Nan has one of the region's most unusual and beautiful temples, Wat Pumin, whose murals alone make a visit to this part of northern Thailand worthwhile. It's an economically constructed temple, combining the main shrine hall and viharn, and qualifies as one of northern Thailand's best examples of folk architecture. To enter, you climb a short flight of steps flanked by two superb nagas, their heads guarding the north entrance and their tails the south. The 16th-century
temple was extensively renovated in 1865 and 1873, and at the end of the 19th century murals picturing everyday life were added to the inner walls. Some have a unique historical context—like the French colonial soldiers disembarking at a Mekong River port with their wives in crinolines. A fully rigged merchant ship and a primitive steamboat are portrayed as backdrops to scenes showing colonial soldiers leering at the pretty local girls corralled in a palace courtyard. Even the conventional Buddhist images have a lively originality, ranging from the traumas of hell to the joys of courtly life. The bot's central images are also quite unusual—four Sukhothai Buddhas locked in conflict with the evil Mara.
Phalong Rd., Nan, 55000, Thailand