Lampang / Thailand



Lampang | Nakhon Lampang

Lampang is a bigger city in the north of Thailand, and the capital of Lampang Province. Inside the city live around 57,000 people, in the nearer outskirts live another more than 61,000 people. Lampang is connected to Bangkok and Chiang Mai by an eight lane motorway. Besides, it lies along the northern railway wich also connects the two big cities via Lampung.

'Lampang Clock Tower' by Asienreisender

The nightly clock tower of Lampang. Image by Asienreisender, 2/2007

As usually for the places in Thailand's north, Lampung lies in a large valley between two mountain ranges. In the west are the Khun Tan Mountains, in the east the Phi Pan Nam Mountains, who separate it from Phrae in the neighbouring valley. The Wang River flows through the city.

The climate here in the north is somewhat cooler than in the areas closer to the Gulf of Thailand. In winter time, northern winds from China and Siberia bring cool air and make the temperatures drop sometimes down to 10 degree celsius. Also the rainy season in the northern regions is shorter and lasts only from June to October/November. As the whole, mountainous north, Lampang is suffering under the annual haze in the dry seasons, due to massive forest fires and the field fires of the peasants.



'An Illuminated Bridge over the Wang River in Lampang' by Asienreisender

An illuminated bridge over the Wang River in Lampang. Image by Asienreisender, 2/2007

Traditionally the economy is based on agriculture like rice and fruits. Sugar Cane as a cash crop was added in the last years. In the 19th and 20th century, Lampang was a center for teak logging, but since the resources are exhausted, and the forests are destroyed, only teak plantations contribute to this economic branch anymore. Tourism plays a very minor role; most tourists in the north concentrate on Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Nevertheless remarkable are the horse carriages, who are so typical for Lampang. In the province are several coal power plants who cause a hefty air pollution and damage the peoples health.

Among the educational institutions there is a branch of Thammasat University in town. Since it's the third biggest city in the north, there is an airport around the city.


A Very Short History of Lampang

'The Main Chedi of Wat Phra That Lampang Luang' by Asienreisender

The top of the main Chedi of Wat Phra That Lampang Luang. Image by Asienreisender, 2007

Lampang was originally founded by Mon People in the 7th century. They were part of the northern Dvaravati Culture. In later centuries it was conquered by the empire of Angkor, then by the Tai kingdom of Lanna in the time of king Mangrai (13th century). In the 16th century the Burmese occupied Lanna, threatening Ayutthaya from the north (additionally to the threat from the west, namely via the Three Pagodas Pass). After the downfall of Ayutthaya in 1767, the whole north was repeatedly havoced by Burmese armies and widely depopulated. The local aristocracy of Lampung got rid of the Burmese (by initially killing the Burmese ruler and then driving the Burmese forces out) in the late 18th century. In the following time, Lanna didn't play a political role anymore, it was a weak, remote, unimportant area. In the second half of the 19th century, the British logging companies came via the Shan territories into Lanna, to exploit the huge teakwook forests. Before Lanna would have became part of British India, king Chulalongkorn of Siam bailed it out and incorporated it into Bangkok Siam at the end of the 19th century.

It's part of Lampang's charme to have a number of temples from the different historical eras it passed through. There are alone nine Burmese temples in town, out of 31 in Thailand altogether. It's said that the famous Emerald Buddha, who is now in Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok, was for some 30 years in the 15th century placed in Wat Phra Kaeo Don Tao.

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang
'Wat Phra That Lampang Luang' by Asienreisender

Wat Phra That Luang, a bit outside of town, but still in walking distance, represents a Lanna style temple. Image by Asienreisender, 2/2007