Discover Thainess Tour of the North
After our enjoyable visit to Lampang, the intrepid iTravel team departed from the town at 9am on Wednesday 28 January and made the 4-hour drive to Nan, a remote town in the region of northern Thailand which borders Laos. Upon our arrival we checked in to our hotel, the Dheveraj, and then headed out to explore the local sights. Our first stop was Wat Phumin, the town’s most famous temple. Hundreds of years old, this stunning Wat is a prime example of Thai Lue architecture and features stunning motifs and murals as well as a flowered alter depicting four Sukhothai-style Buddhas.
From here we headed on to take in two more temples before dinner, Wat Phra That Khao Noi and Wat Sri Panton. Wat Phra That Khao Noi is situated on a picturesque hilltop 2km out of town, while Wat Sri Panton is located in the town and boasts a stunning gilded Naga on the stairway as well as exquisite carvings on the roofs and vivid murals on the walls. Just before sunset we decided to do as the locals do and headed down to the river for a scenic picnic by the water. Daniel made some new Thai friends during the meal, and then we made our way to the local night market where he enjoyed trying to purchase some items without the ability to speak Thai. Despite the language barrier the Thai vendors were warm, friendly and accommodating, and Daniel had a great time sampling local delicacies and trying on traditional clothing. Later that night he even got to experience traditional Thai dancing as there was a festival being held in town.
On our second day in Nan we drove 2 hours out of town to the Nam Wa River to try river rafting. We had an exhilarating shoot as the countryside was pristine and utterly quiet, away from the hustle and bustle of civilisation, and the air was chill and bracing. After the rafting we savoured a well-deserved lunch in a local restaurant by the river before driving another 2 hours to Pa Klang district, home to 3 different native hill tribes. We visited a Hmong settlement and thoroughly enjoyed meeting the friendly and hospitable tribespeople. Daniel got to try on traditional Hmong clothing and played with the local children at their school – the perfect end to a perfect day.
Our final day in Nan began early as we headed to the local market so that Daniel could learn how to give alms to the monks, a practise he is not used to in the Philippines. Then it was time to bid Nan farewell and begin our journey back to Chiang Mai – but first we made time to stop off at a few more local attractions, such as the Nan Museum. We also managed to squeeze in some more temples; at one of them, some friendly local students fell into conversation with Daniel and they all took a photograph together.
The iTravel team thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Nan, this unspoiled corner of Northern Thailand – but perhaps what our new presenter Daniel Marsh relished most was the opportunity to experience the beauty of Thainess; that warm, friendly, hospitable nature which makes Thai people so special and breaks down seemingly challenging barriers, such as the lack of a common language. With their kindness and good humour, and that famous Thai smile, the people of the Land of Smiles have a unique way of making visitors to their country feel welcomed so they can enjoy a truly unforgettable experience during their stay.