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The town of Lamphun was established around the ninth century by a group of former Buddhist monks who had travelled from Lopburi and founded the state of Haripunchai. Their first ruler, Chamma Thewi, was the daugher of Lopburi's ruler and she established a dynasty lasting a few hundred years.

During this period, Lopburi was seen as the centre of learning for the region, and young novices travelled south to Lopburi for instruction. The state of Haripunchai fell in 1281 as a result of sly manoevring by King Mangrai who incorporated it into his northern Lanna kingdom.

Situated around 26 km to the southeast of Chiang Mai, Lamphun's quiet and charming provincial feel is enhanced by lotus-filled moats and old religious buildings, although considering its age and history, monuments to attest to the past are fairly few and far between.

Most of the sights, such as the more contemporary Wat Phra That Hariphunchai and its associated National Museum, are easily visited on foot and are worth more than a cursory glance.

One of the highlights of Lamphun is the actual trip from Chiang Mai. By taking the old way via Route 106, you will travel along a scenic route, 12 km of which is lined by beautiful 30-metre tall Yang trees which are often wrapped in decorative cloth. Also along the road are a selection of garden restaurants and the small town of Saraphi which is known as a centre for basketry and bamboo furniture. These can all serve as a pleasant break in the journey if arriving on your own wheels.

Lamphun is known among Thais for its beautiful women and tasty longans. In August the capital plays host to the Longan Fair.

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Text and/or map last updated on 11th August, 2009.

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