Famous for its horse-drawn carriages and with a rooster as its provincial emblem, Lampang boasts a long history of human settlements on the Wang River basin, some of which dating back to more than 1,000 years. It is rich in archaeological evidence reflecting ancient civilisations of Hariphunchai, Lanna and Burma.

:: Attractions

One of the most important temples in Northern Thailand, the attractive, Lanna-style Wat Phra That Lampang Luang , is renowned for its impressive 16th century murals, graceful architecture, and richly colored interiors. Inside the compound are highly revered Buddha images, including Phra Kaew Don Tao, allegedly carved from the same jadeite block as the Emerald Buddha. The main buildings were constructed in the late 15th century on the site of an 8th century fortress. The complex was built on a mound, and fortified by 3 parallel earthen ramparts, separated by moats for protection against attacks.

Another interesting temple is Wat Phra Kaeo Don Tao , believed to have been built during the same time as the town was founded. The only surviving original building is the 50-m chedi. The temple briefly housed the Emerald Buddha, and another similar jasper Buddha image during 1436-1468. Today, the former is in Bangkok and the latter is housed at Wat Phra That Lampang Luang. The compound also houses the Lanna Museum with religious Lanna artifacts on display.

Built in 1896, the Lanna-style Ban Sao Nak (Many Pillar House) got its name from the 116 square teak pillars supporting the building. Now a museum, it is lavishly decorated with Burmese and Thai antique crafts consisting of lacquerware, silverware, and ceramics. An architectural dream, this, and other nearby city attractions, can be toured by horse drawn carriage for a novel experience.

The late 18th century distinctive Lanna temple and copper chedi of Wat Pongsanuk Tai, provides a nice contrast to the 19th century Burmese-style Wat Si Chum. The latter was constructed mostly from beautifully carved teak, and the interior of the main chapel, decorated in exquisite lacquerwork, depicts life during the 19th century.

The city's riverside Chinatown on Talad Gao (Old Market) Road, was once the site of bustling commerce, when travel relied solely on the Wang River until the arrival of the railway system in 1915. Nowadays, the narrow streets are clustered with pretty wooden houses and shops that have been there for more than one century. The area was once home to businesses and residences of affluent families. These old homes are valued for their unusual mix of Thai, Chinese, Burmese and British architectural styles.

Established to help preserve the nation's majestic creatures, the Thai Elephant Conservation Center is regarded as one of the best elephant training camps in this region, but is less tourists-oriented than other places. About 12 animals, aged 3-5 years, arrive each year to learn a variety of tasks in the nearby forest during the 5-year training period. The center stages regular performances, and provides a chance for tourists to feed the animals. It also houses a small museum.

On the opposite side of the highway, the Thung Kwian Forest Market sells a variety of wild plants and medicinal and culinary herbs. Lizards, beetles, snakes and other endangered species are also sold here, though the government is trying to curb these sales.

Doi Khun Tan National Park consists of a densely forested mountain range that separates Lampang from Lamphun and has 4 main peaks. The nation's longest railway tunnel, measuring 1,352 m., was cut through these mountains to connect Lampang with other cities.

The Chao Por Pradupa Shrine is dedicated to Phraya Chor Meu Lek (Iron Fist Aristocrat), a prominent military leader of the former King of Lampang. While engaged in battle with Burmese invaders at the city gates, he was outnumbered and stabbed to death. He died standing braced against the wall with both his swords still in his hands. So intimidating was the stance that it frightened the Burmese soldiers into retreat, saving the city.

Extending over 3 districts of Lampang, the Chae Sorn National Park is a densely forested park featuring a large hot spring pool and an impressive 6-tiered waterfall.