Bo Klua | A Salty reason to go to Nan

In the summer of 2017, we destined our yearly Northern Roadtrip to Nan and one of our sightseeing spots was the beautiful valley of Nan, also famous for its salt mines in Bo Klua. We drove from Phayao to Nan on another one of Thailands most impressive routes, Road No. 1091. The almost 3-hour long ride sometimes gave you a sense of driving along the boundary of the sky, spiralling hills, soaring and plunging with multiple curves and turns featuring some amazing views.

Views of the scenic road in Nan
Driving along the horizon

For the first days of the tour, we did our usual visits to the old part of Nan town and its outskirts, enjoying murals in Wat Phumin but also Wat Nong Bua. For the kids, we also made sure to visit some of the province’s waterfalls.

After a scenic drive of 110 kilometres North-East of our resort in Nan, we ended up in Bo Klua View Resort and enjoyed a terrific meal. Nestled in the foothills of Doi Phu Kha at around 700 metres above sea level, Bo Klua View was designed to combine with nature and offers a simple, bucolic lifestyle experience. This is an excellent midway point when driving the Phuka loop from Nan.

The Salt Wells in Bo Klua

The word “salary” was derived from the word “salt.” Salt was highly valued and its production was legally restricted in ancient times, so it was historically used as a method of trade and currency. The word “salad” also originated from “salt,” and began with the early Romans salting their leafy greens and vegetables.

The History of Salt

We also went to learn about salt mining and bought a little of the well-known salt from the region. Nan is a large salt source and has majorly been trading salt in the northern area of Thailand and with Jinhaw merchant caravans from Yunnan, and other provinces of China via the Xipsongpanna region. The word Bo Klua is simply translated as a salt well.

Bo Klua salt is remarkably salty. Pails of water are pulled up from the wells, then transferred to giant wok pans, where the water is boiled until it is evaporated. After being boiled it leaves mounds of pure salt crystals.

The quantity of salt obtained per litre is abundant. The salt looks so clean and pure. The white crystals are then transported to wooden jars to complete the drying procedure. In the rainy season, not much was going on so we got the story from one of the locals whose family have been in the salt business for generations.

Well for salt in Bo Klua
Salt pits in Nan

The evaporation process takes around four to five hours and is carried on 24 hours per day. The two wells produce around 60 – 70 kilos of salt each per day. Bags of salt(2kg apiece) are sold. Iodine is added afterwards.

The time it takes from production to sales depends on if any customer is passing by or not. It usually takes anything from one day to two weeks.

Salt pit well in Bo Klua
Another photo of the wells

Where to stay in the area

Currently, there are more places to stay in the Bo Klua area than when we were there. We didn’t overnight though since we stayed in Nan at the Nan Seasons Boutique Hotel.

  • The resort where we had our great meal was in Bo Klua View. Stunning views and high room standards.
  • A place that looks interesting and that I would like to check up on a later visit in the area is Saimoklove Glamping. Morning fog is promised. Have a look here.
  • Bo Klua Home is more simple with some chalets in a nice garden setting.

Read more about the amazing Wat Phumin and its murals here.

When this is written it is still a period of lockdowns during the Covid pandemic. Make sure to check that your trip is doable and check with all intended destinations, hotels and restaurants that are open. Call them, don’t rely on Google only.

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