NAN ATTRACTIONS Nan is a remote province, yet one that is richly rewarding in both its cultural and sce- nic attractions. The town of Nan nestles in the verdant valley of the river of the same name, surrounded by densely forested hills, and was formerly an independent city state back in the 13th century.
NAN NATIONAL MUSEUM
Housed in what was formerly the residence of the ruler of Nan, the museum is an excellent starting point for a tour of the town, its displays highlighting the region’s history and the evolution of the arts.
WAT PHRATHAT CHAE HAENG
Perhaps the most impressive of Nan’s venerable temples, Wat Phrathat Chae Haeng lies about 2 kilometres from town on Highway 1168, east of the Nan River. This was the original site of the settlement until some 600 years ago when the king moved the town to the west bank in response to the promptings of adream. Occupying an elevated spot, reached by a naga-flankedstairway, Wat Phrathat Chae Haeng is a walled temple dating from the 14th century and is dominated by a 55-metre-high chedi. Of equally awe-inspiring proportions is the image hall,a marvellous structure of Laotian influence characterised by a three-tiered, five-level roof.
WAT CHANG KHAM WORAIMAGE HALL
Located opposite the museum, Wat Chang Kham Worawihanwas originally built in 1406, subsequently restored severaltimes, and is named after its chedi, which has elephant (chang) buttresses around its base. Enshrined at the temple is a superb 145-cm.-high statue of a walking Buddha made of pure gold.
Situated nearby, Wat Phumin is a magnificent temple of excep- tional beauty. The hall dates from the late 16th century and has an atypical cruciform pattern. The interior is as charming as the external architecture and is dominated by a splendid centrepiece of four Buddha statues facing the four cardinal points, while thewalls are covered with fine mural paintings that depict the storyof one of the Buddha’s previous incarnations, as well as intrigu- ing scenes of provincial life.
WAT SUAN TAN
The temple, dating back to the 15th century, is dominated by a beautiful chedi, and is renowned for its important 500-year-oldBuddha image known as Phra Chao Thong Thip, a 4.1-metre high bronze statue sculpted in the Sukhothai style.
Located just before reaching town on Highway 101, Wat Phay- awat is remarkable for its chedi constructed in the form of asteep pyramid with a stepped base of five tiers each with nichescontaining Buddha images.
BAN NONG BUA
This Thai Lue village is located about 40 kilometres north of Nan town along Highway 1080, and an additional 3 kilometres off to the left. The villagers are noted for producing a traditional tribal fabric, while the village’s Wat Nong Bua is a good example of Thai Lue temple architecture and decoration.
BAN PAK NAI
Ban Pak Nai, about 22 kilometres along the road winding over the shoulder of the mountain some 96 kilometres from theprovincial town, is a fishing village on the bank of the fresh-water lake above the Sirikit Dam in Uttaradit province. Local rafts are turned into restaurants and accommodation for visitors who prefer vacationing amid peaceful natural surroundings. Themost famous food is the many kinds of fresh-water fish caughtin the lake.
DOI PHU KHA NATIONAL PARK
To the north of Nan along Highway No. 1080 in Nong Bua district some 25 kilometres en route to Bo Kluea district lies
the Doi Phu Kha National Park . The terrain is mainly forested lands on limestone mountain ranges, the source of several streams which merge into the Nan River. The elevation is about 1,900 metres above sea level and it is home to near-extinctflora, particularly the Chomphu Phu Kha (bretschneidera ninesishemsl.), whose pink flowers are in full bloom during February.In the morning, a sea of mist can be seen drifting across the valley. There are also several scenic waterfalls. Permits to camp can be obtained. Alternatively, tourists may choose to utilise the accommodation services in the park.
SI NAN NAITONAL PARK
The Si Nan National Park covers extensive forested and moun- tainous areas. Pha Chu is the major attraction in the park. The cliff can be reached by taking the Nan-Wiang Sa – Na Noi routefor 135 kilometres, then turning into Highway No. 1083 and onfor another 22 kilometres. The cliff top offers an excellent view- ing point to enjoy a panoramic vista of the mountains. A nationalflag pole has a lanyard running all the way down to the foot ofthe hill, the longest in the country. There are camping areas for visitors in the park.
This is a natural geological phenomenon of earthen pillars formed by soil erosion, similar to Phae Mueang Phi in Phrae. It is located about 10 kilometres from Na Noi district on Highway1083.
THAM PHA TUP FOREST PARK
Lying some 10 kilometres north of Nan town, this a complex of 17 caves in what is part of a new wildlife reserve.
WA RIVER RAFTING
This exciting activity waits for tourists who like to shoot many rapids. Rafting can be accompanied by elephant riding. The suit- able time for rafting is from September to February. Visitors can contact travel agencies in the town.
NAN SPECIAL EVENTS
TRADITIONAL LONG BOAT RACES
Held in October or November, these are among the largest
and arguably the most exciting of all the traditional longboat regattas held by many riverine communities around Thailand to celebrate the end of Buddhist Lent.