The Northern region of Thailand.
During the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), northern Thailand was referred to as 'Phayap'. Around 600-700 years ago, this area was known as the 'Lanna Thai Kingdom', the center of which was at Nopburi Sri Nakhon Phing Chiang Mai, located on the Ping River basin. Another strong state, known as the 'Nanthaburi Sri Nakhon Nan' was established during the same period on the Nan River basin. For this reason, the Lanna Kingdom was divided into two major parts. One was western Lanna with Chiang Mai as the center, and the other was eastern Lanna, with Nan at the center. Such cities as Phrae, Phayao and Lampang (located on the Wang and Yom river basins) were called 'Middle Lanna'.
It occupies an approximate area of 170,000 square kilometers or the equivalent of 106 millions rai, bordering on the territories of Laos and Myanmar.
The north is the home of Thailand's earliest civilization and is famous for its beautiful women, and hospitable and courteous people, as well as many sites of archaeological and cultural interest such as the Ancient City of Sukhothai which used to be the first capital of Thailand some 700 years ago; Buddha's Relics at Wat Doi Suthep of Chiang Mai, a highly revered place for northerners; Phra Buddha Chinarat, which is said to be the most beautiful Buddha image of Thailand, at Wat Phra Si Ratana-Mahathat in Phitsanulok. The largest dam of Thailand, and the world's seventh largest is also here Bhumibol Dam in Tak.
In addition, the northern region is the home of Thailand's many colorful hill tribal people such as the Lahu of Tak and the Yao, Akha, Karen, Hmong, and Lisu tribes of the Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai moutain regions.
The North is also noted for its rich cultural traditions, and many tourists from the surrounding provinces flock to Chiang Mai for the annual Songkran Festival, and to Sukhothai for Loi Krathong.
The North is accesible by the good network of highways in the region itself and interregion highways. On the map of Thailand, ther are three main highways leading towards the northern region. The first highway, known as 'Western Lanna Circle,' passes through Tak, Chiang Mai, Wiang Pa Pao and Chiang Rai. The second highway, referred to as 'Eastern Lanna Circle,' covers Phitsanulok, Uttaradit, Phrae and Nan. The Third highway, regarded as 'Middle Lanna Circle,' passes through Sukhothai, Phrae, Phayao, Phan and Chiang Rai. Trains run from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and there are flights operated by the Thai Airways International Ltd. ( Domestic ) from Bangkok to Phitsanulok, Phrae, Nan, Lampang, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Tak, Mae Sot and Mae Hong Son.
Thailand northern region comprises 17 Changwats (provinces); they are :