Fongkham House
After breakfast, we will visit the Chao Fongkham House, a large, rambling teak house in classic northern Thai style set in a beautiful garden, about 150 years old. We continue to the Nan Museum, which gives an overview and a short history of the Nan kingdom, which was independent until the early 20th century. More history awaits us if we are heading to the Nan Christian School, a historic building dating back more than 100 years. An exhibition tells about the history of the Mission of the Presbyterian School.
Wat Prathat Chae Haeng and Wat Prathat Khao Noi
After lunch, we will visit Wat Phumin, Wat Prathat Chae Haeng, and Wat Phrathat Khao Noi. Wat Phumin is famous for its wonderful murals. Your guide will explain the meaning of these. Wat Phrathat Chae Haeng undoubtedly is the most sacred temple in Nan. Many Thai Buddhist visit this temple. It is located across the Nan River, a couple of km outside of the town.
Finally, we will visit Wat Phrathat Khao Noi with its standing Buddha statue. A Naga staircase leads to the temple, but it is also possible to get to the temple by car. We recommend walking the steps. Once you have reached the temple, you are rewarded with a fantastic view of Nan and the valley. The temple is famous for its golden Buddha statue you can see from far away. After our Nan temple tour, we return to the hotel.
We spend another night at the Nan Boutique Hotel.
Nan – Phayao – Chiang Mai
After breakfast, we will drive back to Chiang Mai. Along the way, we will stop at Phayao. This town was the capital of one of the Lanna kingdoms. Phayao is famous for its beautiful lake, called Kwan Phayao. The construction of a dam created this artificial lake in 1941 that was a swamp before. Enjoy the magnificent views of the lake while a local paddle boat brings to you Wat Tilok Aram, the most famous Buddhist site of Phayao. The lake has submerged this temple, but you can visit a floating platform containing a small Buddha statue, which sits directly above the location of the submerged temple. After lunch, we will continue to Chiang Mai, where we will arrive in the late afternoon.