Nan, ThailandKirsty Turner
Welcome to Nan, a quiet and tranquil province, of heavily forested mountains, the highest of which is Doi Phu Kha, measuring a colossal 2000 meters. Located about 668 kilometres from Bangkok, Nan is nestled in a verdant valley in northern Thailand where you will find a warm welcome and a place to watch the world go by.
The people of Nan were originally from Laos, and the area is full of rich history, culture and interesting architecture. To discover more about the area, a good place to start is the Nan National Museum, whilst the many temples display both Thai and Laos temple art. Temples not to miss include Wat Phrathat Beng Sakat, Wat Phra That Chae Haeng, Wat Nong Daeng, at Chang Kham and the spectacular Wat Phaya Wat.
A good way to get an idea of the area’s beauty is to visit one of the enormous and lush national parks. There are plenty of stunningly beautiful parks to choose from, including the Khun Nan National Park, Nanthaburi National Park, Tham Pha Tup Forest Park and the incredible Doi Phu Kha National Park, which contains caves, waterfalls, remote villages and picturesque forest walks.
Many visitors travel to the Mae Charim National Park in order to go white water rafting. This exciting adventure sport is also available through Nam Wa Rafting. The ‘Earth Pillars’ at Sin Thao are very popular and the Ban Pak Nai Fisherman Village offers an insight into a traditional and relaxed way of life.
Another popular activity is trekking, and it is easy to arrange a three day trek into the mountains, stopping overnight at one of the many small villages or at specially constructed cabins beside a flowing waterfall.
40 kilometres to the north of the town is the pretty little village of Ban Nong Bua. The village is home to the Thai Lu people, who are noted for producing traditional patterned tribal fabric. Ban Bo Suak Kiln Site and Glazed Ceramics is another interesting village, where you can see traditional pottery skills still being employed, and you can dine in one of the converted wooden rafts in the sleepy village Ban Pak Nai, located about 96 kilometres from the town of Nan.
There are many interesting festivals that are enthusiastically celebrated in Nan. The Hok Peng Waisa Mahathat Chae Haen Fair takes place on the full moon night of the 6th northern lunar month or the 4th central lunar month (around the end of February-March). During
this festival, sky rockets are fired as an offering to the Buddha. Another long awaited celebration is the Nan Boat Races. This tradition began in 1936, when boat racing was organized during the community’s robe presentation to the monks after the end of the Buddhist Lent. Nowadays, it takes place around mid-October each year. At the opening of the races food offerings are presented to the priests by drawing lots at Wat Chang Kham Worawihan. After this there is much celebrating and the much loved boat racing, where teams of oarsmen race along the Mae Nam Nan in long, beautifully decorated dragon prow boats.