If you are planning to go to Chiang Mai, you will sure pass by Lampang Province. Thanks to restaurants, river side bars, Buddhist Temples and Horse-drawn carriages. This province is also home of more than 50 elephants including babies under Thailand Elephant Conservation Centre. Elephant Rides is also popular among foreigner travellers that decided to stop by at this so called “One of the Hidden Gems of Thailand”.

Most travelers to northern Thailand pass by the sleepy province of Lampang in their rush to get to
glamour locations like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. That’s a pity, as this rural province has succeeded in keeping its centuries-old traditions and lifestyles while other locations have firmly embraced the 21 s1 century. The province also has some of the best-preserved examples of Lanna art remaining , as well as an extensive natural heritage to rival any province in the north. Lampang – northern Thailand’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ – is the ideal place to escape from the stresses of modern life; to reach an altogether more civilized time.

The 15th century Wat Phrathat Lampang Luang is one of the finest examples of a wooden temple anywhere in Thailand. The temple features an alloy Lanna style pagoda (Phrathat Lampang Luang) which enshrines relics of the Buddha, and a large image hall or viharn built in 1476. The hall houses the Buddha image of Phrachao Lanthong as well as ancient frieze paintings depicting the stories of the Lord Buddha and his teachings. The temple and its museum of art objects is worth spending some time exploring to uncover many more interesting facets and features. Wat Phrathat Lampang Luang is located in Tambon Lampang Luang, around 18 km from town.

One of Lampang’s star attractions is the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre – the first of its kind in the world – and Thung Kwian pine forests. Located 24 km out of town on the road to Chiang Mai, the centre was founded in 1969 to raise and train young elephants in logging skills. Since Thailand banned logging, the centre has been used to care for old or sick elephants. The world’s only elephant hospital is also located here. For visitors, the centre runs scheduled elephant shows and elephant rides around the plantations (+66 5424 7871) . Courses on elephant care and home-stay accommodation are also available (www.thailandelephant.org) .

Chae Son National Park, around 75 km from Lampang town and straddling the demarcation between Lampang and Chiang Mai, is a verdant watershed for several rivers and streams and site of the popular six-tier Chae Son Waterfall and hot wells, where you can boil an egg. Several other waterfalls are scattered through the park, including the Mae Mon and Mae Khun cascades, each about 5 km walk from the park office, and the Pha Ngam Caves , many of which can be explored by visitors . The best time to visit Chae Son is from November- February when the weather is pleasantly cool. In January to February the forest is dotted with blooming orchid trees (Bauhinia), which can also be viewed from the Chae Son-Ban Pa Miang road. The park offers housed accommodation and camping for t hose with their own tents as well as a restaurant (+66 5438 0000, +668 9851
3355 , www.dnp.go.th).

Horse and carriage tour
Horse-drawn carriages have plied the streets of Lampang as taxis since days gone by. Today, a trip around town by horse is a must-do part of any visit to the town. You can choose to start your carriage ride from in front of the old city hall, the Thip Chang Lampang Hotel, the Wiang Lakhon Hotel, or the Lampang Wiang Thong Hotel with two basic routes, inner and outer city, taking around 20 and 40 minutes, respectively. An unbeatable and leisurely way to see many of the town’s historic sites and the Wang River. An annual Horse-drawn Carriage and Train Fair is held during March 28-April 2 at Lampang’s grand old railway station .

Getting there
Bangkok Airways (www.bangkokair.com) offers three daily flights to Lampang from Bangkok’s Suvarnhabumi Airport with a flight time of 90 minutes, while Nok Air (www.nokair.com) runs two daily flight s from Don Meuang Airport. For a more laid-back alternative, why not take a leisurely tip by train from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station (www.railway.co.th)?

For more information, contact the TAT, Chiang Mai office on +66 5324 8604, +66 5324 8607 .

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