Lampang a hidden treasure of Thainess

August 5, 2015 by  
Filed under THAINESS

BANGKOK, 5 August 2015: Lampang is billed a city of horse drawn carriages, but if TripAdvisor’s top 20 attractions in this town are anything to go by, the elephant reigns supreme.

Both the elephants and the horses have been around Lampang for decades and when you enter the town for the first time, the gaily-painted carriages and the patient horses waiting for a fare send the right signals.

There is something special about Lampang.

For starters it is just 100 km south of Chiang Mai and one of the last of many stops on the Bangkok-Chiang Mai rail line.

More and more tourists are disembarking at Lampang if they are seeking a more laid-back holiday than big city Chiang Mai can provide.

3.1  There are also daily flights from the Thai capital and more than 10 daily bus departures that cover the 550 km distance to Lampang.

But having said all that, travellers who post on TripAdvisor swear the number one attraction in Lampang is the government-run Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, just outside town.

That is quite an accolade for the government project and a feather in the cap for Lampang province.

Talking of feathers, the Lampang rooster doesn’t fair so well on TripAdvisor.

The iconic statues of a rooster are seen everywhere in town and the larger life version on a prominent roundabout doesn’t win many accolades from international tourists. It is listed as 13th out of 20 attractions.

“You will find the Lampang chicken on noodle bowls and other crockery all over Thailand,” said one TripAdvisor reviewer. “Lampang is famous for its ceramics and the chicken is a symbol of the town and industry. Not really worth going out of your way for unless you’re really into roundabout statues but a lovely big chicken nonetheless.”

Lampang’s horse drawn carriages fail to make the TripAdvisor list, but for what it’s worth a ride takes you down memory lane and no harm done there.

But their days are numbered as reports surface that the city fathers believe the horses should be retired from active service. They are causing traffic jams.

3.2Meanwhile, the popularity of the elephants rises as fast as summer temperatures. Hardly a single tourist would drive through Lampang and not visit the conservation centre.

It is also the home of HM the King’s 10 white elephants, an elephant hospital and even a graveyard for the noble beasts when sickness or age takes it toll.

The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre was founded in 1993 under Royal Patronage. Today it cares for more than 50 Asian elephants in a beautiful forest on the road leading out of Lampang to Chiang Mai.

The centre is far more than just a tourist attraction as it conducts pioneering work in conservation and the welfare of elephants. It is considered the top learning centre in elephant care techniques. A hospital looks after injured, or sick elephants, performing amazingly delicate surgery on these giant, noble beasts.

Students come here from around the world to learn more about the Asian elephant and there are courses to learn some of the skills of the mahout to allow you to interact
with elephants.

The centre tops the TripAdvisor’s list of places to visit in Lampang, based on visitor reviews.

“We have gone to the elephant conservation centre every visit to Thailand for the latest 11 years,” one reviewer pointed out.

Another reviewer said: “I was really glad to be able to go to this government-run sanctuary and bring my group there. Although it may not be as good as Elephant Nature Park, it is much cheaper (B225) than ENP and much better than some of the commercial elephant camps.”

3.3But there is also more to Lampang. If visitors are bypassing the town in their quest to see elephants and then full speed to Chiang Mai they are missing out on one Thailand’s treasures.

While the town’s icons are its horse-drawn carriages and a giant rooster perched on a roundabout podium, Lampang also boasts a long history of human settlement within the Wang River basin, some of which date back more than 1,000 years.

Lampang has links to the kingdoms of Hariphunchai, Lan Na, and Burma, evident in its temples and archaeological findings. Even the rooster statue, is a much older symbol of Lampang, dating back to the city’s former name, Kukutthanakorn, or City of Roosters.

It is also famous for ceramics and one the town’s hidden treasures is the Dhanabadee Ceramic Museum.

A visit offers a change of pace after touring temples and markets. The ceramic museum was listed as the 4th attraction of TripAdvisor’s top 20 in Lampang based on review volume.

One of the reviewers commented: “This museum was recommended by our hotel…What an amazing place it is as we were guided around by a lovely lady explaining the history of the place… We saw each step of the process of turning clay into objects of beauty, including the hand painting of a bowl… We also saw two original dragon kilns that have been idle for about 50 years. A very interesting and two hours flew by fast!”

However, the city’s main attraction is its outstanding temples many of which reflect Lan Na culture. Some of the top temples to visit are:

Wat Prakaew Dontao

Wat Prakaew Dontao is an example of an ancient La Na-style chedi.

Another prominent architectural wonder of this temple is the Burmese Victorian palace, which was built in wood according to Burmese artistry but decorated with Victorian-style carvings and paintings.

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang

This temple is a pristine example of traditional La Na architecture. The temple is situated at the site of the ancient Lampang city about 12 km from Lampang town centre. It is famous for its murals from the 19th century. The city seal features a white rooster above the temple’s gate.

Wat Sri Chum

This temple was built in 1890 during the reign of King Rama V by wealthy a Burmese family of loggers. The temple is located on Thipwan Road, Tambon Suan Dok, Muang district, Lampang.

It is noted for beautiful Burmese art, including a gold pagoda reflecting Mon-Burmese art. The Buddha’s relics that were brought from Myanmar in 1906 are inside.

Wat Sri Chum was declared a historic site by the Fine Art Department in 1981.


One Response to “Lampang a hidden treasure of Thainess”
  1. Windy says:

    Sawadee ka! I’ve visited Lampang, Thailand many times and was disappointed that you did not mentioned the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Hospital. It’s the world’s first elephant hospital and features 2 elephant landmine survivors who walk on the world’s first elephant prostheses, both featured in the award-winning documentary “The Eyes of Thailand”. It is definitely worth visiting and supporting.

    Thank you,