Legend handed down for more than 1,400 years refer to this ancient town as Hariphunchai. Its first ruler was Queen Chamthewi who was of Mon extraction. In late 12th century, King Mengrai overran the town and subsequently integrated it into the Lanna Kingdom.
Today, Lamphun still retain its enchanting ambience of a small but old community. It is some 670 kilometres from Bangkok and only 26 kilometres from Chiang Mai. Located on the bank of the Kuang River, its attractions include ancient sites and relics as well as forests and mountains and delightful lakes. Lamphun is the most famous producer of longans.
This is a fairly small city compared to most places Westerners go. Buses come there from Lampang bus station, and also from Chiang Mai. The bus is about 50 Baht. The bus station itself is a little out of town, as most are in Thailand, but there are motorcycle taxis and samlors (if you are lucky with the latter) at the bus station. There are no tuk-tuks at all.
Songtaews (shared taxis) are available from Chiang Mai and take approximately 1 hour. Take the blue route from Chang Phuek Bus Station or by the river at Wararot Market. You can also flag one down anywhere on the old Chiang Mai - Lamphun road, route 106. These cost approximately 20 Baht.
Air conditioned minivans are also available from Wararot Market in Chiang Mai, also by the river. These are less frequent, but quicker. They cost around 25 Baht.
Note that songtaews and minivans are used heavily for commuting, it can be difficult to find a spare seat and so it is best to avoid commuter times.
Charoenraj Rd (the north-south main street) is the road to Chiang Mai and called Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road in Chiang Mai.
Luang Pha Waing Cave One of northern Thailand's largest caves and by far one of the most interesting. It is a large cave that is located about 45 km from Lamphun. It is only accessible after a 15 minute walk uphill. You should carry a bottle of water. It is well worth the effort to get there.
Lamphun Longan Festival Local festival celebrating Lamphun's important crop, the longan, a small, round fruit, similar in taste to lychee. The festival is held every year on the Queen's birthday, August 12. A long parade starts in the early afternoon going down the road past Wat Phra Haripunchai, the main temple of Lamphun, and vendors sell all sorts of hot snacks as well as longan related products along the river across from the parade route. There are also musical performances, laser-light shows, and fireworks by the river.
Jampha Plaza Shopping Mall on the main highway out of the city towards Lampang has several options, all air conditioned, including The Duke's for Western Food and Hot Pot for Korean cook your own style BBQ and soup. Prices of 300-400 Baht/person.
The Wooden House, on San Muaeng Neua Road a short distance to the west of the city is a more upmarket Thai restaurant offering a large menu at prices of 80B-250B a plate. Alcohol is served and from 8pm there is often a band playing Thai Folk songs. Early evening it is very quiet.
Larb Gai Baan Hong on the West side of the moat is famous for its Larb Gai (Spicy minced chicken salad) and well presented waitresses. They have live music playing the latest Thai pop music.
The Best, on Charoen Tar (the road between the Chiang Mai - Lamphun Road (106) and the railway station) is a very lively affair with loud music and a large menu. Prices are slightly higher than elsewhere, and the music can be too loud for conversation.
Next door to The Best is Muan Jai Restaurant, a more laid back affair offering a cook your own hot pot experience as well as a reasonable menu. Reasonable prices and a friendly bar.
Dao Kanong, on Charoen Rat Road, is the longest standing restaurant in Lamphun and for good reason. The food is excellent and prices reasonable at 60B-160B a plate. However, it lacks the ambiance of other restaurants. They have off street parking.
Krua Niyom, on San Pa Yang Road, half way from the moat to the Thaen Tong Hotel, offers good food at very affordable prices - 40B-90B. beer is available. Be prepared to wait, it is a family run business and staffing depends on who is available.
Ton Fai Restaurant, in a two story teak building on the across the road from the river close to the Haripunchai Temple, has a selection of Thai and Northern dishes. The owner is a very friendly man who speaks excellent English. The food is excellent when he is there, but unfortunately standards slip when he is away. If greeted by a middle aged guy with a big smile, enjoy your meal, if not, go upstairs and enjoy a beer overlooking the street below.
There is little written or spoken English, so unless you speak some Thai, you will need to use body language and work your way through, but they are friendly people, and the restaurants are very cheap. You can get a good Thai meal for 100 baht or less, including a full sized bottle of Chang beer.
Across Charoen Rat Road from Siam TV Electronics Plaza is a large wooden building with a bar. Beer is very cheap - 55-70B/bottle and they offer snacks and a variety of Thai food. The owners Tong and Mint are very welcoming to foreigners, though little English is spoken. Note it gets very busy between 6pm and 9pm and a table can be hard to find, be prepared to perch on whatever you can until a seat becomes available. Beer is self service, there's a fridge and some bottle openers around, help yourself and keep your empties to make it easy to count for the bill.
100yds towards town on San Pa Yang Road from the Thaen Thong Hotel, on the right, is a small bar called Sports Bar. Several local expats can be found frequenting the bar and the owner's boyfriend speaks good English.
Out on the road towards Big C there are several Bars, including Laew Der Bar and Jaewjing. These places are very popular with factory workers and can be very lively with live music.
To the East of Big C, across Highway 11, is Rodeo Club, a Thai style nightclub. Very popular with the locals, but behave yourself as there can be trouble.