We had definitely caught the bug for Thailand again and were keen to see more of the parts of the country that neither of us had been to. We decided to go off the beaten track a little more and visit Nan in northern Thailand as a stop off before crossing the border into Laos.
Nan exceeded both of our expectations with numerous temples, amazing food and even an arts festival, with barely a western tourist in sight. We had had an amazing time on the Thai islands but this was certainly a contrast!
Nan is a small city which is rich in Lanna cultural history, popular with Thai tourists, and most famous for Wat Phumin with it’s spectacular murals.
The murals inside are distinctive and are said to show the culture and everyday life of the Thai Lue people.
The most famous mural is below – you can see this image in and around most buildings in Nan!
We visited the small Nan Museum – along with a local secondary school group…
Nan used to be a walled city and some remnants of this wall remain around the city.
Nan is also home to many many other impressive Wats, intriguing in both their exteriors and interiors.
We didn’t realise until we arrived but our visit coincided with nan Arts Festival – lucky us!
This involved a large and bustling local market with food and local handicrafts from hill-tribe groups.
Locals musicians – both modern and traditional, played throughout the afternoon and evening.
In the main square outside Wat Phumin large mats were placed on the ground, in front of the live music stage, where you could come and sit with your street food delicacies to enjoy the music, sunset and ambience of the festival.
As we walked on, the art influence for the festival became more and more apparent with many sculptures, live paintings and performance artists jostling for space in the streets (which had been pedestrianised for the event).
The final picture below is a abstract sculpture which is the emblem for the festival and is designed to simulate the most famous mural in Wat Phumin (a man whispering into a women’s ear) as shown above in this post.
Some young monks watching all the excitement from from the safety of a nearby wat.
In the grounds of Nan museum there was a large stage and locals sat around on hay bales watching the music, dancing and live painting on stage.
What a lovely trip to Nan!
Even our hotel was unusual – everything was pink and both the room and the hotel lobby was adorned with large pink animals…interesting!
We had lovely our stay in Nan, the laid back and local feel reminded us in some ways of our stay in Kep in Cambodia – also a little off the beaten track for most tourists.
Little did we know the adventures that were in store for us the following day when we woke early to begin our trip to cross the border into Laos…