Lovely Lampang is a beautiful, rural, and often missed province in Thailand’s far north.
It has a long and impressive history dating back to well before the 7th century CE, when it was an important city of the Hariphunchai empire, and later absorbed into the Lanna Kingdom.
While some foreign tourists do head to this province, the numbers are tiny compared with places like Chiangmai. This leaves Lampang relatively unspoiled.
Wat Chaloem Phrakiat Phrachomklao Rachanusorn
This is one of those places that really is stunning, that leaves you speechless, plus the views across Lampang province are incredible.
Getting there entails a bit of effort. I’d recommend hiring a car in Lampang town and enjoy the scenic drive to the base of Pu Yak mountain.
The temple is spread across several high jagged peaks on the mountain.
On arrival you need to pay an admission fee which includes a 10 minute songtaew ride to the trail entrance.
After that, it’s a fairly steep 1km hike up a series of rough rock stairs. The views will make you forget the walk up!
Wear a hat and some sunscreen, and don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Thailand is hot and humid!
Tham Pha Thai National Park
Tham Pha Thai National Park is about 65km from Lampang town.
It’s famous for the many picturesque stalactites and stalagmites in the Tham Pha Thai cave, and other wonders.
The large chamber inside the cave originates from a limestone mountain which is believed to be formed more than 9 million years ago. The cave is also a home to thousands of bats which roost here.
Lom Phu Khiao is a giant pool of water in the middle of the mountain. The pool itself is so deep it creates a picturesque image of deep turquoise water like a blue lagoon.
A wonderful waterfall isn’t far away.
Mae Chaem Fa waterfall has clear, clean water flowing down its nine tiers. Each tier is beautiful with emerald green cascades, which is a specific to a waterfall on a limestone mountain.
An unusual sight in Thailand are pre-historic wall paintings. One of the very few in Thailand is on one of the park trails near Huai Hok and is believed to be about 3000 years old.
Getting there: Tham Pha Thai National Park is 65km from Lampang town. From there follow Highway 1 (Lampang-Chiang Rai Road) as far as the Km 65 marker where the park is.
Khun Tan National Park
Although remote this wonderful unspoiled wilderness is not too hard to get to from Bangkok or Chiangmai as a main rail line runs right through the center of the park.
The station to get off at is called Khun Tan.
Virgin jungles and pine forests fill the park, which is also home to a wide range of flora and fauna.
You’ll find some really stunning views if you hike up to the summit of the 1373 meter high Doi Khun Tan mountain.
Getting there: Follow Highway 11 (Lampang to Lamphun road) until the Km47 marker. Turn at the fork and follow the road for another 18km.
Lampang town is the provincial capital of Lampang province, and although it’s small it is a treasure house of beautiful historic buildings, including some stunning temples and traditional Lanna houses.
A fun way to get around town is to hire one of the many horse drawn carriages, which will take you to see the many fascinating sights at quite reasonable rates.
Ban Sao Nak is a good starting point as it’s more or less right in the town center.
This beautiful house was built in 1895 in Lanna and Burmese style, and was used as an official guest house for visiting VIPs.
Now it’s an impressive and well-cared for unusual museum, with some pretty gardens and a small cafe.
Nearby on the bank of the Wang River is the town’s main temple, the 14th Century Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao.
The temple was built on top of an earlier Mon temple that, according to local legend, was built by the son of Queen Chama Devi of the Hariphunchai empire in the 7th century.
It’s considered important as it housed the famous and sacred Emerald Buddha for 34 years in the 15th Century.
Lampang is a compact town easy to walk or bike around, and there are lots of other hidden treasures to find, not least the Kad Kong Ta Street Market.
Every weekend the street near the iconic Ratchadapisek Bridge is closed to traffic from 4pm to 10pm and becomes a street market.
Local traders and craftsmen selling souvenirs, handicrafts, clothes, antiques and local food line the street in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, including music and other entertainment.
Wat Phra That Lampang Luang
This unusual example of a fortified temple lies about 15km from Lampang town, and can be reached quite easily by car or songtaew.
(This video was made on a festival day. The temple isn’t usually so busy)
The temple is one of the best examples of Lanna architecture in Thailand. The open sided viharns are typical of the early Lanna style.
The oldest structure on the site is the the chedi, which is covered with bronze and copper sheets. It’s age is uncertain but repair work was believed to have been done to it in the 14th Century.
Local belief is that it enshrines a hair of the Lord Buddha.
Swords of Steel
If you can find it, South East Asia’s last remaining sword maker quietly works out of a nondescript building in Hang Chat district in Lampang’s west.
The craft of sword making is a dying one, and Ajarn Bunthun is one of the last men to pass this tradition on to the next generation.
He is one of the few people still making the traditional ‘dah’ sword.
The region has a long tradition of sword use, for warfare, as practical tools, and for ceremonies.
He exports his products to Germany, France, Switzerland, Singapore, and Malaysia. Businesses from these countries find examples of his swords online. Some import Thai swords, others provide designs for him to recreate and he modifies them to make them easier to hold.
It’s well worth the effort to find his workshop as you’re unlikely to see anything like it anywhere else in Thailand.
Ask around and you’ll be rewarded!
We hope you enjoyed your brief visit to Lampang, and that you’ll find your way there soon for real.
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