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As a relatively remote province, Nan is best reached via private car or public bus. However, it is possible to take a train or plane to nearby Phrae or Chiang Rai and then a bus to Nan. Once in Nan, it may be easier to get around with your own car, but there are standard forms of local transport available for visitors: i.e. songtaews, motorbike taxis, samlors, and tuk tuks.
There is no train service directly to Nan, but as the bus alone is such a long ride a combination train, bus journey might be more enjoyable. From Bangkok’s Samsen station take a train to Denchai station, the only station in Phrae, the province that borders Nan to the south. Leaving Bangkok around 9 pm, the train arrives at Denchai around 6 or 7 the following morning. From the train station in Denchai a blue songtaew goes to Phrae from where red buses leave fairly regularly for Nan, a 1 ½ hour ride that costs about 40-50 Baht.
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 32 to Nakhon Sawan, Highway No. 117 to Phitsanulok, Highway No. 11 to Amphoe Den Chai, and then Highway No. 101 to Nan via Phrae, a total distance of 668 kilometers.
If you have rented a car in Chiang Mai the faster is from Phrae, though the more scenic route goes towards Phayao and then descends into Nan. As roads in the far north are hilly and many are unsealed (off the main roads) it may be preferable to rent a 4x4 if you plan to do any serious exploring on your own. Be aware that only Commercial First Class Insurance provides full coverage on rental cars (as opposed to limited personal or third party only insurance). Most international car rental agencies will offer this insurance (some only for those with a valid international driver’s license) while local companies may or may not. You may wish to request a copy of their insurance policy and ensure that it states "For Commercial Use". Regardless, inspect rental vehicles prior to rental and drive with caution, particularly as traffic in Thailand can be quite confusing, especially the habit of Thai motorcycles drivers to drive on the wrong side of the road.
Transport Co. Ltd. operates bus services from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2) to Nan every day. Overnight VIP buses are very comfortable with much leg room and the trip takes about 10 hours to complete. There are also regular busses from Chiang Rai to Nan. Call 0 2936 2852-66 or visit www.transport.co.th for more information. Other private companies include Phrae Tour (Tel: 0 2245 2369), Sombat Tour (Tel: 0 2936 2495-6), and Choetchai Tour (Tel: 0 5471 0362 (Nan Office)).
Nok Mini (nokairlines) offers flight from Bangkok (Don Muang Airport) to Nan 3 flights a day and sevens day a week , more information please visit www.nokair.com
You can also travel from Chiangmai to Nan by Kan airlines, more information please visit www.kanairlines.com
As in most rural Thai provinces there are typically songtaews that follow established routes around the provincial capital and local busses and songtaews for trips between towns within the province. Songtaews, motorbike taxis, and samlors (three wheeled pedal powered cabs) are usually available for private charter as well.