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A Guide to Nan The Off-the-Beaten-Path Gem You Need to Visit in Thailand

A Guide to Nan: The Off-the-Beaten-Path Gem You Need to Visit in Thailand!

Nothing beats watching the sunrise to reduce stress levels and improve your mood and energy. That’s why whenever my team is in the North of Thailand, I make it a point to visit Nan for some serious me-time. 

Sure, Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai rings a bell as a more popular tourist destination. But when seeking solace, the mountain of Doi Samer Dao in Nan peaks with a perfect serenity and stillness away from the crowds – it’s aptly named “Mountain in the Level of Stars”.

Here, the cool mountain breeze carries the whispers of nature, and as the first rays of sunlight pierce the horizon, a mesmerizing sea of mist unfolds below. It’s a soul-stirring experience that sets the perfect tone for a day of exploration in Nan. 

But Nan offers more than breathtaking sunrises! Join us as we delve into the hidden wonders of this off-the-beaten-path paradise, from cultural experiences to adventure activities—minus the crowds!

Things to Know

Currency: Thai Baht
(Check the current exchange rate)

Language: Kham Mueang (Northern Thai), Thai (Central Thai)

Calling Code: (+66)

Location: Nan, Thailand

Nearest Airport: Nan Nakhon Airport

Best Time to Visit Nan, Thailand

It’s best to visit Nan between November and January. These cold months receive little to no rainfall and let you witness the province’s breathtaking foggy mornings.

That makes it optimal for visiting its most popular attractions and witnessing its scenic views. Plus, you don’t have to worry about sweltering heat during midday, so you can enjoy touring the province from sunrise to sundown.

How to Get to Nan, Thailand from Bangkok

Plane: Nan has an airport, so the best way to reach it from Bangkok is to book a domestic flight from Don Mueang International Airport. This takes approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes, so it’s up to 11 times faster than your other options.

Bus: If you’re okay with a longer travel time, another alternative way to get to Nan from Bangkok is to catch a public bus at the Mochit Bus Terminal. Four bus carriers run a direct route to Nan, so you have plenty of options.

These are the Sombat Tour, Bangkok Busline, Nakhonchai Air, and The Transport Company buses. Sombat Tour is your best option since they have 4 buses departing for Nan daily while the other carriers only have 1 bus each.

Train: Riding a train from Bangkok is the cheapest option but also the slowest since it takes up to 12 hours and it’s not a direct route. Instead, the train from Krungthep Aphiwat Central Terminal can only take you to Den Chai District in Phrae Province.

Afterward, you still must catch a bus from Den Chai Transport Station to Nan, Thailand.

Rental Car: Driving a rental car is a great option for tourists with a driver’s license and an International Driving Permit. Plus, you only need to be ready for the 9-hour drive which starts at Udon Ratthaya Expressway and Highway 9 via Bang Pa In Toll Plaza.

From there, continue northward via Highway 32 and switch to Highway 1 at Luang Pho O Junction. Keep going until you reach Nakhon Sawan where you switch to Highway 117 until you can switch again to Highway 11 at Phitsanulok.

Continue to Den Chai District and turn to Highway 101. Follow this road until you reach Nan.

Where to Stay in Nan, Thailand

Emmaline Hotel Nan

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Address: 148, 1 Nai Wiang, Mueang Nan District

Operating Hours: 2 p.m. (Check-in) & 12 p.m. (Check-out)

Contact Number: +66 61 268 7888


Pricing: ฿฿

This chic hotel in Nan, Thailand is a great option because it ticks three essential boxes: spacious modern rooms, a reasonable price, and an excellent location. We particularly think that its strategic location is Emmaline Hotel Nan’s biggest selling point.

After all, this hotel is within walking distance of the town’s must-see sights. This includes the Nan River, Nan National Museum, Nan Night Food Market, Wat Ming Mueang, and Wat Phrathat Chang Kham Worawihan.

That makes it ideal for tourists who plan to explore Nan’s town center to the fullest.

Baan Nan Hotel

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Address: 32 Nor Kham, Nai Mueang Nan District

Operating Hours: 2 p.m. (Check-in) 

Contact Number: +66 85 717 6589


Pricing: ฿

Baan Nan Hotel is perfect if you’re looking for a place within one of Nan’s more peaceful residential areas. Going here gives you a chance to live close to locals which also gives you access to the small eateries and shops in the neighborhood.

It’s a great way to observe and experience the lifestyle in Nan Town, so we think it’s definitely worth a shot. Aside from that, this hotel is also a solid budget-friendly option that offers spacious polished rooms with small workstations and en suite bathrooms.

