Nan is not only charming, it is also a great place to experience authentic Thai culture. Check out the Blessing Buddha at Wat Phra That Khao Noi for breathtaking views over Nan and beyond, marvel at the Thai Lu murals at Wat Phumin, the town is the most important landmark, or visit the Nan National Museum. In the evening take a relaxing stroll along the banks of the Nan River or enjoy tasting new flavours at the ‘walking street’ market.
Mae Hong Son
Remote and tranquil, Mae Hong Son, near the Burmese border, is ringed by majestic mountains which offer visitors the chance to experience many different outdoor adventures including excellent trekking through incredible jungle scenery and boat trips on the river.
This non touristy town is laid back and friendly, and a dominant feature is the serene lake in the centre which makes for an idyllic setting for a picnic or drinks, or a workout at the outdoor gym. There are also several Shan style temples, a venerated bamboo bridge, a weekend market with delicious street food, and a smattering of good restaurants and cafes.
Mae Salong is one of those cute little pockets of the world that makes absolutely no sense until you know the history. Walking down the street, you would think you were in Yunnan province, China. The shops are playing Chinese TV. There is Chinese food in all the restaurants, and a big tea-drinking culture, thanks to the plantations nearby.
Mae Salong is a great place to chill, sip some tea and maybe visit a hilltop village or two. It is close to Chiang Rai as well, up in the hills beyond the town, so it is worth a couple of nights if you are in the area.
Sukhothai, which translates to “the dawn of happiness,” is a popular tourist destination for those wanting to explore the ruins of the ancient city of Sukhothai. Sukhothai was the capital of Thailand during the 13th-century C.E, the first capital of Siam founded by King Ramkhamhaeng. The ancient temples and monuments make up the Sukhothai Historical Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While you are in town other places of interest to check out include Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, Ramkhamhaeng National Park, Sri Satchanalai National Park, and The Royal Palace and Wat Mahathat.
Hiding among the other lesser-known places to visit in Northern Thailand, Lampang stays fairly low on the tourism radar. Perhaps Lampang is south of Chiang Mai (90 minutes) rather than north like Pai, Chiang Rai, and Mae Hong Son.
But Lampang is not exactly a sleepy village. It is the third largest town in Northern Thailand. Overnight buses and trains between Bangkok and Chiang Mai often stop in Lampang, it is directly along the way. The best time to visit Lampang is on Saturday or Sunday when the weekend market is thriving. Ceramics from the region are a popular item to purchase. The paper made from elephant dung makes a very unique gift for squeamish friends at home.