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The two-coloured Rivers city

Posted on 21 January 2016 by admin

Widely known as Pak Nam Pho, Nakhon Sawan is a gateway to the North of Thailand. It holds significance in terms of history and culture aside from also being a hub of transportation and trade in the past. Besides its famous Chinese New Year celebrations, this province has hidden treasures, including local museums, a river island and the small town of Chum Saeng for visitors to explore.

“Nakhon Sawan is a legendary city. In the past, many Chinese migrants settled down here because Nakhon Sawan has rivers and abundant resources. This year, we celebrate the centenary of our Chinese New Year parades. You will be able to see old things and places here,” Supaporn Taengnara, chairwoman of the Nakhon Sawan Tourism Association, noted.

According to the Thai Tourism Society, a community tourism advocacy group, the other name of Nakhon Sawan was probably derived from the words, Pak Nam Phlo, meaning “the mouth of a river emerges”, as the Chao Phraya River begins here. The 740km-long Nan River, originating in the Pua district of Nan, flows south and meets the Ping and Wang rivers in tambon Kwai Yai, Muang Nakhon Sawan. The 550km-long Yom River, which originates in Phayao, flows south through Phrae, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok and Phichit, meeting the Nan River at Wat Koeichai Nua in Chum Saeng district, Nakhon Sawan. The Ping-Wang rivers and the Yom-Nan merge to form the Chao Phraya River at Pak Nam Pho. Another old name of Nakhon Sawan, given by the visiting King Rama V, is muang chon tawan, meaning a city that faces the Sun in the morning.

The history of this city dates back to prehistoric times – the late Iron Age or about 2,000-3ꯠ years ago. This is confirmed by the discovery of human skeletons, fragments of pottery, stone axes and iron tools on Khao Chong Khae Hill in tambon Chan Sen and at Ban Mai Chaimongkol Village in Ta Khli district. Aerial photos show traces of more than 20 ancient cities of the Dvaravati Period around the 11th-16th centuries scattered in Nakhon Sawan while archaeological excavations found pottery, ruins of pagodas, bases of Buddha statues, Wheel of Dhamma statues, Buddha amulets and jewellery at Chan Sen Ancient City.

During the Sukhothai Period about 600-700 years ago, this town was called Muang Phra Bang, a “muang na dan” border town south of Sukhothai, as mentioned in King Ramkhamhaeng’s First Inscription Stone. During the early Ayutthaya Period, it was a buffer zone. In the reign of the Ayutthaya Kingdom’s King Borommatrailokkanat (섨-1488), the king renamed Muang Phra Bang as Nakhon Sawan which then became a trading hub and a centre for troops to gather for war.

During the Thonburi Period in 1775, King Taksin the Great led his army to await and fight Burmese invaders here. During the early Rattanakosin Period, Nakhon Sawan was a major town for military logistics for northern towns. Goods from the North were transported by boat past this city, especially rice, via the Nan River and teak logs via the Ping River. The city grew and many Chinese migrants settled down there after the construction of the railway in the reign of King Rama V. The glory of this city reached its peak in the reign of King Rama VI and continually declined after the extension of the railway to Chiang Mai and the Great Depression during the񎦊s, which affected the whole world. Nakhon Sawan has become less important and has acted as just a gateway for goods since the opening of the Bangkok-Chiang Mai highway and the Dechatiwong Bridge over the Chao Phraya River in 1950.

Must-sees in Nakhon Sawan are the History of Muang Pak Nam Pho Museum, Yom Island, the centuries-old Chao Phor-Chao Mae Pak Nam Pho Shrine, the Walking Street and the old commercial town of Chum Saeng, about 40km north of Muang Nakhon Sawan.

During our recent Thai Tourism Society study trip for Bangkok’s community tourism networks, we visited the museum and shrine. While travelling by boat on the Nan River to Yom Island, we spotted a few raft houses with people still living there. On the island, we visited a fish sauce factory-turned-farm, an old shipbuilding yard, a soy bean preserving house and a candle making house. After returning to the city centre, we strolled down the riverside Walking Street which is open every Saturday evening. There we found a wide array of goods, ranging from clothes, handbags, accessories, toys, small trees and puppies to local and foreign food on sale from dusk until around 9.30pm.

