In a nutshell
Located 100 km south of Chiang Mai, Lampang is the second largest city in the north of Thailand. It boasts quite a long history dating back to the 7th century when Queen Chammathewi, the first ruler of Lamphun, founded a new town to give her minor son a place to govern after her death.
Why go to Lampang
Attr: sebadella (cc by)
Throughout the centuries Lampang suffered periods of ups and downs first overshadowed by the neighbouring Lamphun and later outshined by the fast rising of Chiang Mai until the end of the 19th century when the city became the main centre of the teak industry with more than 4000 elephants working in this area.
After the decline of the logging industry, Lampang quickly readjusted to the same old secondary role and nowadays it’s a big old sleepy city, with quite a few historical attractions, a charming laid back atmosphere, and good transport connections with the rest of Thailand. Throw in several attractive natural parks and waterfalls scattered around the province and consider calling in for a few days in Lampang on your way to Chiang Mai.
When to go to Lampang
With the only exception of the month of August which is better to be avoided unless you’re a fan of tropical storms, the rest of the rainy season running from May to October is still a good time to visit Lampang, but not the best if you’re planning some trekking in the national parks. From November to February the weather is cooler and whatever you are going to do, you’ll enjoy a more pleasant weather.
A rich calendar of events and festivals makes visiting Lampang interesting all year round. Among the others the Fish Eating Fair in March will give you the chance to sample a good variety of local freshwater fish while the Klong Bu Ja Festival in April focuses on musical traditions (especially drums and string musical instruments) of the Lanna ethnic group. In December the Lampang Ceramic Fair is held celebrating the most widespread industry of the province.
Where to stay in Lampang
Hotels and guesthouses are scattered all around town without any specific area aiming mainly to western tourists. Many options can be found anyway close to the old town, both on the northern and southern banks of the Wang River, making this the first spot to head to when searching for accommodation. There are no backpacker style hostels and guesthouses in general are slightly more expensive than elsewhere in Thailand, but people on a thin budget will still be able to find decent solutions for around THB300. A lot of the hotels fit into a mid-budget range offering quite good value for money. A bit more problematic is to find upscale resorts, especially without your own transportation.
Where to Eat in Lampang
Like the neighbouring province of Lamphun, Lampang is a paradise for food lovers searching for authentic regional food. Compared to the more visited Chiang Mai, the northern cuisine here sticks to the original recipes with no attempts to adjust it to a western taste; as a plus, it usually comes cheaper too. If you are not after fancy restaurants and are happy to sit on a plastic chair, you’ll be rewarded with an incredibly delicious dining experience. Street food options are available everywhere, while Western food choices are limited to some pasta, pizza and burgers in one of the guesthouses’ restaurants.
How to get around Lampang
The signature means of transportation in Lampang is horse-drawn carriages. Once a very popular way to move around in the North of Thailand, it is now preserved almost exclusively only in Lampang which by some reason refuses to switch to the tuk-tuk system. Some might be mislead into thinking it is a purely touristy affair, but in fact it is just the sign that the city still tries to ‘’live in the past’’ when the star of Lampang teak power shined high and bright. A short 15-minute ride will cost you around THB200.
Motorbike taxies (anywhere from THB30 to THB100 depending on the distance) and public songthaews (THB20) plying the fixed routes are the only other transportation options. Songthaews can be also hired for private tours around the province; the cost will mainly depend on your bargaining skills.
Motorbikes (THB200 a day) and bicycles (THB100 a day) are available for rent at many shops and hotels.
How to get to and from Lampang
Lampang Airport, located not far from the city centre, accepts scheduled daily flights from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport by Nok Air and from Suvarnabhumi by Bangkok Airways. Internet rates when booked in advance can be as low as THB1200.
Frequent buses depart from Bangkok Morchit Bus Terminal all day long making your 9 hours trip to Lampang possible at any time of the day. The overnight VIP buses will cost you roughly THB500 while an express morning bus can be as cheap as THB350. Try to avoid the afternoon departures that will drop you in town in the middle of the night.
