Nan Tourist Attractions
Nan is situated near the border with the Menam Nan valley, one of the large tributaries of the Menam Chao Phraya, encircled by high mountain chains.
The roughness of the terrain ensured the continued existence of a small kingdom up until this century. The town possesses important temple sites and the surrounding area will fill nature lovers with enthusiasm. Nan's sweet oranges are famous, likewise the art objects made of reeds, which women and children make in their homes.By car: from Phrae Highway 101 (125 km (78 mi.)); from Chiang Rai Highway 1 to Ngao, Highway 103 as far as Rong Khem, then 101.By bus: from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Lamphang, Phrae and Phayao.By air: from Bangkok via Chiang Mai or Phitsanulok.Traces of a settlement in the province of Nan date from about 1280. From the beginning of the 15th c. Nan was part of a kingdom, ruled by King Boroma Trailokanat (1448-88). For a time the kings of Nan were obliged to pay tribute to those of Chiang Mai, and for 200 years they were vassals of the Burmese, later the kings of Ayutthaya. However, the kings of Nan always held certain privileges. Nan was only annexed to the kingdom of Siam in 1931.
The architecture of the early Nan period contains features of both the Mon and the Chiang-Saen styles, while later Nan constructions feature the Sukhothai style. The town's famous temple, Wat Phumin, located south of the province's administrative buildings in Suriyaphong Road, dates from 1596 and contains elements of style from all periods. It has a cruciform ground plan and its triple-stepped roofs are graduated upwards to the crossing, which is crowned by a gracious canopy. The four symmetrical entrances, approached by short, beautifully curved, lion-guarded flights of steps, have richly embellished, carved portals. Within the wat four Sukhothai-style, seated, bronze lions surround the cube-shaped altar. Pillars and elaborate timberwork support a richly decorated coffered ceiling. The frescos date from the 19th c. and depict, in vivid pictures painted in unusually bright colors, scenes from the country's history, particularly battles, and from the early life of Buddha (the "Jataka"). At the same time they portray the life style of the population of northern Thailand.
Wat Cham Kang
Literally translated, the "temple carried by elephants" is located opposite the government buildings. Its beautiful 15th/16th c. chedi, whose pedestal is borne by 28 elephant sculptures, is typical.The two shrines contain some marvelous Sukhothai-style statues of Buddha. The first has a walking Buddha and also one which is standing, with outstretched arms and open hands; the second a walking, golden Buddha. For centuries this Buddha was hidden beneath a thick layer of plaster; when it was decided to move it to another site, however, the plaster came off. Inscriptions on the pedestals of the first two figures mentioned reveal that King Ngua Pha Sum commissioned the completion of five statues in 1426; the two other life-size figures, perhaps the most beautiful in the series, stand in Wat Phaya Phun.
A 300-year-old elephant's tusk, one of Nan's chief attractions, is kept in one of the government buildings. Shorter and thicker than the usual tusk, its ivory color has gradually turned blackish-yellow over time.
The Mon-style town walls, built in an oval, were constructed in 1857, after the Menam Nan had flooded several times and destroyed the old fortifications.
Wat Suan Tan
Wat Suan Tan is situated at the northern end of Pakwang Road and was founded in 1456 by the wife of the first king of Nan. Its statue of a seated Buddha in the Sukhothai style with Chiang Mai style features and its 40 m (131 ft) prang-like chedi are of note.