Photo: Lanna fashion.

Lanna Folklife Museum

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Chiang Mai’s Lanna Heritage Centre, (or Lanna Folklife Museum, depending on which sign you read), is an excellent addition to the city’s museum offerings.

The small and compact museum is well laid out, with interesting exhibits accompanied by clear and unusually well-translated explainers. Housed in the splendid old Chiang Mai courthouse building, which has received a full make-over inside and out, the museum is centrally located in leafy grounds on Phrapokklao Road opposite the Three Kings monument and you could easily spend an hour or so here exploring.

Housed in the well-restored courthouse. Photo taken in or around Lanna Folklife Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Housed in the well-restored courthouse. Photo: Mark Ord

Perhaps more of an exhibition than a museum as such, as there aren’t actually too many old artefacts on display, but rather a series of dioramas demonstrating aspects of Lanna life (Lanna being the name of the old northern Thai kingdom based around Chiang Mai). These include religious, cultural and historical aspects of life during the Lanna period, interspersed with sample relics.

This sort of thing can come across as rather twee, but the displays are well executed and complements the written explanations, which are plentiful and comprehensible. The many wax dummies in Lanna costumes are less stuffy than looking at endless rows of old pots in glass cases, and does make the collection more approachable for kids—this museum is a good spot to take the family.

Some activities have barely changed over the centuries. Photo taken in or around Lanna Folklife Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Some activities have barely changed over the centuries. Photo: Mark Ord

Despite having lived in Thailand’s northern capital for some 15 years, we actually learned a lot from this museum, and for newcomers to Chiang Mai it serves as an excellent introduction. The museum is spread across two floors, but is fairly small, so an hour or so should be ample. If you fancy a break afterwards a small in-house coffee shop enjoys a garden setting and makes for an agreeable spot to sup a brew or juice.

Overall the museum is an excellent initiative on the part of Chiang Mai City Council—deserving of support—and rather a shame that every time we’ve visited we’ve had the place completely to ourselves.

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Lanna Folklife Museum

Prapokklao Rd
Tu–Su: 08:30–17:00
T: (053) 217 793

Location map for Lanna Folklife Museum

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