At least one bus every hour connects Lampang to Chiang Mai; the trip takes less than 2 hours and tickets are THB50 for a second class seat and THB100 for a first class one. Almost every bus heading to and from Chiang Mai will make a stop in Lampang making it possible to reach several destinations in Thailand (especially in the northeast and east of the country) directly from here; check at the bus station for the updated schedules and prices.
The bus station is quite close to the city centre and some of the public songthaews routes terminate and originate from the bus station (THB20).
Lampang is also a major stop on the northern railway line running from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Five trains a day depart from Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station and make their 10-hours trip to Lampang with tickets starting from just over THB100 for a third class seat and going up to THB1500 for a first class sleeper.
A 2,5-hour train journey to Chiang Mai will cost you THB30 only. Note that all the trains travelling between Bangkok and Lampang stop in Ayutthaya, Phitsanulouk, Lamphun and several other towns.
Is Lampang a safe place to visit?
If renting a motorbike or a bicycle, be always extra careful riding in and out of town; always wear a helmet and do not expect extra attention from the car drivers. For any emergency a good hospital is located close to the city centre.
Lampang station guide
Lampang - Bus
The historic northern Thailand city of Lampang is located 600kms from Bangkok and an hour and half’s bus journey from the former Lanna capital of Chiang Mai. It’s well-served by regular air-conditioned buses from Bangkok’s MoChit 2 Terminal, with the trip taking around nine hours and overnight buses the most popular. Costs vary depending on the type of bus and average around 800 baht; reserving your ticket in advance online ensures a seat even in the high season.
Lampang’s bus station is a typical smaller city terminal, offering snack stalls, adequate seating, covered areas, ticket offices and onward transportation by songthaew or private minibus to various areas of the town and its surroundings. There are no tuk-tuks in the city, but visitors will love the traditional form of transport for which Lampang is famous – horse-drawn carriages.
Other means of getting to the city include a daily flight from Bangkok to Lampang’s airport or a 12-hour train trip from the capital’s Hua Lumphong rail station. Lampang’s must-see attraction is the Thailand Elephant Conservation Centre just outside the city on the Chiang Mai fast road. but the city also boasts a good number of historic attractions dating back almost 1000 years and including Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao with its Emerald Buddha.
Lampang - train
Lampang is a city with about 120,000 inhabitants ( including the suburban area ) .The province of Lampang is located in the northern region of Thailand, about 80 km south of Chiang Mai and 600 kilometers north of Bangkok. The city is surrounded by forests and a scenic mountain landscapes. It is also common to see horse-drawn rickshaws used as carriers and human transportation.
Lampang has a relatively dry climate and move to the last monsoon showers in October , cold air masses from Siberia in the period up to mid-February night temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius. Winter is usually very dry, sunny, clear and quite pleasant during the day and cool at night. Summer usually starts from March until June, with temperatures up to 40 degrees centigrade. During the rainy season, there are afternoon showers often. Rainy season in the north of Thailand is like a nicer summer in Germany .
The mass tourism, which is characterized by Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai is unknown in Lampang, tourists usually come only for a short stopover .
Attractions : Wat Phrathat Lampang Luang , Wat Phra Kaeo Don Tao , Wat Sri Bunrueang, Wat Pa Fang and Wat Phra That Chedi Sao which literally means “the temple of Twenty Chedis” .
The train station in Phichai was built 1906-1912 by German architect Karl Dohring. Also, the Thai Elephant Conservation Center Lampang is located north of Lampang.
The Riverside restaurants in Lampang especially those that serve tuna pizza.
Chae Hom - Bus
In the province of Lampang, approximately 125kms from Chiang Mai and 60kms from Lampang town, Chae Hom is a town surrounded by small farming villages whose villagers come to town with their goods each day to attend the large markets held morning, afternoon and evening.