They also have private suites that add a sizable living room and a balcony with a charming garden view. These private suites are the best option for vacationing couples and small families.

Nan Garden Resort 

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Address: 371 Moo 6 Tambon Parsing, Mueang Nan District

Operating Hours: 2 p.m. (Check-in) & 12 p.m. (Check-out)

Contact Number: +66 92 283 1668


Pricing: ฿

Nan Garden Resort is a peaceful hideaway along a tree-lined road on the outskirts of the town center. That makes it ideal for tourists who want a private location to enjoy their Nan trip in peace.

This hotel has jungle trails and landscaped gardens, so you have plenty of options for nature exploration. It’s also pet-friendly which is great for tourists who love morning and afternoon walks with their fur babies.

It’s also worth noting that they have only square and round thatched roof bungalows with unpretentious interiors, so you get more privacy than regular adjoining hotel rooms.

They’re solid budget-friendly options that provide all the essentials you’ll need.

Where to Eat in Nan, Thailand

Gin Restaurant

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Address: 898 Chaiyasathan, Mueang Nan District

Operating Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 64 632 9428


Pricing: ฿฿ – ฿฿฿

This charming restaurant in Nan, Thailand is a solid pick if you want full-on variety. They serve a great selection of Western and Thai cuisines, so you’ll most likely find a dish that suits your taste.

Our team’s diehard seafood lovers, in particular, are fans of the soft-shell crab curry from Gin Restaurant’s Thai menu. It comes with a thick, savory, and creamy curry broth packed with an assortment of veggies.

Aside from that, we recommend their premium steak which they make using top-grade imported cuts from Japan and Australia. It also comes with your choice among 10 steak sauces and 7 side dishes.

Hot Bread Restaurant

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Address: 38/1-2, Suriyaphong Road, Tambon Nai Wiang, Mueang Nan District

Operating Hours: 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 89 635 9375

Pricing: ฿฿

Hot Bread Restaurant is one of the best breakfast and brunch spots in Nan, Thailand. It’s a great place to go for Western and Vietnamese breakfast sets, breakfast sandwiches, and coffee.

Their breakfast sets are well-known for using homemade bread, so they’re a big hit among local and foreign customers. We are particularly fond of their Vietnamese breakfast set which comes with a homemade toast and Vietnamese-style coffee.

It’s typically served with fried eggs and Vietnamese pork stew, but they offer a vegetarian option with fried eggs and mushrooms as well. Moreover, this set comes with your choice of coffee, hot tea, juice, or yogurt.

Wanda Curry and Rice

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Address: 100/3 Kha Luang Road, Nai Wiang, Mueang Nan District

Operating Hours: 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 90 323 6355

Pricing: ฿

This local food spot in Nan, Thailand is the place to go for classic Thai curry. It’s popular among locals and tourists because it serves authentic rice and curry dishes at an affordable price.

In fact, Wanda Rice and Curry’s biggest seller is their khao soi. It’s a curry noodle dish with braised meat and a rich, spicy coconut broth that’s a local specialty in Northern Thailand.

For an authentic local experience, we suggest having it with a side of chicken and pork satay.

What to See and Do in Nan, Thailand

Stroll around Wat Phumin

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Address: Phakong Road, Nai Wiang, Mueang Nan District

Operating Hours: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Daily)

Wat Phumin is one of the most popular attractions in Nan, Thailand, so it’s definitely worth checking out if you aren’t planning it already. This 400-year-old Buddhist temple is well-known for the painting of Pu Man Ya Man.

It was created by the local Tai Lue artist Nan Bua Phan which makes it one of the most important artworks in the province. Aside from that, there are numerous wall paintings depicting the Buddhist Jataka, local legends, and the life of the common people.

That’s why this temple has a huge historical, cultural, and religious significance for the people of Nan.

Visit Wat Phrathat Chang Kham Worawihan

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Address: Suriyapong Road, Nai Wiang, Mueang Nan District

Operating Hours: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: ++66 54 710 038


Wat Phrathat Chang Kham Worawihan is also an important Buddhist temple in Nan, Thailand. You can find it at the heart of Nan’s town center, so expect to see plenty of locals dropping by to pay their respects and pray.

Aside from that, this temple is popular among tourists because of its golden stupa and giant golden Buddha statue. But that’s not all because people frequent this place during local and national festivities for its colorful lantern displays.

This gives you plenty of elegant photo opportunities to share with your family, friends, and social media followers.

