Calling Nan’s airfield an airport is pushing it a bit but since they do have a sealed runway and regular, daily, scheduled services we’ll humour them. Indeed they actually connect with Chiang Mai twice a week and Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport no less than four times per day. The Chiang Mai flight, run by Kan Air, departs Fridays and Sundays at 14:50 and costs around 1,890 baht while the Bangkok planes leave at 08:45, 10:35, 12:45 and 17:05 with prices varying widely between 1,500 and 3,000 depending upon time and date. These are ATR prop planes so allow an hour for Chiang Mai and 1.5 hours for Bangkok. Times seem to vary too so do please check beforehand.
Nan’s tiny airport is located just to the north of the town centre and its code is NNT. Airport taxis will set you back 100 baht to any downtown hotel.
Airport enquiries: T: (054) 710 270, (054) 771 279.
Kan Airlines: T: (025) 516 111; www.kanairlines.com.
Nok Air: T: (054) 711 028, (054) 771 308; nokair.com.
The nearest train station is in Den Chai, which is about 2.5 hours from Nan city. Buses run every couple of hours to Den Chai from Nan, and even more regularly in the opposite direction. If for any reason you get stuck without a ride to Den Chai, you can always take a bus to Phrae, which are frequent, then take a songtaew from there, which leave quite frequently from the southern end of town.
Although remote, Nan is well connected to the rest of Thailand by road transport. The reliable Nakhon Chai Air have 17:30 and 19:00 night buses for Bangkok (Mor Chit station), costing 559 baht, while Sombat Tour runs a morning bus to Bangkok at 09:00 as well as evening ones at 18:30 and 19:30 plus a VIP sleeper at 19:45. Regular air-con cost 540 baht and the VIP 840 baht. The government company 999 schedules 2nd class air-con buses for 08:00 in the morning and 18:40 and 19:00 in the evening and 1st class at 08:00, 19:00 and 19:10. Finally they offer a VIP bus at 19:30. Prices are identical to Sombat plus 2nd class tickets are 420 baht. These buses stop at Phrae, Phitsanulok and Nakhon Sawan among other stops enroute to Bangkok except for 999’s 08:00 2nd class Bangkok service, which goes via Phrae, Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet costing 75, 202, 351 baht respectively. Bangkok is a long trip -- allow at least 10 hours.
Another long haul ride is Nakhon’s Nan to Rayong service stopping at Chonburi and Pattaya, departing at 16:30 and 18:00 and costing 718 baht. (We also saw 811 baht advertised for the same service so, again, check.)
For more regional destinations, Green Bus is once again the most reliable and they offer two alternative routes for the Chiang Mai buses; one via Phayao and the other via Phrae and Lampang. There’s not much in it kilometre-wise but the Lampang highway is faster, though the Phayao route more scenic. Via Phayao they depart Nan at 08:00 and 12:30 (2nd class 225 baht), 07:00, 07:30, 15:00 (1st class 290 baht) and 10:45 and a 22:30 (sleeper VIP, 451 baht).
For Nan to Chiang Mai stopping at Phrae, Den Chai, Lampang and Lamphun, there are hourly departures between 06:00 and 17:00 plus a VIP night sleeper at 00:10 with prices as per the Phayao run. Allow six hours via Lampang and nearer seven on the Phayao route.
We also saw a Nan to Chiang Rai service via Phayao advertised costing 134 baht to Phayao and 181 to Chiang Rai, with 09:00 and 13:00 departures.
For Chiang Rai province destinations including Mae Sai you’re best off changing in Phayao while for any Isaan destinations change at Phitsanulok. There are indeed air-con coaches for Uttaradit and Phitsanolok only departing 07:45, 09:45, 11:00, 14:30 and 17:15 costing 182 baht or a minibus service heading for that central transport hub daily at 05:00, 08:00, 09:20 and 12:00 for 95 baht.
For destinations within Nan province you have minibus services which run up and down Route 1080 stopping at: Pua, Chiang Klang and Thung Chang terminating at the Huay Kon border crossing. In the opposite direction the same service feeds Phrae town as well as Den Chai railway station. Schedules seem so vague as to not be worth noting and as with many minibus services departures are simply when the van is full, so again – check in advance. There are also minibuses for Phayao but with a seriously winding route we’d recommend sticking to the larger Green Buses.
Finally old fan-cooled red buses splutter their way up north too, stopping at Tham Wang Pha and Pua and supposedly leave hourly. These may be useful for getting to local destinations such as Tham Pha Tub Forest Park, Nong Bua or Pua itself. Pua will set you back 50 baht.
all the above rates and times are approximate and liable to sudden change so check in advance. Most hotel and guesthouse staff will be able to help you and even provide advance tickets for small fees.
Bus terminal enquiries: T: (054) 711 662
Nakhon Chai Air: T: (054) 774 499
Green Bus: T: (054) 710 760
Sombat Tour: T: (054) 741 666
Nan has no tuk tuks so you have the choice of cycle rickshaws or motorbike taxis, both of which should get you between most central points for 30 or 40 baht. Songthaews servicing surrounding villages are useful for nearby locations such as Wat Prathat Khao Noi, Wat Prathat Chae Haeng or the bus station, for example, but you’ll need some help from your guesthouse as to where to find the right one. We couldn’t find an office for Nan taxi service but there were plenty of their signs around and your accommodation staff will know them so if you want to travel around the province in style give them a call to check their rates. The airport is 100 baht, Wat Prathat Khao Noi return 200 baht but they’ll also happily take you further afield to, for example, Bo Kluea, Pua or Soi Din if you give them enough cash.
Nan Taxi: T: (054) 773 555, (084) 617 077
Several Nan guesthouses offer bicycle and motorbike rental – the former is free at certain places – though there are various cafes and travel agents offering the same service. Rentals of bicycle, motorbike or both are available at Sukkasem, Nan Lanna, Nan Guesthouse, S. P. and Dheveraj Hotels. The Nan Hilltribe Silver souvenir shop next to Kasikorn bank on Sumondhewaraj Road advertises bicycle, motorbike or car hire plus they have a second location a bit further down the street past the crossroads opposite the Chinese temple. Lanna Cafe also offer bicycles for 80 baht and motorbikes for 250-300 baht daily. You shouldn’t have any problems picking up a bike or motorbike in town.
Nan Hill-tribe Silver: Sumondhewaraj Rd, T: (081) 472 4131; open daily 08:00-18:00.