From the Blog

July 28, 2016

Royal Trophy Nan Boat Races

Possibly the biggest Longboat racing festival in Thailand, that at its heart is to remind people of an ancient lost Kingdom

Royal Trophy Nan Boat Races 4


When: September and October 2016

Where: Nan River, Nan province Northern Thailand

This is possibly the Kingdoms biggest Longboat festival, with usually around 200 boats competing, from over 100 communities. Each boat can accommodate up to 60 oarsmen, dressed in their individual team uniform, in a double row, this dazzling array makes for an explosion of colour.

The equally colourful-painted boats, are made from whole tree trunks and adorned at the prow, with elaborately-crafted naga heads.

These wonderful reminders of a time long past, are once again united with the Nan River in this annual vibrant festival. The event is a poignant reminder of the history of the once ancient Northern Kingdom. The vivid colours and noise from the crowds makes for a fun filled, gloriously colourful, spectacle.



Royal Trophy Nan Boat Races 3


The Royal Trophy Nan Boat Races takes place over two periods. The opening races will be held mid to late September and the final matches after Wan Ok Phansa Day (16th October 2106). During the festivities, there will be a fair with booths selling local delicacies, drinks, souvenirs and local arts and crafts indigenous to Nan province.

As well as this spectacular annual Nan Boat festival, there will be other boat racing events held throughout the Nan Province during the period, including the Annual Boat Races of Tha Wang Pha district in September, the Boat Races of Wiang Sa district also in September and October, the Boat Races at Wat Silamongkhon in Tha Wang Pha district and the Nan Youth Boat Races are both held in October. For more on other longboat festivals across Thailand click here

Contact: TAT Phrae Office Tel: +66 (0) 5452 1127 Nan Municipal Office Tel: +66 (0) 5471 0234 ext. 138-139 Pictures from TAT


Royal Trophy Nan Boat Races 2

A little on the city of Nan

Nan (น่าน), is a town in the remote valley of the Nan River, in the Northern River Valleys region of Northern Thailand, bordering Laos. The area is heavily forested with arable land used mainly for agriculture. It is an ancient city, steeped in history with its long association with the Lanna Thai culture and the Sukhothai kingdom. It is 668 km north of Bangkok, located in the centre of Nan Province, which bears its name. It is a relatively small city, primarily devoted to commercial, administrative, educational, and hospital activities.

The old heart of the city, is where its most notable treasure is located, that of the renown Wat Phumin, along with the national museum and a number of other tourist attractions.


Royal Trophy Nan Boat Races 1

A brief History of Nan

Little-known Nan, goes back to the depths of the history of Thailand. For centuries it was a separate, autonomous kingdom with few relationships with the outside world.

There is much evidence of prehistoric habitation in the province, but it wasn’t until several small semi independent city states, united-to-form Nanthaburi on the Nan River in the mid-14th century, that the history of the earliest inhabitants became better known to the outside world. From it’s humble beginnings, the people began to form relationship with neighbouring newly formed kingdoms, such as Luang Prabang and the Lan Xang (Million Elephants) kingdom, both located in present day Laos. They were later to be associated with the mighty Sukhothai kingdom. With their increasing power the Nan took the title Wara Nakhon and played a significant part in the development of early Thai nationalism.

By the end of the 14th century Nan, was one of the nine northern Thai-Lao principalities that comprised Lan Na Thai (now Lanna) and the city state flourished throughout the 15th century under the name Chiang Klang (“Middle City”), a reference to its position roughly midway between Chiang Mai (“New City”) and Chiang Thong (Golden City, which is today’s Luang Prabang).


Royal Trophy Nan Boat Races


The Burmese

The Burmese took control of the kingdom in 1558 and deported many of the inhabitants to Burma as slaves; the city was completely deserted until northern Thailand was retaken from the Burmese in 1786. The local dynasty then regained local sovereignty and it remained semi-autonomous until 1931 when Nan finally accepted full Bangkok dominion. Part of its territory had been annexed to Laos by the French in the late-19th century.

The city’s wats are distinctive; some temple structures show Lanna influence, while others belong to the Thai Lue legacy brought from Xishuangbanna in China, where the Thai Lue people originated. Parts of the old city wall also date from the Lanna period.


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