Nan Night Food Market

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Address: Nai Wiang, Mueang Nan District

Operating Hours: 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. (Friday – Sunday)

For foodies vacationing in Nan, Thailand, there’s no better place to be than the town’s night food market. On Fridays and Weekends, the road next to Wat Phumin becomes a bustling street market packed with local vendors selling food and drinks.

During this time, you can browse and try the great selection of local street food, from BBQ skewers to grilled seafood, fresh fruits, classic Thai dishes, and more. You’ll also find numerous stalls selling clothes, accessories, and various knick-knacks.

That means you’re covered for your food cravings and shopping needs.

Learn the province’s history at the Nan National Museum

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Address: Phakong Road, Nai Wiang, Mueang Nan District

Operating Hours: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Wednesday – Sunday)

Contact Number: +66 54 710 561


Admission Costs: 100 baht

If you’re a history buff, your trip to Nan, Thailand won’t be complete without a tour of the town’s national museum. This place is a treasure trove of displays and infographics of important periods and artifacts from Nan’s rich history.

This includes ancient Buddha images, weapons, tools, and treasures uncovered in various parts of the province. They also have exhibits of textiles produced in Nan and miniature palaces used by feudal lords in the past.

Check out Wat Ming Mueang’s ivory-white temple

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Address: Suriyapong Road, Nai Wiang, Mueang Nan District

Operating Hours: 24/7

Contact Number: +66 93 249 6443


A trip to Nan, Thailand should always include a visit to this picturesque Buddhist temple. Wat Ming Mueang is famous for its ivory-white temple architecture which is packed with intricate designs and Buddha images.

It’s one of the most photographed spots in town, so it’s definitely worth visiting if you enjoy taking photos of gorgeous attractions. Aside from its ornate walls and pillars, the temple has statues of Buddha and Naga, so there’s plenty to see during your visit.

Get a bird’s-eye view of Nan’s town center at Wat Phra That Khao Noi

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Address: 128 Village 11, Du Tai, Mueang Nan District

Operating Hours: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 85 623 3602


If you’re a fan of Buddhist temples and scenic viewpoints, this is the place to visit. Wat Phra That Khao Noi is a 15th-century temple that overlooks Nan’s town center, so it’s perfect for temple visits and sightseeing.

In fact, it’s our favorite place for watching the sunset. Here, you can capture a postcard-worthy photo of the temple’s golden standing Buddha with the town and the golden sky as the backdrop.

Visitors must climb a long staircase to reach the temple, so it’s also perfect for tourists who want to exercise in the morning and catch the sunrise.

Set up camp at Doi Samer Dao

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Address: Tambon Sisaket, Na Noi District

Operating Hours: 24/7

Contact Number: +66 54 731 714

Doi Samer Dao is a well-known campsite for local and foreign tourists who frequent Nan, Thailand. It’s a haven for nature lovers who want to witness stunning scenery surrounded by lush greeneries and hilltops.

The view from the campsite is particularly breathtaking during foggy mornings, the sunrise, and the sunset. Aside from that, it’s a popular stargazing spot among campers and astrology fanatics when the night sky is clear.

That’s why it’s best to spend the night here so you can enjoy the scenery from sunset to sunrise. Tents, cooking equipment, and food are available at the campsite, so you’re covered for everything you’ll ever need.

See the salt mine in Bo Kluea Rock Salt Well 

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Address: Bo Kluea Tai, Bo Kluea District

Operating Hours: 6 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 81 455 6253

One of our favorite places to visit in Nan, Thailand is the Bo Kluea Rock Salt Well. Here, you’ll see the well locals extract for salty brine that’s processed into organic salt.

If you want, you can even observe the brine extraction and boiling process. Otherwise, you can give the well a quick look and browse the salt products and souvenirs they sell to visitors.

Other notable attractions within the village are a salt spa and a small river where tourists can feed fish.

Enjoy a relaxing day at Sapan Village

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Address: Sapan, Dong Phaya, Bo Kluea District

Operating Hours: 24/7

If you want to spend your trip to Nan, Thailand away from bustling tourist destinations, there’s Sapan Village. This quaint village is surrounded by rice fields and lush mountains which is ideal for travelers who want to spend their vacation with nature.

They also have a small waterfall and a few nature trails which we think hikers will enjoy exploring. Also, we recommend staying here at night to witness the village’s beautiful foggy morning.

Most tourists go to Yud Vela Cafe to enjoy the morning view in Sapan, but you can admire it from the numerous campsites around the village as well.

FAQs about Nan, Thailand

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