Nan is one of the northern provinces of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are Uttaradit, Phrae, and Phayao. To the north and east it borders Sainyabuli of Laos. The province is in the remote Nan River valley, surrounded by forested mountains, the Phlueng Range in the western part and the Luang Prabang Range in the east.The highest mountain is the 2,079 meter high Phu Khe in Bo Kluea District, northeast of the city of Nan towards the border with Laos.
For centuries Nan was an independent kingdom but, due to its remoteness, had few connections to the other kingdoms. The first kingdom around the city Mueang Pua (also known as Varanagara) was created in the late-13th century. Its rulers, the Phukha dynasty, were related to the founders of Vientiane, however it became associated with the Sukhothai Kingdom as it was easier to reach from the south than from the east or west. In the 14th century the capital was moved to its present location at Nan.
In the 15th century, when Sukhothai declined in power, it became vassal of the kingdom of Lannathai. In 1443 King Kaen Thao of Nan plotted to capture neighboring Phayao by asking King Tilokaraj to help him fight against Vietnamese troops attacking Nan, even though there was no such threat. Kaen Thao killed the king of Phayao, however the troops of Tilokaraj then attacked Nan itself, and captured it in 1449.
When Lannathai was under Burmese rule, Nan tried to liberate itself many times without success, which finally led to Burmese rule of Nan in 1714. In 1788 the Burmese rulers were finally driven out. Nan had to then accept new rulers from Siam. In 1893 after the Paknam crisis Siam had to give a big part of eastern Nan to French Indochina. In 1899 mueang Nan became part of the circle (Monthon) Tawan Tok Chiang Nuea (northwestern circle). In 1916 the northwestern circle was split and Nan was assigned to the circle Maharat. When the circles were abolished in 1932, the provinces including Nan became top-level subdivisions of Siam.
Before the early-1980s, bandits as well as People’s Liberation Army of Thailand (PLAT) guerrillas were a big problem in the province, usually destroying highway construction overnight. With the help of the army and the more stable political system the province improved significantly, but is still a very rural and remote area.
Sao Din Na Noi or Hom Chom and Khok Suea
Location : Amphoe Na Noi
Sao Din Na Noi or Hom Chom and Khok SueaSao Din Na Noi or Hom Chom and Khok Suea is located in Chiang Khong sub-district, 60 kilometres from Mueang Nan. From Na Noi district, there is a crossroad. Go along Highway No. 1083 for approximately 6 kilometres. It is a soil formation into strange shapes, similar to the “Phae Mueang Phi” of Phrae Province. From geological evidence, it appears that Sao Din Na Noi occurred from the movement of the earth’s crust during the late Tertiary Period and the natural erosion of water and wind. Geologists assume that it might be aged during 10,000 – 30,000 years and was once the bottom of the sea. There have been discoveries of stone bangles and ancient axes at this place, which are currently preserved at the Nan National Museum. It reflects that this area was once a habitation place of human beings in the Palaeolithic Age.
Wat Phumin (Phumin Temple)
Location : Amphoe Mueang
A uniquely designed and the most interesting temple in Nan is Wat Phumin, which has a 4-portico, single building housing both the Ubosot and Vihan. Four Buddha statues with their backs against one another are installed in the main hall facing the four directions. The doors are delicately carved in splendid designs by Lanna craftsmen.
Wat Phumin underwent a major restoration in 1867 since it was built some 27 years ago. It is believed that the wall murals were commissioned during this time. The wall paintings, in Thai Lu style are considered highly valuable and depict legends concerning the Lord Buddha as well as local legends and the local way of life, which include native attires, weaving and commerce with foreign countries.
Wat Phra That Chae Haeng (Phra That Chae Haeng Temple)
Location : Amphoe Phu Phiang Wat Phra That Chae HaengWat Phrathat Chae Haeng is a sacred place of worship, situated on a mound on the eastern side of the Nan River, at the former centre of the Nan town after moving from Pua town. Wat Phra Borommathat Chae Haeng was constructed during the rule of Chao Phraya Kanmueang (the Feudal Lord of Nan during 1326 – 1359) as an enshrining venue of 7 Buddha relics, silver and golden votive tablets presented by King Maha Thammaracha Lithai on the occasion that Chao Phraya Kanmueang assisted in the construction of Wat Luang Aphai (Wat Pa Mamuang in Sukhothai Province at present) in 1354.