The charming town of Nan in north east Thailand gives its name to the province of incredible natural landscapes in which it lies.
Quintessentially Thai, Nan has largely escaped mass tourism so far — although that may soon change as word is getting out about this fantastic location.
Our advice? Visit Nan while you can still enjoy an insight into traditional Thai life and benefit from its glorious natural surroundings…
- 1 Nan Weather
- 2 How to get to Nan
- 3 Things to do in Nan
- 4 Nan Hotels
Thanks to its tropical monsoon climate, the weather in Nan is warm all year round — although the province will experience sudden, thundery showers from April to October, when average temperatures stay high, if a little more humid.
From October onwards, the rain storms ease off and temperatures drop to between 17°C and 26°C on average, until January when they start to rise again and things can hot up right into the high 30°Cs.
The best time to visit Nan is when the weather is drier but temperatures are pleasant, from December to March.
How to get to Nan
There are usually five flights daily from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport to Nan’s tiny airport, with a flight time of around 1.5 hours.
Air Asia and Nok Air cover the route, with tickets costing between 1500 and 3000 THB. The airport is just a little out of town, but taxis will be waiting to take you on your onward journey.
Alternatively, making your way by bus from Bangkok to Nan is a cheap and convenient option, although the journey from Bangkok does take around 10 hours. If you choose to travel by bus, the night buses from Mor Chit station are ideal and cost about 600 THB.
If you prefer to travel by train, you can only take the train part of the way to Den Chai rail station in Phrae. From there you’ll need to catch a bus connection to take you the rest of the way — a two and a half hour bus journey.
From Chiang Mai
Wisdom Airways and Kan Air planes fly twice a week from Chiang Mai airport to Nan, with flights taking approximately 1 hour, and costing around 1900 THB.
Another choice is to make you way by bus, with the Green Bus company providing several departures daily, as well as a sleeper bus. Buses are very cheap, with the journey taking between 5.5 and 6 hours to complete.
Things to do in Nan
Breathtaking Nan province has a whole host of attractions to enjoy, including 7 national parks, hill tribe villages, museums, galleries, and temples.
Here are some of the best things to do in Nan…
Doi Phu Kha National Park
The largest national park in northern Thailand, Doi Phu Kha National Park is a natural wonderland sprawling out across 1700 square kilometres of forest blanketed mountains, gushing rivers and savannah, plus plenty of interesting flora and fauna.
The park is named after the rare chomphu phuka trees that grow only here, and which produce spectacular large pink blooms in the spring.
This is a great place for hiking, with several marked trails, and it’s also possible to camp in the park.
Tham Pha Tup Forest Park
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Boasting some of the most spectacular scenery in Nan province, Tham Pha Tup Forest Park is conveniently just minutes away from Nan town.
Towering limestone cliffs overhang lush jungle valleys, complete with several caves to explore. It’s a joy to hike here, and there are trails of varying difficulty to enjoy.
As an added bonus you can camp here surrounded by brightly coloured butterflies and twittering birds.
Wat Phra That Khao Noi
High on the top of Khao Noi hill just out of town, the temple of Wat Phra That Khao Noi delights with beautiful, expansive vistas of the surrounding valleys, paddy fields and mountains.
Not only that, but it has huge historical significance due to the fact that it houses a sacred Buddha relic in the main chedi.
Built in the 1480s, the temple is topped with a splendid 9 metre high golden Buddha statue, but what really makes this temple worth a visit are the wonderful views.
Sao Din Na Noi
The twisted sandstone columns, pillars and cliffs create a magical landscape to explore at Sao Din Na Noi — around 50 kilometres south from Nan town.
The area may once have been a Neolithic settlement, as several examples of stone tools and weapons have been found here.
In any case it is an intriguing site to explore, and there are a few good trails which wind around the eroded rock formations.
Nan Loop on a Motorbike
If getting around on two wheels is your thing, doing the Nan loop is a must.
