10 Things you should know before travelling to Nan, Thailand
Where is Nan Located?
Nan is a rural province in northern Thailand bordering Laos, known for its stunning landscapes and beautiful countryside.
How to Travel to Nan
Although it is possible to catch a bus to Nan from Bangkok, it’s a very long journey, around 11 hours. The quickest and easiest way to Nan is to fly with Nok air on one of their daily flights from Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport.
There are three main seasons in Northern Thailand, the cool season from November to February, the hot season from March to June and the rainy season from July to October
- The cool season
The maximum temperatures reach a comfortable 25° C, nights and early morning are cool in the city 15°, cold in the countryside 10° and sometimes freezing in the mountains
- During the hot season
It can reach temperatures of 40° C in hot season and doesn’t drop below 25°C at night.
- During the raining season
The top temperatures stay over 30° C and evenings can be hot or cool depending on whether it has been raining or not. The humidity is very high in rainy season.
Nan town boasts some very impressive temples such as Phra That Chae Haeng, Wat Ming Muang and the stunning Wat Phumin, all of which can be reached on foot. If you are an art lover, there is a fantastic riverside gallery showcasing local artist’s work. If you want to learn more about the history of Nan, we suggest taking a trip to the Nan National Museum.
The food in Nan is Lanna (Northern Thai) and their most famous dish is khao soi, a coconut based curry with egg noodles. Other must-try dishes include khanom jeen nam ngiaw (tomato and pork sauce on thin rice noodles), sai ua (northern Thai sausage) and khao kan jin (rice with pork blood in banana leaf). You can try all of these dishes at a restaurant call Wanda in Nan Town.
Nan is also famous for producing some of Thailand’s best coffee and there are some excellent coffee shops all over town. Our favourite of these is Cafe Soodgongdee, located on the Eastside of the river, where they serve excellent coffee and solid Thai and western food. Cafe Soodgongdee looks quite small from the outside but opens out into a great space once you get inside. There’s a fairly large open air seating area which runs up to another area overlooking the Nan River.
There is much more to the province of Nan than just the town itself, the surrounding countryside is absolutely breathtaking.
- Chiang Klang.
Take a trip to Chiang Klang to ride a bike around the local villages, up to the nearby Nan river. The whole of Chiang Klang is steeped in natural beauty. If you love to get out of the city and take in the countryside, then this could be the place for you. On the way back to Nan town, don’t miss a stop at the stunning Wat Phuket. The temple grounds at Wat Phuket are beautiful but what sets it apart from other temples in Thailand is where it’s situated; high above a valley, overlooking rice paddies, forest, and mountains stretching as far as the eye can see.
- Nam Muap
Nam Muap is located an hour and a half drive from the town and is a great way to experience local village life. You can take a Thai cooking class, using ingredients sourced from the jungle, learn how to weave bamboo baskets and help out on a rice farm, harvesting the grains.
- Traditional Hmong painting
Hmong fabric is a local blue fabric with beautiful patterns that came from the need to weave hemp to make clothes. The simple weaving process was later developed to feature beautiful patterns painted by melted candle or wax. You can learn the traditional methods of Hmong painting and create a piece of original artwork for yourself with a workshop at Uncle Wichai’s house.
The Lanna script is a descendant of the Old Mon script like the Lao religious scripts and Burmese script. It was used to write the Lanna language (also called Northern Thai or Kam Muang – คำเมือง). The Lanna alphabet is used to write Northern Thai (Kam Mu’ang), Tai Lue and Khün languages. It is also used for religious purposes to write Lao Tham (Old Lao), and can be found as the alphabet of old manuscripts in temples in Northern Thailand.
The Lanna language (ล้านนา) is a close relative of Thai and member of the Chiang Saeng languages. It is spoken by about six million people in northern Thailand and several thousand in Laos, but nowadays it is written with the Thai alphabet.
Public transport is almost non existent in Nan so we recommend that you either rent a car on arrival at Nan airport or to organise a driver to take you around for the duration of your stay.
- Nan Boat Racing Festival
Nan traditional long boat festival have been held annually in September or October when the water level is at its peak. Racing boats are usually made from dugout tree trunks and can accommodate up to 60 oarsman, commonly dressed in the same color, in a double row. The event attracts many spectators from around the country. Trophies and prizes are given to the winning team at the end.
- Pink Flower festival
The Pho Dok Chomphoo Phoo Kaban was created for tourists to experience Thai Lue culture together with seeing the Pink flowers at Kaban Mountain. Activities at the festival include a Thai Lue cultural performance, a light and sound performance and a market selling local produce at the Pua District Office, Nan.
How Long Should You Stay?
To really explore Nan and make sure your trip isn’t rushed we recommend staying for 2 nights / 3 days in the town and 4 nights / 5 days in the countryside. That way you can experience everything this wonderful province has to offer.