|The scenic reward for the long and winding drive to the top of Doi Phu Khua National Park.|
Renowned for its stunning scenery, mountainous areas, cool December climes, and slow, low-fi pace of life, Nan is touted as a rising star vacation destination (though the long, winding and hilly drive to Nan remains a barrier for the masses). However, the perseverance and effort delivers a huge payoff - in fact, we screwed up by not allowing enough time to enjoy the region's abundant attractions. Hopefully there will be rafting, hiking, dining, and camping trips to be enjoyed in the future.
|A "whispering themed" painting - one of many to be found in Nan, Phrae and Pua.|
Though our visit was brief we fell in love with the region's natural beauty. And without getting deep and meaningful, the trip offered a glimpse and reminder (for us city dwellers) of Thailand's scale, diversity and cultural, social and economic differences. While it's best enjoyed over a week or longer, here are some of the things we enjoyed..
Doi Phu Khua National Park - the park's 2,000 metre peaks were the anticipated star attraction of our trip and they didn't disappoint. The panoramic views from the top, atmospheric morning mist, chilly 10 degree temps, massive forest areas, and clean air was a wonderful combination. Equally enjoyable was the slow, winding road trip up through the forest - a must drive/ride for motorbike enthusiasts and sports car drivers.
Pua's Walking Street - you'd think a town that celebrates beetles would have little going for it. But Pua is recommended as a layover destination for two great reasons - it's close proximity to Doi Phu Khua and the town's night market (the only market in the world to be bookended by breakdancing teens at one end, and senior citizens showcasing their best mor lam dance moves at the other). In between is some of the best street food that I've ever seen and eaten in Thailand.
|BBQ Phrae style - go big or go home..|
Phae Mueang Phi - billed as a mini Grand Canyon, the amazing mushroom shaped rock formations (formed by subsidence and erosion) in the Phae Mueang Phi national park are a must see.
|About 18 kms from Phrae, the Phae Mueang Phi - the rock formations at the national park were my trip highlight.|
Nan Riverside Art Gallery - You'd be hard pressed to find an art gallery/art space with a better setting. As the name suggests, the spacious, bright, and airy gallery sits beside the river and if the art pieces (a good mix of modern and traditional Thai works) are not your bag of thrills, take a seat outside, order a coffee, ice cream or soft drink, to enjoy the view and detox your polluted city lungs. Other attractive and interesting spots include:
- Phrae's iconic Bomb noodle and coffee shop as well as its Bavarian designed train station
- The many well-maintained old Thai homes in Nan City
- The fabled and mystical dik deam tree in Pua's main temple
- The very cool Phrae Farmstay Hotel that offers tremendous value for money