Lamphun Province is located in the northern part of Thailand, in the Ping River valley where it is surrounded by a chain of beautiful mountains. The province is roughly 670 km northwest from Bangkok and 19 km south of Chiang Mai, the largest city in the north of Thailand.
When the province was originally named Haripunchai, it belonged to the Mon kingdom before the Burmese took over during the 16th century. It remained under their rule for two centuries before eventually being freed and ruled by Siam by the late 19th century. Now, it is well-known for its countryside farms, rice fields, and the Longan Festival held every August.
When visiting Lamphun Province, be sure to stop by these five amazing destinations:
- The Wat Phra That Haripunchai
- The Hariphunchai National Museum
- The Luang Pha Waing Cave
- The Bang Nong Chang Khun and the Lamphun Longan Festival
- The Mae Ping National Park
Lamphun Destination #1: Wat Phra That Hariphunchai
If you’re looking to admire and take pictures of Thai traditional architecture, Wat Phra That Hariphunchai is the place for you to go. Originally built in 897, it is said to have been created to serve the purpose of safely storing a hair of the Buddha. The temple was later remodeled in 1443 when it was enhanced and created in a pyramid shape using the design of a Thai monk. The monastery of the temple holds a 15th-century Lanna Buddha statue and there is a library from the 19th-century nearby. When translated, Wat Phra That Hariphunchai means “Temple of the Sacred Hariphunchai Relic.”
The temple is located at the center of Lamphun town to the west of the Kuang river. Opening hours are from 6 am until 6 pm daily, so you don’t have to make early plans to see the temple. However, be aware that it can be crowded during the weekends, religious holidays, and Thai national holidays.
Lamphun Destination #2: Hariphunchai National Museum
If you want to take a trip down memory lane, the Hariphunchai National Museum is the place for you and your family to go. It is separated into three different areas. The ground floor contains stone inscriptions that belonged to the Mon group while the first floor holds several Buddha statues from temples around the area. Another building contains artifacts that display the culture of the Mon and Lanna people. Although you may not understand most of the Thai writing, there are a few displays that have labels with English translations.
Don’t worry about spending too much time in the museum, as it will take less than an hour to go through all areas. There is a 100 baht entrance fee for foreigners, however, it is free for Thai people. Cameras are allowed inside, but do not use flash as it can damage the displays.
Lamphun Destination #3: Luang Pha Waing Cave
Enjoying nature is something you must do when traveling to Lamphun Province. The Luang Pha Waing Cave is one of the largest caves in Northern Thailand and has beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. There are legends about the cave that claim that it was carved around 500 million years ago and was where robbers kept their stolen goods. It is also said that not only were stolen goods hidden there, but gems that belonged to royalty too. The cave consists of nine chambers, and guardrails are installed to guide you and protect you as you explore the cave.
The ride to the cave from Lamphun is approximately 45 minutes long, but the cave is definitely worth the travel effort. Be sure to dress appropriately and carry a water bottle. Before you enter the cave, you have to go through a 15-minute climb to the hilltop, but don’t worry, the path up is also supported by handrails.
Lamphun Destination #4: The Ban Nong Chang Khun and Lamphun Longan Festival
Ban Nong Chang Khun is a village famous for its large longan plantations, the largest in the province. It is not too far out in the countryside as it is located about eight kilometers from Lamphun town. To get to the village, you will need to follow a road flanked by longan trees that make the perfect start to your visit. It is highly recommended that you visit during the month of August, when the fruits are fresh and ripe and the Lamphun Longan Festival is in full swing. During the festival, be sure not miss the exciting contests, including the longan-decorated cars contest and Miss Longan pageant.
The village’s opening hours are between 8 am and 4:30 pm and there is no admission fee. Make sure your camera batteries are full as you will definitely want to take some photos and selfies with the fruits and the festival atmosphere.
Lamphun Destination #5: Mae Ping National Park
When you’re in Lamphun, don’t limit your travels to the immediate surrounding areas only. Take your family and travel buddies for a visit to the Mae Ping National Park. The park is located at the bottom of the Thanon Thong Chai Range that averages about 900 meters above sea level with fertile forests that are rich with different species of plants and animals, such as deer, monkeys, and fish. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the local wildlife! Paths for hiking are also marked, and they easily lead you to mapped caves, waterfalls, and viewpoints where you can take in the panoramic view of the area.
If you wish to stay overnight, there are camping grounds and a bungalow at Thung Kik in the national park at no more than 350 Baht per night. They’ve got bathroom facilities but you will need to bring your own food and water. Opening hours are from 6 am to 6 pm daily, with an admission fee for foreigners of 100 baht for adults and 50 baht for children.
Wrapping it all up!
Lamphun Province is not a destination you hear a lot on travel shows or read about on blogs and magazines, but it’s definitely worth a visit. The province has a lot to offer and visiting temples, museums, caves, and national parks would definitely be the highlight of your trip. Of course, the longan celebrations are an added bonus if you travel during the festival time.
From Bangkok, you can easily catch a budget plane to Chiang Mai and then a 45-minute taxi ride from the airport to the province center. This will spare you the long hours of driving straight from Bangkok. You can also take the Train 13 from Hua Lamphong Train Station in Bangkok to Chiang Mai Railway Station, then take another train to Lamphun Railway Station, but be prepared for a 12-hour ride. If you insist on travelling by train, you could fly up north, then take the train from Chiang Mai to Lamphun instead.