Meet me again ... in the beginning of February. I am hard-working during this period. Last week I went to Myanmar and today I am inviting you to travel in our country.
I put headline on the cover that "Nan: ... The only touristic place in the world (or universe is still applicable) "Chompoo Phu Kha".
You may be curious whether it is the a good period to go or not ... as it has entered into February already. It is when the weather is getting hot. So, you may think winter has passed and Northern part is not suitable to travel anymore ...
Stop ... thinking like that because today 1twenty2 would like to extremely reject this idea. Because expert travelers know that "Nan" has cold weather for whole year. More importantly, it has significant plant that can't be found other places in the world and it blooms only once a year, in February.
And it is in our country! So, let's start the trip and discover the only one in the world "Chompoo Phu Kha".
Last trip I went to Myanmar, if you would like to know how lovely the country is, you can read my marathon review (take 3 days to finish ...LOL).
And if you would like to share your traveling experiences, please go to
This review is a sum up of previous 2-3 Nan trips, not just went there, because this month is the only period that you can the flower. So, I don't want you guys to miss this opportunity.
Our goal is clearly set that we must find one of the most rare flowers in the world "Chompoo Phu Kha". I will go further details about it later. For now let's get to know Nan a little bit.
is a province in North East of Thailand which is at the upper area of the region. Nan is also called "The Sea of Hills" as there are many high mountains lining along Nan river. Or some may call it twin town with Luang Prabang of Laos due to its border connected to Laos. They have opened an international crossing here (Thai Laos Border Crossing Huay Kon). With people, commerce, long history (since Nan was apart of Lanna) and religious, temples have been transferring fine culture to each other.
Going to Nan is not difficult anymore comparing to the past. It is because nowadays Nokair provides direct flight to Nan. Or a flight to Chiang-rai is still okay but need to drive or takes a bus for another 5 hours. Therefore, direct flight seems to be the best choice. It might be slightly expensive but worthwhile.
Traveling in Nan requires around 3-4 days especially the destination is Doi Phukha - Bo Kluea. Should better prepare more time for journey. Before going there, I would like to start with citycenter first as Nan has many interesting places.
If you have time in early morning, I recommend to start the day with "Wat Phra That Khao Noi" (Phra That Khao Noi Temple) which has important Buddha statue of Nan "Phra Puttha Maha Udom Mongkol Nanta Buri Sri Nan". It is the place where everyone should visit and see entire Nan town.
The Buddha is in the classic walking-style with the left hand raised in the giving blessing posture standing to the Eastern. Temple is located on the medium size mountain, Doi Khao Noi, but the view is gorgeous.
Because you will see endless view of Nan town.
I would say morning view up here is magnificent. Apart from taking a deep breath of fresh air, it is a great location to take beautiful sunrise picture giving energy to continue the journey.
Actually, I have written about this place few years ago. It was my first time at Nan. Returning here still gives me the same impression. May I describe more about history of the Buddha statue.
The statue was erected in honour of His Majesty the King's 6th cycle birthday anniversary on December 5, 1999. Although the statue decay by time, the temple often restores. But the budget is not enough, so there are donation boxes placed around the statue area. If you come by, don't forget to donate so that we can keep this beautiful place for new generation.
Following by the town's most important temple "Wat Phra That Chae Haeng"
The temple is located on a small hill, east of town, across the Nan river which is used to be a center of Nan before. In present, the royal temple is settled at "Aumphor Phu Pieng", 3 km. from Muang Nan district. The golden chedi on small hill contains a holy relic which you can easily notice. It is counted as a remembrance of love and good relationship between Nan and Sukhothai in the past.
Phra That Chae Haeng is Phra That for persons who born in The Year of Rabbit. The Lanna believe that if those people have a chance to worship the holy relic, they will receive great result of merit.
Tourists can visit everyday from 6AM to 6PM.
I have been here 2 times to worship and take photos.
Visiting each time gives me different feelings. It could be because I come in different time period. But what I like the most is surrounding area which has been taken good care of.
For me, I feel impressed on both visits.
Don't forget to come worshiping Phra That Chae Haeng if you have a chance to come to Nan.
In the city center.
The best way to travel in Muang Nan is to walk or ride a bicycle.