Transport services from Bangkok are generally via either Chiang Mai or Lampang; both are linked to the capital by train from Hua Lumphong, or bus service from Mochit terminal. As in most Thai provinces, local transport links smaller settlements to larger ones.
As the city of Chae Hom grows, so do its Western-style stores. Banks, ATMs, a main post office, medical clinics and of course 7-11 stores are on hand not too far from the bus station. Songthaews are available near the station for getting around town or to places of interest outside it.
There are not many tourist attractions in Chae Hom, but the area does boast some beautiful mountain views of the Phi Pan Nam Range that can be seen from road 1252. Although it is growing, the city still has a quiet, small town feel to it, and there is not much to do.
Thoen - Bus
The largely rural district of Thoen is located 90kms south of Lampang, the provincial capital, and 185kms south of Chiang Mai. Several buses stop in Thoen as the community sits on the main route between Bangkok's Mochit station and Chiang Mai. Part of the Mae Wa National Park is situated in Thoen.
The Phi Pan Nam Mountains tower over the 12-level Mae Wa waterfall as well as the caves of Tham Nampha Pha Ngam and Tham Phra Chedi in Mae Wa National Park. The modest Nakornthoen Hotel is Thoen's major place to stay, but the community of Lampang contains many more budget options near its bus station like the wooden colonial Baan Sabaidee and the more upscale Tipchang Lampang Hotel.
Ngao - Bus
The town of Ngao is situated close to Mae Yom and Tham Pha Thai national parks. The Phi Pan Nam Mountains provide a majestic backdrop to the town and surrounding district. Ngao is on the main motorway between Bangkok and the far north of Thailand. It is 660kms from Bangkok.
Buses are the best option for getting here. Numerous buses for Phayao, Chiang Rai and Mae Sai leave Bangkok’s Mochit terminal every day. They stop in Ngao to pick up and drop off passengers. Travel time is about nine hours. An alternative option is to take a bus or train from Hua Lumphong station to Lampang and then switch to a local bus for Phayao, getting off at Ngao en route.
Hang Chat - Bus
The district of Hang Chat is situated in the western portion of northern Thailand's Lampang province. Green regional buses travel from Chiang Mai, more than 70kms to the north, and Hang Chat's only bus stop, which is located near a petrol station. Motorcycles and cars, however, are easier ways to travel to this sparsely populated district.
Hang Chat is home to the National Elephant Institute, established to protect Thailand's elephants, and the Thung Kwian Market. This early morning market's stalls sell sticky rice, curry, grilled chicken, jungle flowers, and medicinal herbs. Baan Suan Tung Kwain and Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort and Spa are Hang Chat's two main hotels.
Mae Phrik - Bus
Mae Phrik is a small town on the main highway north from Bangkok to Lampang. It is 500kms north on Highway 1 and 110kms short of Lampang. Although Mae Phrik has most facilities for travellers, its main attraction is the proximity of the Mae Wa and Maew Ping national parks and Bhumipol Dam.
Buses running between Bangkok’s Mochit terminal and Lampang or Chiang Mai stop to drop off and pick up passengers in Mae Phrik. The average travel time from Bangkok is 7 hours 30 minutes. Although there are daytime buses, most run at night and it pays to take arrival times in Mae Phrik into consideration when booking tickets online.
Sop Prap - Bus
Sop Prap is a district of just under 30,000 people located in the northern Thai province of Lampang. The district lies on Route 1, which is the main road running from Bangkok to the north. Air-conditioned, VIP buses from the capital’s northern Mochit bus station to Lampang operate regularly and take around six hours to reach Sop Prap.
Regional, second-class buses from the Lampang, around 60kms to the northeast, also run frequently throughout the day. Not many tourists make it to Sop Prap but for those who do, Wiang Kosai National Park, which features two picturesque waterfalls, hot springs and hiking, is worth visiting.