Lampang is a province in North Thailand situated in the Wang river plain. A province of mountain ranges, forests, grass lands, farming and several national parks, Lampang is known for products as ceramics, wood carvings and hand made cotton products.
Lampang’s provincial seal shows the Wat Phra That Lampang Luang temple and a white rooster. According to legend the Buddha once visited the area. Indra, one of the Hindu Gods was concerned that the people of Lampang would not wake up in time to prepare food for the Buddha. He therefore took the appearance of a white rooster to wake up the people.
The province’s capital, also named Lampang, is one of the oldest towns in Thailand. The town that was founded in the 7th century is influenced by Mon, Shan, Burmese and Lanna Thai cultures.
History of Lampang
According to ancient chronicles the town of Lampang was founded by a hermit near the end of the 7th century. Lampang was an important town in the Mon Hariphunchai Kingdom. Its first King was one of the sons of Queen Chama Thewi, founder of Hariphunchai. The town was surrounded by moats and defensive city walls and a number of forts, called wiang.
In the 11th century the Khmer from Angkor invaded the area and brought it under the control of their empire. In 1296 King Mengrai, ruler of the Lanna Kingdom conquered Lampang and brought it into Lanna. The Lampang area was under the control of the Burmese for over two centuries until the end of the 18th century when a local man assassinated the Burmese ruler and freed Lampang from occupation. During the late 19th and early 20th century the area was a center of the teak logging industry.
To do & see in Lampang
A town with a long history, Lampang houses a great number of historic monuments from several eras.
Ban Sao Nak
Ban Sao Nak translates to “House of many pillars”. Built in 1895 as a mansion for a wealthy Burmese family, Ban Sao Nak has been turned into a privately owned museum. Ban Sao Nak comprises of a Lanna and Burmese style main building and several smaller structures, standing on 116 large teak pillars. The museum has the feel of a late 19th century private residence with the original Thai and Burmese furniture and antiques still in place. Ban Sao Nak is found on Rat Watthana road in the old part of town North of the Wang river. The museum opens daily from 10 am until 5 pm, admission is 50 Thai Baht per person.
Horse carriage ride
Lampang, also known as “Muang rot ma”, which translates to “horse carriage town” is the last place in Thailand where horse carriages are still in use. The horse carriages or “Rot ma” in Thai are a remnant of the early 20th century, when Burmese laborers came over to work in the teak logging business and brought their own carriages. The carriages with driver can be hired for tours around the town. Tours from 15 minutes to one hour cost between 150 to 300 Baht.
Talat Gao road / walking street
Talat Gao road is found near the banks of the Wang river. During the late 19th century there was a market here with Thai, Burmese, English and Chinese traders who built shop houses in various architectural styles along the river. Now known as walking street, every Saturday and Sunday evening the street is lined with stalls selling handicrafts, souvenirs, local food and snacks.
Temples in and around Lampang
Lampang houses numerous temples in various architectural styles including Lanna, Burmese and Rattanakosin.
The Wat Phra That Lampang Luang is one of Thailand’s most highly revered temples. Its principal chedi enshrines a hair of the Buddha. The fortified temple, built on top of a hill surrounded by high brick walls was founded in the early 13th century. The temple is one of the best examples of Lanna architecture in Thailand.
Lampang town houses a number of Burmese style temples, like the Wat Si Chum, Wat Si Rong Muang and the Wat Pa Fang. During the late 19th and early 20th century Lampang was the center of the Thai teak logging industry. A great number of Burmese people came over as laborers. Wealthy Burmese built a number of Burmese style temples as an act to gain religious merit.
The Wat Si Rong Muang is a teak wooden Burmese style monastery, built early 20th century. Its most attractive structure is the richly decorated viharn or assembly hall with a multi tiered roof.
The Wat Pongsanuk Tai is a temple in Lanna and Burmese styles located on the banks of the Wang river. It was built by wealthy Burmese working in the teak logging business and beautifully restored early 21th century. Highlight is an open sided teak wood viharn with a cruciform floor plan, with in its interior four images of the Buddha sitting back to back.
The Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao is an important temple. It housed Thailand’s most highly revered Buddha image, the Emerald Buddha for a period of 34 years in the 15th century. The temple is a mix of Lanna and Burmese styles.
The Wat Suchadaram is on the same grounds as the Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao. The small early 19th century temple is a mix of Lanna, Lao and Burmese styles.
A few kilometers North of Lampang town is the Wat Chedi Sao Lang, known for its 20 white chedis with golden tops after which the temple is named. Wat Chedi Sao Lang translates to “temple of the 20 chedis”. The viharn or assembly hall enshrines a large golden, highly revered 15th century Buddha image, that was found by a local farmer in his field.
Getting to Lampang
Lampang is located 600 kilometers North of Bangkok and 110 kilometers South East of Chiang Mai.
Bangkok Airways offers several flights daily from Bangkok international airport to Lampang. Flights take 1 hour and 30 minutes, prices start at 2,390 Thai Baht one way.
The Chiang Mai to Lampang train service takes between 2 and 3 hours depending on the type of service. Fares are 23 Baht for 3rd class, 50 Baht for 2nd class. The Lampang train station is located on Talat Rat road in the West part of town.
Air con and non air con busses to Lampang leave from the Chiang Mai Arcade bus station. The trip takes 1½ to 2 hours; prices vary from 50 to 150 Baht.