This circular route can be done in a few different ways, and takes you through a variety of wonderful landscapes which include waterfalls and caves, lakes and hot springs, villages and temples.
The whole route takes 3 to 4 days to complete at a reasonable pace with time to explore.
The Temple of the Whispering Lovers, Wat Phumin is the most famous temple in Nan city.
Constructed at the end of the 16th century, Wat Phumin features some unique Thai Lü architecture, but the real jewel in this temple’s crown are the beautiful, vividly coloured murals that cover the interior walls, which are not only wonderful examples of art in their own right, but which also depict scenes which give an interesting glimpse into the daily life of the ancient Thai Lü people.
Nan National Museum
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Based on the site of the palace of the last ruler of Nan, the Nan National Museum houses a well curated collection of artefacts relating to local hill tribe and Nan culture, plus archaeological discoveries dating back to the Neolithic period.
Amongst the highlights are some rare Buddha images, ancient weaponry, ceramics, and royal paraphernalia, and an enormous nearly 1 metre long black elephant tusk allegedly presented to a Nan lord over 300 years ago.
Wat Ming Muang
Surely one of the most beautiful temples in Nan province, 700 year old Wat Ming Muang is decorated with intricate white stucco work depicting Buddhist gods and mythical creatures.
The interior of the Auspicious Temple of the City features painted murals showing the way of life of the Nan people. In the temple grounds, the 3 metre high city pillar is enshrined in a four sided Thai style pavilion.
Nan Riverside Art Gallery
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Founded by famous Nan artist Winai Prabripoo, the Nan Riverside Art Gallery is a stage for up and coming local artists to show their works.
Set in pleasant gardens on the riverside, the gallery features exhibition rooms showing contemporary paintings, sculptures and mixed media artworks, and makes an interesting diversion when visiting Nan province.
Located in the centre of Nan city, Casa Foresta Nan offers individual air conditioned bungalow style accommodations in pretty landscaped gardens with modern en suite bathrooms, some with terrace or balcony, and all equipped with tea and coffee making facilities.
There is no hotel restaurant, but guests are welcome to enjoy a full continental buffet breakfast to start the day.
- Buffet breakfast
- Great central location
Well situated in Nan city not far from the bus station and airport, Nan Sripanna offers stylish and spacious rooms featuring floor to ceiling windows, private terrace with lovely mountain views, luxurious en suite bathrooms, large flat screen televisions, tea and coffee making facilities, plus a lounge area for relaxing in comfort.
Nan Sripanna is ideal for families as little ones can keep themselves occupied at the hotel playground, and every morning guests can wake up to a delicious buffet breakfast.
- Mountain views
- Good location
- Buffet breakfast
The 3 star Baan Suan Leelawadee Resort Nan benefits from a lovely garden setting with large family sized outdoor swimming pool with sun deck.
Each comfortable room has a balcony or terrace with views out across the garden, and includes en suite bathroom, flat screen television, air conditioning, fridge, and seating area.
For added relaxation, guests can request a traditional Thai massage, or rent a bicycle or boat for the day to explore the nearby area. A hearty buffet breakfast is provided every morning.
- Individual chalet style accommodation
- Good breakfast
- Outdoor swimming pool
- Massage available on request
- Bicycle and boat hire
This cute, boutique style hotel sits on the banks of the Nan river, just 9 kilometres from Nan city.
Ideally located for river trips, kayaking, fishing, hiking, or bicycling, Nan De Panna offers a variety of accommodation to suit all types of traveller, from spacious loft style suites to traditional bamboo huts.
Rooms are modern and boast balconies or terraces, air conditioning, big screen televisions, refrigerators and en suite bathrooms, and some suites feature fully equipped kitchenettes.
After a hard day seeing the sights, guests can relax in the hotel spa with hot tub, or indulge in a soothing Thai massage. The hotel also benefits from a restaurant and bar serving tasty Thai delicacies.
- Riverside location
- Buffet breakfast
Have you visited Nan yet?