Because each destination is not far from each other. By walking, you can exercise or ride a bike is also entertaining.
Around Muang Nan, in other words, the old city of Nan, there are lots of important temples.
And the first temple I am going is "Wat Phumin"
Wat Phumin is a royal temple located on the center Nan's old city which is called "Tumbon Wieng" in present. It was constructed in 1596 by Chao Jedboot Phrommintra.
One of the most outstanding features of the temple, it is the only temple which was built as if it were on the back of two immense snakes (or Nagas). At the back, you can see both snakes are very long.
Each of the four entrances is preceded by a small corridor topped by a finely decorated point shaped structure (underlining the royal origin of the temple) and is equipped with smoothly carved doors; with the attitude of subduing Mara.
Inside ubosot, you will see another important signature of Nan which is the mural 'Poo Marn Yar Marn'.
The distinctive murals are the work of Thai Lue artist, Thit Buaphan. The most famous mural scene was labelled by the artist in the local dialect as 'Poo Marn Yar Marn' ('Whispering of Love') but has become better known to most Thais as 'Grasip' which translates to English as the 'Whispering'.
The 'Whispering' becomes sign of Muang Nan and appear on various souvenirs such as T-shirts, postcards or even home accessories.
When I go there, I buy a T-shirt painted this scene with acrylic. Comparing the price with product is very worth.
Fine Arts Department has been taking care and maintaining these paintings for next generation.
Another significant place of Nan is "Nan National Museum". But unfortunately, I go on Monday which it is closed, so I can't walk inside. But the outside is also interesting. The area around museum has lots of trees lining beautifully, suitable for taking photos.
When you go to any towns, a must-visit place is the city shrine. And here is "The City Shire of Nan" located inside "Wat Ming Mueang". It is constructed in 1857. The temple was officially announced in royal decree on November 14, 1967.
In the past, the north area from viharn is the city shire of Nan which is made with large teak, about 2 people hold wide, buried under the ground.
Nan people historically call it "Sao Ming Mueang" or "Sao Ming". Sao Ming Mueang originally made of teak wood, 60 cm. wide and 3 m. tall with lotus bud on top.
The pillars were directly buried in the ground without shire. Until there was a big flood in 1963. The water from Nan river flood into Sao Ming Mueang. The 100-year-old pillars started to decay and fall.
After that, Wat Ming Mueang together with Nan people and related institutes restored the old pillars. The pillars now stands on carved gilded wooden base and is topped with a four-faced Brahma, representing the four virtues of Buddhism.
Then His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, as a representative of the king, was a Great of Honour in the construction ceremony on January 7, 1973.
The current city shire was built on 2005 after the old shire decays. The government and Nan people constructed this new shire.
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, as a representative of the king, was a Great of Honour in the ceremony on February 25, 2008.
The new ubosot is in modern Lanna style and the body was built by "Sala" (Nan's local craftsman).
The elegant stucco was made by Sala, ancient Chiang Saen family. "Saokaew Laodee" was a chief craftsman in embellishing stunning stucco. It took him almost 5 years to finish.
It is totally worthwhile to sight see this beautifully new ubosot and worship the city shire for your fortune.
Personally, I think the stucco here is one of the most beautiful places I have seen.
Before continue the journey, let's stop by at famous Nan restaurant. This restaurant has unique decorations, imitating cowboy style, providing different feelings. The food is a combination between E-Sarn food (north-eastern style) and northern food. This restaurant is called "Puusom Jaokao". The quality is guaranteed by its 40-year business. It has been operated for very long, so the taste must be really good. Guarantee by Mukdaeng (famous TV show). Let's prove it!
Not too long, food is served. This place is decorated in cowboy style but the taste very strong. What I like most is "Northeastern Style Sausage" and "Roasted Spicy Minced Pork" (We were so hungry that we forgot to take photos, sorry for that). The spicy minced pork is a must as it is different from other places. The spicy soup is also very delicious. This is another recommended restaurant if you are looking for real local food.
Now Nan has plenty of accommodations. However, if you are looking for a place to stay without getting up extra early to see sunrise on Wat Phra That Khao Noi, this resort totally suits you, "Sasidara Resort".
