Lampang, things to do are plentiful. The city is like Chiang Mai but smaller. Then, Lampang is also similar to Lamphun but larger. The mountainous Lampang province has a massive historical heritage just like the other two Northern Cities mentioned and was once part of the same Lanna kingdom. The “rooster city” easily deserves a weekend on your itinerary. It is convenient to stop in Lampang if you are northbound from Bangkok, but Lampang can also easily be “done” from Chiang Mai. This charming northern city is just a two-hour drive south of Chiang Mai.
Temples and more
Naturally, you will connect Lampang with temples, but it is also famous for its horse carriages and ceramics, and it has a beautiful walking street just by the Wang River. Some beautiful ancient teak mansions give some character to some of the areas of Lampang. Also worth mentioning is that Lampang was once a significant city for the logging business but is now more of a mining town.
Furthermore, Lampang is also a perfect place to visit with kids. We explored the newly opened dinosaur museum and a nice theme park with great food. As for the food, Aroi One Baht is an institution, a traditional building, inexpensive, crowded and delicious. And why not grab a tasty craft beer at Where do We Go Lampang Taproom.
A brief history of Lampang
Lampang has a track record as a city for at least 1300 years. No less than 11 names figures in various legends.
According to the Phongsawadan Yonok, a chronicle of Northern Thai historical records, a hermit named Suphrom Ruesi built a town for a Prince by Anantayot. He was the son of Queen Jamadevi of the kingdom of Haripunchai(Lamphun).
The town was first named Kelang Nakorn and then changed to Nakorn Lampang.
The Khmers governed Lampang; it was later colonised by Burmese kingdoms and under Chiang Mai. Finally, it was incorporated into the Ayutthaya kingdom, and Lampang was announced as a province in Siam/Thailand in 1892 in the reign of King Rama V. The golden era was the teak rush in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Is Lampang Cursed?
According to one of the many legends, an early king of Lampang incorrectly executed an innocent Buddhist believer, Nan Suchada. She was slandered about and accused of having an affair with a monk. The governor decided to kill her because of this “accusation”.
Before she died, she cursed the governor and his heirs to die. Belief in this legend has resulted in the shared memories of generations. Whenever there is a societal crisis in Lampang Province of Thailand, people believe that it is due to the curse of Mrs Suchada.
What about all the roosters you see in Lampang?
The symbol of Lampang is the white cock. Legend says that Lord Indra was worried that people may not get up early enough to prepare food for Lord Buddha when he travelled to Lampang. So, Indra disguised himself as a rooster to act as a wake-up call!
Where to stay in Lampang
Throughout the years, I have tested some different hotels and guesthouses. There are some friendly guesthouses like the two-star Riverside Guest House just by the river and connected to the weekend walking street.
If you like a natural setting, try the Lampang River Lodge. That is probably the nicest of the hotels I have stayed. It is a bit aged, mosquito prone, but serene and rustic with a nice restaurant.
The last time we tried the three-star Na Ban Mae Resort, slightly European themed, inexpensive and suitable for children. It also had a small but perfectly functional swimming pool.
What not to miss in Lampang and its surroundings
- Wat Phra That Lampang Luang(see below)
- Walking the street on a weekend
- The “floating pagodas outside of Lampang city”. Read more here.
- Fossils and Geology museum. We call it the dinosaur museum, a fun visit with children. See more about it here and make sure that they are open the day you go.
- Lampang National museum
- The Cowboy Village and Pang Luang Garden. Built up as a small Western street. And with a section with different animals for kids to feed. The restaurant was also good. This is a place for events and concerts in Lampang also. At the time of our visit, it suffered from not having any visitors due to Covid, but we still enjoyed it, and you could see the potential. Map here.
- Dinner at a cheap “Aroi One Baht ” restaurant. Any restaurant with a “wife exit sign deserves a visit?”
- Take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.
- The Elephant hospital and conservation centre(20 km outside the town). The place of interest in my mind is primarily the hospital that has its own entrance. The hospital provides free healthcare for elephants and features a nursery with mothers and their babies.
- Ceramic Outlets, try Indra. Or, for a deeper understanding of the rooster bowl and ceramics in Lampang, go to the Danabadee Ceramics Museum.
- The architectural heritage includes the beautiful railway station, the Louis house, Moung Ngwe Zin House, The Fong Lee building and Baan Phraya Suren by Madame Muser.
Have a look at the locations of Lampangs markets on this map
The must-see temple Wat Phra That Lampang Luang
Phra That Lampang Luang is the temple for those who were born in the Year of the Ox, according to the Chinese Zodiac. Construction of the temple both began in the year of the Ox and also was completed in the year of the Ox.
This historical Buddhist temple compound has various intriguing spiritual structures, encompassing one of the most gorgeous wooden Lanna temples in Northern Thailand, the open-sided Viharn Luang. It claims a history back to the late 15th century.
Often regarded as one of the oldest wooden buildings in the nation, the sanctuary calls attention to a triple-tiered rigid roof supported by enormous teak pillars and murals exhibiting tales of the Buddha’s earlier lives smudged on wooden panels around the inner upper perimeter. If there is only one temple you want to see, it should surely be this one.
Take your time here
Close to Wiharn Luang is Wiharn Nam Taem, where a mural of a Bodhi tree was painted using the golden watermark technique on the wall behind the Buddha sculpture.
Another exciting artefact shows the legend of a Lanna hero, Naan Thip Chang, whose evidence of courageous deeds appears at different spots in the temple, including the bullet marks on the temple wall. This is at the site where Naan Thip Chang sneaked in to successfully slay a Burmese Lord, Thao Maha Yot, who had taken over Lampang.
The temple has a torus base and a spherical body in the Lanna style. The outer of the temple is clad with brass plates, and the top of the spiny dome roof is composed of gold
Wat Phra That Lampang Luang is roughly 20km southwest of Lampang in the vicinity of Ko Kha. The Google location you can find here.