The next morning, our group headed to Muang Chum Saeng Municipality. Prior to the construction of the northern railway in 1915, Chum Saeng Market had been a hub of commerce and log trading and a stopover for merchants who had travelled by boat between the northern towns and Bangkok. It remained popular until the construction of roads in 1950. Today, the atmosphere there is peaceful as always. Amid a lot of rundown shophouses, a number of old-style shops remain open. Fortunately, there is a ray of hope since local people and the municipality have joined hands to promote local tourism for people who yearn to reminisce about the good old days.

Santi Kunawong, managing director of Fairy Land Department Store who initiated and operates the History of Muang Pak Nam Pho Museum in this mall by borrowing the most displayed objects from local people, said that “the population of Nakhon Sawan comprise six groups of people – Thai, Chinese, Mon, Vietnamese, Laotian and descendants of migrants from the Indian subcontinent. All the groups live in harmony without conflict and conserve their cultures. Nakhon Sawan is full of delicious food due to its multiculturalism”.

Located 240km from Bangkok, Nakhon Sawan is easily accessible by train, bus and car as well as by public van from Victory Monument.

To get to Chum Saeng, you can travel from Muang Nakhon Sawan either by train or by car or bus using Highway 3600.

Riding a ferry across the Chao Phraya River costs 20 baht per person per return trip. Hiring a boat to tour any of the rivers costs 400 baht per hour and 700 baht per two hours per boat. Each boat can accommodate up to eight passengers.

The southern end of Yom Island is where the green-coloured Ping- Wang rivers and the brown-coloured Yom-Nan rivers meet to merge as the Chao Phraya River. In the past, many raft houses lined the river. There were at least three markets and even a school on rafts. Big shops on rafts were mostly owned by the Chinese. Most raft residents moved to live on the river banks after the Great Depression and the construction of roads.


Wat Koeichai Nua in tambon Koei Chai, Chum Saeng district, is believed to have been built over ᔘ years ago. The assumption is based on the fact that the principal pagoda, Phra Boromthat Chedi, is in an inverted bell style (Lanka style) with an octagonal base and sema (boundary) stones made of slate stones — the Sukhothai style. Other must-sees are Phra Buddha Srisanphet, the principal Buddha of the old ordination hall, the statue of the late former abbot Phra Khru Niraphaivithet, the statues of the infamous crocodile Dang Koeichai, the confluence of the Yom and Nan rivers, the Local Art Exhibition and two museums on the temple’s antiques and books. Admission is free.

In Chum Saeng, must-sees include Chum Saeng Railway Station, Srisuwan Drugstore, two printing houses, Chum Saeng Gallery, Kaewchai Hotel, Chaiwan Grocery Store, Mae Yuan goldshop and Chum Saeng’s first bookstore Kiatying. Visitors should pay respect to the statue of King Taksin the Great who led his army to suppress the rebellious ruler of Phitsanulok and was shot in one of his legs in Chum Saeng. The king had also led his troops to Nakhon Sawan to await and fight Burmese invaders several times.


Chao Phor-Chao Mae Chum Saeng Shrine has been a spiritual pillar for local people and boat travellers for almost a century. Every February, locals celebrate the birthdays of both deities. Every December, they take the statues to the streets around Chum Saeng Market in a parade for blessings. This tradition has continued for over 80 years.



Tang Seng Ha fish sauce factory is now the Tanwisuth Farm. As the numbers of small fish in the river have decreased and vanished in the past 40 years, the factory had to stop producing fish sauce and started raising fish, pigs and crocodiles for sale. At present, the farm, owned by Pong Tanwisuth, has over 60 fish ponds, 400 pigs, almost 100 crocodiles and numerous fighting cocks.

Chao Phor-Chao Mae Pak Nam Pho Shrine is located in tambon Khwae Yai by the Chao Phraya River opposite Pak Nam Pho Market. This Hainanese shrine must be older than 145 years because a Chinese man presented a bronze bell to the shrine in 1870. The shrine has the statues of Chinese deities Poon Thao Kong, Guan Yu and Chao Mae Tubtim, who protects seafarers. During the Chinese New Year Festivities around February, locals take all the statues in a procession around Pak Nam Pho Market with big celebrations as well as lion and dragon dances. This tradition has continued for a century.

Article source: http://feeds.bangkokpost.com/c/33101/f/535956/s/4d03daca/sc/10/l/0˸Sbangkokpost0N0Ctravel0Cin0Ethailand0C8340A960Cthe0Etwo0Ecoloured0Erivers0Ecity/story01.htm

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