It is a boutique styled resort located 500 m. from Wat Phra That Khao Noi. It is easy to find and very convenient. There are also various types of rooms.
I am bringing you to visit "Deluxe Room". The rate on low seasons is around 1xxx THB per night. The room is quite wide.
There is sofa for laying down and watching TV. The room is wide and more importantly very new.
It is equipped with LCD, DVD and large comfy bed.
Bathroom has bathtub. I think it is more luxurious than the price. I remember that night I turn on air condition, go to bed and don't want to wake up in the morning.
I have reviewed some attractions in the city but there are still many other places to go. If you have a chance to go there, riding a bike for half day is enough to tour around the city.
So, it is the time to tour around outlying district, "Nan Riverside Art Gallery". Who knows this small province would have art gallery gathering many ancient art pieces of Nan artists. It also exhibits artistic works from recent artists as well.
The large pavilion has 2 floors displaying many beautiful paintings including modern sculpture and mixed media.
Huge art gallery is located on 20,800 SQM area beside Nan river. It is founded by "Winai Prabrib", Thai artist and native of Nan. As I mentioned earlier that it is a center of art and culture of Nan, inside gallery, there is "Heun Nhan Buaphan" displaying photos of Nan's mural.
The art gallery collects modern arts and keeps rotating the pieces. Therefore, If you love art, you can come at every time. I have been there for 2 times and see fine arts for both times. I would like to encourage everyone to visit this gallery for your pleasure and to boost your imagination.
Another zone is the temporary exhibition. On previous time, there was an exhibition of artists that Thai people should be familiar with his works "Acharn Prasit Chanitraphirak". (acharn = teacher, professor)
Acharn is an expert in metal crafting. He is the "Artist" who creates royal portrait on bank notes. It is the most well known pieces because his work is the design on money we use everyday.
You see ... I told you that his artistic work is well known by everyone.
So, all of his works are printed craft metal similar to ones on bank notes. The only differences are beauty and various stories.
Next is permanent exhibition. I meet Acharn Winai Prabrib here, so he gives me tour around photo exhibition hall. It collects artistic works the artist who paint Poo Marn Yar Marn, called "Heun Nhan Buaphan". All photos have been approved by Wat Phumin already.
I didn't take photos of inside exhibition. If you would like to see, please visit Nan Riverside Art Gallery.
Before leaving, let's see surrounding peaceful atmosphere. As it is beside the river, the air is flowing all the time.
Even at the scenic point, there is also sculpture looking like Poo Marn Yar Marn. I really like it. The artist has good sense of humor and crafting skills. It requires special technique to forge metal.
I also meet field trip of children from other provinces. I appreciate that these kids have a chance to see valuable artworks without struggling to large city.
This can help on imagination of the kids. Who knows, there might be famous artist from Muang Nan.
It's time to go out from the town and heading to our last destination "Doi Phukha - Bo Kluea". Follow me.
The journey to Doi Phukha is not difficult. The period that I go, I can easily drive. The road is in good condition although it's a bit narrow. It has 2 lanes but you can enjoy the scenery view on both side. Looking like this.
The higher the hill, the more beautiful view, you will see. I really like it.
Not too long, I arrive at "Doi Phukha National Park".
If you wanna stay overnight here, you can directly book on its website.
I walk up until reaching to location where Phukha is planted. Unfortunately, the flower has fall already. What should I do now?
Finally I get the answer from a staff that the flower fall down because the weather on the hill is colder. So, flower blooms earlier. If I want to witness the flower, I need to go to Bo Kluea, by following the signs. I accordingly move to the destination. Then I see a sign stating to go further for 3 - 5 km. I get off from the car and grab my camera to have a closer look.
And here they are the only one in the world "Chompoo Phu Kha".
After a long journey of 800 km. from Bangkok, I finally see it. A tree has beautifully attractive baby pink-and-white flower bunches.
Let's get to know about one of the most rare plants in the world.
Chompoo Phu Kha is a standing timber with 10 - 25 m. tall. The trunk is smooth with gray-and-brown color. Pinnately compound leaves 30 - 80 cm. long with cuneate and rounded shape base and acute tip. Gorgeous baby pink-and-white blossoms in bell shape.
