Discover the uniqueness of Nan, Thailand
In preparation for Thailand’s opening for vaccinated visitors in the (hopefully!) very near future, we recently traveled to Nan Province to discover new tour options. Nan is located in the remote mountains of Northern Thailand, with a close border crossing over to Laos, enabling travelers to continue to the majestic and ancient city Luang Prabang via Pakbeng.
The northern province of Nan is still off the radar for many visitors to Thailand, which is a shame as this province has a lot to offer, which local Thai visitors have been discovering for quite some time!
The most convenient way of getting to Nan from Bangkok is by plane; there are several daily flights by Thai Smile Air, Nok Air, and Air Asia. Comfortable buses from both Chiang Mai and Bangkok are available.
We recommend that visitors spend at least a day and a night in Nan town to check out the temples, wander around the city, sample local food, and enjoy the vibrant night market.
Departing Nan, we head North towards the Lao border; the road takes us along mountain ridges with incredible view points out across the lush green mountains. We stop at Bo Kluea (which translates as ‘salt well’); this small village is well known for its salt production! For hundreds of years, saltwater has been collected from local wells either by bucket or pump. The water evaporates through the boiling process; the water evaporates, the salt is extracted and sold on the spot to the locals. The process is seasonal, but you can visit the wells at any time of the year.
Due to its popularity with Thai travelers, the village nowadays boasts more than a few coffee shops! Thai coffee has become well known for its quality, but most visitors will be surprised to learn that a few Thai farmers have also started planting cocoa plants very successfully in Nan province with tasty results! You can sample delicious local chocolate delicacies enjoyed with a sweet iced chocolate drink at one of our stops.
The further North, we venture several other picturesque villages popular with Thai travelers, such as Sapan, a confluence of two valleys.
We stay overnight near a Royal Project, which we visit in the back of a sturdy 4WD truck. The views are fantastic and worth it! There is a short, scenic trail along the valley that is great for taking a hike or mountain biking.
Up here, you are away from it all, no 7-11s, McDonald’s, or Starbucks; this is escape travel at its very best! School children often stop to greet all visitors with a smile and gracious wai. (Thai greeting) A few mom-and-pop local stores and lots and lots of nature, mountains, and clear night skies!
We found excellent lodgings being constructed along a clear water stream for overnight stays on our discovery tour, just off the road—comfortable safari-style tents, ensuite bathrooms, and balconies overlooking the creek the mountains beyond.
Even though our visit was in the hottest time of the year, after the sunsets, it’s time to put on a sweater and socks to brace against the cool mountain air!
After your stay here, you could return to Nan or continue your journey through Northern Thailand and end the day in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai. But we would recommend heading another 50km north to the Huai Kon – Mueng Ngeum border crossing and continue your trip in Laos to Pakbeng and Luang Prabang!
From Nan, you can also fly back to Bangkok and continue straight to one of the islands or take a bus to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, or Phrae.
The uniqueness Nan is excellent for those interested in soft adventure, nature lovers, and second-time visitors!