On our way back from the north we spent a couple of nights in Lampang a middle-sized city north of Tak on the main north-south highway. It is a delightful place 🙂
Lampang is renowned in Thailand as the last city to use horse-drawn carriages for public transport. These are mainly used by tourists, and in the week after New Year (a major holiday opportunity for Thais (as for New Zealanders, and for the same reason, public holidays to boost your entitlement) these were mainly Thais.
The architecture shows influences from Europe and Burma as well as Thai and Lanna (ancient kingdom in Northern Thailand) styles, as the city was a centre for Teak as well as other commercial interests in the 19th Century and was much earlier a major city in the Lanna kingdom.
As well as attractive houses and shops in narrower roads all around the city centre, there are pleasant wide modern streets and a fine clock tower plaza, with a typically Thai little public park with plenty of green and a fine fountain.
We had hoped to stay in the Riverside Guesthouse because Lonely Planet speaks so highly of it, but at such a busy season it was full. So we lashed out on a hotel 🙂
The Pin Hotel is comfortable and extremely spacious with a good breakfast buffet. With a huge bed with a soft mattress, and a bath with hot water we luxuriated. (A particular treat after the 2nd class stopping bus from Chiang Rai to Lampang.) We ate at several tasty Thai and Chinese (this is still Northern Thailand) places including a brilliant and cheap place on the corner down from the hotel.
The weekend “walking market” on the street with the guesthouses, between the Pin and the river was great fun, and even better than the one in Chiang Rai, with just as few foreigners.
Apart from wandering and eating our main sightseeing was a walk through pleasant side streets to the Baan Sao Nak a 19th Century aristocratic teak house built in Lanna style, airy and cool with tall trees and beautiful furniture this house was a delight. It has to join Castle Drogo in Devon (an Edwardian modern medieval castle 🙂 as one of the few ‘big houses’ that I would dearly love to live in!
As well a fine local teak furniture and accessories, beautiful old local china and other antiques, I was excited to see a chair that is almost the twin of the comfortable reading chair I inherited from by Grandmother, but which I get too little occasion to use ;(