Lampang is the third largest city in Northern Thailand, located about 100 km to the southeast of Chiang Mai with good rail, road and air connections. There is a different atmosphere in Lampang compared to many other Thai cities, mainly due to the horse drawn carriages still used as transportation, for this reason it is also known as ‘Muang Rot Ma’ in Thai, which translates as ‘Horse Carriage City’. This quirky method of transport along with the sleepy town atmosphere makes it a popular stop off for tourists, before heading further North to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
Chae Son National Park covers an area of approx. 768 sq km and is a lush mountainous forest with waterfalls, caves and hot springs, set amongst numerous varieties of fauna and flora. There are many bird species and plenty of wildlife to see in the park; wild pig, barking deer, mouse deer, Asian golden cat, flying lemur, monkeys and bears. Check out Chae Sawn Waterfall with its six levels and several pools and the Hot Springs have nine boreholes producing hot water from deep down in the earth, emerging at a temperature above 70ºC.
The majority of the temples in Lampang were built by the Burmese for the logging tycoons of the late 19th century.Wat Sri Bunrueang and Wat Pa Fang has a large, dazzling gold Chedi containing a Holy Relic brought over from Myanmar around 1906. The extensive Sala Kan Parian (preaching hall) is made completely of wood with Burmese-style overlapping roofs. A small Ubosot has Burmese-style woodwork over its roof with beautiful plaster designs over its doors. Generally there are a number of Burmese monks in residence.
Wat Phra That Lampang Luang is a fine example of traditional Lanna architecture located at the site of the ancient Lampang City. Famous for its 19th century murals, the temple is built on a hill surrounded by a wall. The entrance arches, called Pratu Khong, are adorned with fine plaster designs. Also at the site is a golden Chedi in Lanna architectural style containing a Holy Relic and a Vihan with beautiful murals on wooden walls.
One of the most important temples in the city is Wat Phra Kaeo Don Tao on the West Bank of the Wang River. The temple and the city of Lampang itself is said to have been established by the son of Queen Chama Devi in the 7th century. The 50 meter chedi is the only structure that survives from the original temple. In front of the chedi is a Burmese-styled open prayer hall built in 1909.
Wat Phra That Chedi Sao (The Temple of Twenty Chedis) is set in the middle of farms and rice fields, famous for its 20 stupas in the temple courtyard. Statues of mythical gods and creatures are dotted around the chedis, including beasts from both Chinese and Hindu mythology. There are also many other styles of Buddha images; look out for the rare 'emaciated' Buddha.
The Thai Elephants Conservation Centre is situated in the Thung Kwian Forest in Hang Chat district; apparently it’s the only centre in the world that is committed to training elephants for work, mainly with timber. Daily performances with training demonstrations are given and you can feed the elephants or take a ride in the forest. The centre provides health care for the elephants.