What to Do and See in Lampang, Thailand

Lampang, a hidden gem in northern Thailand, is a fantastic destination for those wanting to get off the beaten path. It is known for its calm, relaxed atmosphere, and is the perfect place to chillout for a few days. Despite being only 1hr 30 minutes’ drive from Chiang Mai (the most visited city in northern Thailand) this peaceful city rarely gets a mention on itineraries of the north. Travel blogs, online forums and backpackers you meet on the road rave about Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai or Pai (which are all well worth a visit) but Lampang is often overlooked.

My boyfriend and I stumbled upon Lampang by chance. We spotted it on the train line between Chiang Mai and Bangkok and we decided to break up our train journey to the capital city. Our original plan was to book a hotel in Lampang for one night and take the train the next day. However, we were quickly captivated by Lampang’s undeniable charm, and ended up staying for 3 nights. In this post, I will suggest what to see and do in Lampang and how to spend a day or two there.

Admire the local architecture

One of the nicest ways to spend your time in Lampang is to walk around its picturesque streets and lanes and admire the traditional wooden architecture. Many of the most photogenic buildings in Lampang are located on Thalart Gao Road, which is lined with elegant teak mansions. Several of these buildings have a historical significance, so keep an eye out for information signs. 

Look out for Ban Sao Nak (“House of Many Pillars”), a beautiful Lanna-style teak wood house built in 1895, which is supported by 116 pillars. This unusual construction attracts architecture students from around the world. You should also check out nearby Louis Leonowens House, the former residence of the son of Anna Leonownes (of The King and I fame)

Buy a chicken bowl souvenir

Lampang’s unusual claim to fame are chicken bowls! In the 1950s, entrepreneurs in Lampang opened a large number of kitchenware factories producing rice bowls with rooster designs, which symbolise hard work and good fortune. As mass production spread, the bowls became the best-selling product in the region and are exported to more than 30 countries.

Visit Dhanabadee Ceramic Museum to learn how these traditional, hand-painted rice bowls are made. We did an interesting tour with an English-speaking guide and could watch the potters making different types of pottery and using massive dragon kilns. The guide explained how the potters have adapted their techniques and styles over the years. There’s an impressive shop selling a range of bowls, cups, plates, and vases. There’s also a cafe and DIY workshop where you can paint your own ceramics and have them baked in a kiln as a unique souvenir.

Opening hours: Daily 8:30am–5pm. Tour price: 100 Thai baht (adults). 

Ride in a horse-drawn carriage

One of the first things you will spot in Lampang are the horse-drawn carriages clattering along the roads. The city’s Thai name Mueang Rot Ma means “Horse Carriage City”. This quirky tradition supposedly originated in the late 19th century. At the time, the teak logging industry was booming in Lampang, and many immigrants crossed the border from formally British-controlled Burma to find work. They brought with them the tradition of travelling in carriage. Centuries later, it remains as a regular form of transportation in Lampang. You can go for a ride yourself; prices range from 200 – 400 Baht for a 30-60 minute journey. 

To learn more about Lampang’s history, including the preserved tradition of horse-drawn carriages, visit Museum Lampang. The museum is informative and well-curated, with Thai and English display boards throughout.

Opening hours: Tuesdays-Sundays 9.00-12.00 / 13.00-17.00. Closed Mondays. Free entry. 

Visit the street markets

After visiting the larger, more populated cities in northern Thailand, Lampang is the perfect laidback destination to recharge your batteries. The city is quiet, calm, and delightfully untouristy. Mid-week evenings are particularly chilled, but weekends kick it up a notch. On Fridays from 4.30-9pm you can visit the Lampang Cultural Street Market. Every Saturday and Sunday evening, Gad Kong Ta Night Market takes place from 6-10pm. The whole street is lined with stalls selling delicious food, silver costume jewellery, trinkets carved from wood and locally made handicrafts.

Enjoy Lampang’s street art scene

While walking around Lampang’s quaint streets, we soon realised that this peaceful city has an excellent art scene. You can find beautiful murals and quirky street art all over the city centre. One of the best places to see Lampang’s quirky street art is on the south side of the Wang River in the city centre along Sri-Kird Rd near Ratchadapisek Bridge. Here you will find a wide range of truly impressive street art by local artists celebrating the city’s culture and traditions. You will most likely spot a few with the famous Lampang chickens. 

Go temple hopping

One of the most relaxing ways to spend a morning in Lampang is visiting its numerous Buddhist temples. Some of the most beautiful temples in Lampang include Wat Chiang Rai, Wat Si Rongmuang, Wat Pong Sanuk Nua, Wat Kaew Don Tao Suchadaram and Baan Sao Nak. These temples will blow you away with their glistening golden details, sparkling gemstones, intricate shrines, white elephant statues, dragon motifs and Pyatthat-style roofs.

If you have a rental car or motorbike, venture to temples outside of the city like Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat, Wat Chedi Sao and Wat Doi Prachan Mae Tha.

Where to eat in Lampang

While not as famous for food as Chiang-Mai, Lampang still has a lot to offer those who enjoy delicious northern Thai cuisine. 

Khao Thom Aroi Baht Deaw Restaurant is one of Lampang’s most popular restaurants (and possibly the one with the longest name!). It’s a large space with plenty of seating across two levels, and offers a wide variety of delicious and affordable dishes. The best value dish on the menu is boiled rice soup, which the restaurant is named after. You can order it for just 1 THB! However, make sure you get the fried whole fish with fried herbs. 

For local dishes like Khanom Jeen Nam Ngiaw, head on over to Aunt Boonsri Khanom Jeen near Ratchadapisek Bridge, or cross over to Khao Soi Islam, a small and casual restaurant specialising in hearty bowls of beef Khao Soi – one of the must-try dishes in Thailand – as well as some tasty chicken satay.  

For coffee, look no further than MAHAMITr Microroaster. This trendy and chilled out café serves professionally roasted coffee with a variety of beans and styles. The staff speak good English and can advise you on your ideal brew. There are also English menus, and two seating areas (one inside with air-conditioning, the other outside by the river). Sit outside if you can; it’s a beautiful environment to relax and enjoy good coffee.  

How to get there

Bus and train tickets are often cheaper if you buy them in-person at the station, however I used 12goAsia as the website is very easy-to-use, you can choose the language of the website and can pay with a variety of credit and debit cards. You receive an e-ticket by email to show the bus driver/ticket inspector. 

From Chiang Mai: The fastest way is by bus. There are regular buses between the two cities (Greenbus and Transport Co are two providers). The journey takes about 1hr 45 minutes and costs around 100 Baht per person. 

Alternatively, you can take a direct train from Chiang Mai to Lampang. There are around 4 trains per day between 08:50 and 18.00. The journey takes about 2.5 hours. Price: 70 to 250 Baht, depending on the train. 

From Bangkok: There are five trains per day from Bangkok to Lampang. Journey length: 8 – 11hrs, depending on the train. Prices: 250 – 1060 Baht for a second-class ticket. 

There are regular buses between Bangkok and Lampang, between 7.30 and 21.50. The journey takes around 8-10 hours. Prices: 530 to 850 Baht per person, depending on the bus time. 

I hope this post has convinced you to add Lampang to your northern Thailand itinerary. If you have any other suggestions for what to do or see there, please leave them in the comments.

Ciao for now

The Curious Sparrow

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