The Chompoo Phu Kha, one of the world's rare plants in the past. Back to many years ago, it can only be found at southern China, the northern part of Vietnam, Taiwan and Doi Phukha at Nan in Thailand. It grows on hills in evergreen forest at the height of 1200 - 1500 m. In other countries, it can be found at 1700 m. After that, there was no record about it. Some thought it has disappeared from the wild ...
Until Dr. Tawatchai Santisuk, one of Thailand's distinguished botanists, found the plant growing in the wild in Doi Phu Kha National Park of Nan province in 1989.
Chompoo Phu Kha is therefore one of the world's rare plants. In present, there is only one place in the world to find it which is in Doi Phu Kha National Park and there is still no record of anywhere else.
On that day, there is a teacher from other provinces bringing the kids to see Chompoo Phu Kha. The teacher says she wants the children to personally witness it rather than learning from photos or books. And she doesn't know whether how long it will last for us to see it.
I think she is such a great teacher because she take care of the transportation and fuel cost by herself. Because she want the students to learn the nature for what it really is.
After this is our really last destination, Aumphor Bo Kluea (meaning salt mines in Thai).
This district also hide the best of Thailand as well.
I always fall in love with this place either the ambiance or accommodation. Before taking some rest, let's go to one of the most famous attractions of the district. The 800-year-old salt pits.
When I reach there, a villager is working on hundred-of-year salt mines. It has been believed for hundred years that women are strictly not permitted to do above posture.
History based on my research is;
There are 2 salt mines which are northern and southern one. The northern salt mines have larger scale with more brew houses than southern part. Villagers still use ancient method within well covered house. Inside, there is large clay strove for placing huge pan or hanging small bamboo basket for the salt pits. Villagers at Baan Bo Luang have been producing rock salt for hundreds of years already.
Here is ready-to-sell iodized salt to be similar to sea salt.
If you are going to Amphor Bo Kluea, don't miss to stay at "Boklua View Resort".
The resort is set in the middle of beautiful hills. Due to its location, average weather is approximately 15 - 25 degree whole year.
PS. I have got something to do. I'll be right back to review.
Let's continue ...
"Boklua View Resort" is one of the most beautiful resort in district. The owner is a native of Nan who used to be chef at 5-star hotel in Bangkok. However, something in his mind calls him to go back home and start his own business with trusted partner.
His story might be an inspiration for rural people in capital city to return hometown and try to reach their dreams.
Talking about the room. This is "Boklua 01", behind cottage at the edge of farm. The good things are magical view and private ambiance in the middle of farm steps. Incredibly beautiful.
View from the room looking back to resort.
Inside the room. I don't need to turn on air condition as the weather is cold enough. What's really needed to use is blanket.
The room is fully equipped with significant facilities unless entertaining appliances such as TV or DVD. Honestly I don't think we need that kind of thing in this place.
Now is the restaurant.
The restaurant is gorgeously garnished, suitable for having meal and enjoying scenery view.
The food by ex-chef is certainly punctilious.
The recommended dish, that I order ever time, is "Grilled Chicken with Makwan" (local Thai herb).
"Spicy Paco Fern Salad" is splendid.
And many delicious dishes. Vegetable is also very fresh.
Last morning before saying goodbye.
Last shot of morning view before going back to Bangkok with joyful and delightful heart.
A journey always gives something to traveler.
No matter how long, the impression still imprints ... Everything can be recalled to our memory.
This review is a very long one. Should be a good motive to make you wanna travel.
Nan ... a small province on northern border of Thailand, has more special things than you think.
The livelihood, nature, the one and only flower and fresh air are still waiting for everyone to come by.
I hope this trip would help you to create your own journey to this place.
And you will realize that Nan is way more beautiful than what is in the review.
Thank you all readers to follow my review to the end. See you on next one.
***Chompoo Phu Kha will fully bloom during February to March. If you wish to see it by yourself, you should get prepared now. For those who interested to travel here, you can inquire further details with Tumbon Pua tel. 0 5479 1495 / TAT's Phrae branch tel. 0 5452 1118 / Doi Phukha National Park tel. 0 5470 1000. Thank you all comments. I'm glad that you guys like Nan. Recommend everyone to go and you will be impressed.
Thursday, April 30, 2015 5:52 PM