With beautiful mountain scenery and sparsely frequented roads, Nan province offers some great circular motorbike routes. Though perhaps not quite comparable to the Mae Hong Son loop in scenery terms, and lacking the variety of stop-off points you find along the Chiang Rai loop, Nan itineraries have a very good compromise of the two, plus the remote province does have more of an ... Read more about The Nan loop by motorbike .
A shoe in for a Lord of the Rings film set, the spectacular karst scenery of Tham Pha Tup Forest Park lies just off Route 101 a mere 10 kilometres north of downtown Nan and makes for some excellent hiking. Here a small range of limestone hills rise abruptly from paddy and farmland. The hills feature classic karst scenery of jagged cliffs and caves while lush jungle coats the slopes and shady ... Read more about Tham Pha Tup Forest Park .
Constructed in 1857, Wat Ming Muang is a much more recent temple than Wat Phumin, but well worth adding to any old town tour by virtue of its spectacular and highly elaborate decorations. The exterior of the main hall is covered with finely crafted, white painted, stucco reliefs with Buddhist themes while the interior walls are coated with mural scenes of everyday life in Nan. These are a recent ... Read more about Wat Ming Muang .
As well as all the Thai and north Thai fare on offer plus the usual wealth of weird and wonderful fruit, vegetables and herbs, you'll find a few sit down spots at Nan's morning market if you want to sample some local snacks or noodle dishes. Alternatively, plonk yourself down on the terrace of Coffee Sound opposite with a local Arabica and take in all the hustle and bustle. If you’re lucky you ... Read more about Markets .
A slightly surprising find – it's rather in the middle of nowhere – is the nicely laid out Nan Riverside Art gallery. Attractive, well maintained gardens host some sculptures, as well as a coffee shop, souvenir store and spacious, two-storey, principal gallery building. The gallery shows paintings by local artists and though we’re no expert we found some offerings to be of very good ... Read more about Nan Riverside Art Gallery .
The Sao Din site displays an intriguing and picturesque landscape of eroded sandstone pillars, columns and cliffs similar to neighbouring Phrae’s Phae Mueang Phi Park, Pai Canyon or Mae Wang National Park’s Pha Chor. The latter is the most spectacular and Pai Canyon the most extensive but Sao Din is definitely more eye-catching than Phrae’s much touted ‘City of Ghosts’. In Phrae ... Read more about Sao Din Na Noi .
Time was when Nan was an up and coming trekking area – an adventurous alternative to Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son and so-on. These days though you’ll be hard pushed to find many options on travel agents’ menus. It's something of a chicken and egg dilemma we reckon and though there are certainly fewer foreign visitors making it up to Nan than say back in the 1990s, and so less incentive to ... Read more about Tours, trekking and rafting .
Wat Phumin, lying in the heart of Nan’s old town, is the best known and most prestigious of Nan’s ancient temples. According to chronicles it was founded in 1596 as a private temple of the former city state’s royal family though the splendid murals, its principal contemporary claim to fame, date from the mid-19th century and the reign of Rama V. We would say Phumin is Nan’s must-see ... Read more about Wat Phumin .
Originally the site of the palace of Lord Phrachao Suriyaphong Pharidet, last ruler of Nan, the spot was converted to fill the role of first town hall of Nan upon its assimilation into the kingdom of Siam in 1932. In 1974, even though the town was still officially off limits to visitors, it realised its current incarnation as the Nan National Museum. It is an attractive building and indeed the ... Read more about Nan National Museum .
Another highly revered Nan temple, Wat Phrathat Chae Haeng is located on a low hill around three kilometres to the east of the town centre. This is one of the oldest wats in the area and indeed the original town of Nan was situated around this hill overlooking the Nan River, though apart from the temple no remains can be seen today. Information signs – which we have learned to take with a ... Read more about Wat Phra That Chae Haeng .
Another of Nan’s revered wats, Hua Khuang has a simple but attractive layout and with its central location is another that’s worthy of inclusion in any tour of old Nan’s sights. The most photoworthy feature is a spectacular old library or scripture hall, a two-storey construction with a brick and plaster coated base and a teak upper floor with gold-painted decoration. The main worshipping ... Read more about Wat Hua Khuang .
Set almost straight across from the Nan National Museum, this is the second most important wat in Nan. Not as well known as its more illustrious neighbour Wat Phumin, Wat Prathat Chang Kham is also a former royal temple plus it is thought to date from over a century earlier. It’s said to have been constructed in the early 15th century for royal ceremonies and indeed originally had the name ... Read more about Wat Phra That Chang Kham .
A second prestigious hilltop temple – Wat Phra That Khao Noi -- lies just outside town, though in this case the hill is higher than at Wat Phra That Chae Haeng and the views correspondingly more spectacular. In fact, the view of Nan town with a nine-metre golden walking Buddha image in the foreground is something of an iconic Nan image and features in many of its tourist brochures and posters. ... Read more about Wat Phra That Khao Noi .