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Northern Region
Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Fourth Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge
Phu Chi Fa
Northern Region in Thailand
Northern Region in Thailand
Largest cityChiang Mai
 • Total96,077 km2 (37,096 sq mi)
 • Total6,350,499
 • Density66/km2 (170/sq mi)
DemonymKhon Muang
Time zoneUTC+07:00 (ICT)
LanguageThaiNorthern ThaiLolo-BurmeseKarenic • • MienicPalaungicSouthwestern Mandarin etc.

Northern Thailand, or more specifically Lanna, is geographically characterised by several mountain ranges, which continue from the Shan Hills in bordering Myanmar to Laos, and the river valleys which cut through them. Though like most of Thailand, it has a tropical savanna climate, its relatively high elevation and latitude contribute to more pronounced seasonal temperature variation, with cooler winters than the other regions.

Historically, northern Thailand has been linked to the Hariphunchai Kingdom, which emerged as a powerful state in the region in the 7th century. This kingdom was related to the Dvaravati that existed from the 6th to 11th centuries. The Hariphunchai culture later influenced the development of the Lanna Kingdom, which emerged in the 13th century and lasted until the 18th century.[3][4]


See also: Mae Chan Fault

North Thailand is bound by the Salween River in the west and the Mekong in the east. The basins of rivers Ping, Wang, Yom, and Nan, all tributaries of the Chao Phraya River, in the central part run from north to south and are mostly very wide. The basins cut across the mountains of two great ranges, the Thanon Range in the western part and the Phi Pan Nam in the eastern. Their elevations are generally moderate, a little above 2,000 metres (6,562 ft) for the highest summits. Although formerly forested, many of these mountains are now denuded.[5]

Parallel mountain ranges extend from the Daen Lao Range (ทิวเขาแดนลาว), in the southern region of the Shan Hills, in a north–south direction, the Dawna Range (ทิวเขาดอยมอนกุจู) forming the western border of Thailand between Mae Hong Son and the Salween River.[6] To the east the Thanon Thong Chai Range (เทือกเขาถนนธงชัย), the Khun Tan Range (ทิวเขาขุนตาน), the Phi Pan Nam Range (ทิวเขาผีปันน้ำ), as well as the western part of the Luang Prabang Range (ทิวเขาหลวงพระบาง), form the natural region of the Thai highlands together with the former.[7]

These high mountains are incised by steep river valleys and upland areas that border the central plain. A series of rivers, including the Nan, Ping, Wang, Yom, and Nan, flow southwards through mountain valleys and join to form the Chao Phraya in Nakhon Sawan Province in the central region. Sirikit Dam is on the Nan River in Uttaradit Province. The northeastern part is drained by rivers flowing into the Mekong basin, like the Kok and Ing.

The four-region system includes the northern parts of the central plain as well as some mountainous areas bordering the western and the northeastern limits. The total forest area is 90,228 km2 (34,837 sq mi) or 52.5 percent of this four-region area.[1]

Map of Thailand highlighting the provinces of the northern region in the six-region system
Map of Thailand highlighting the provinces of the northern region in the six-region system
Northern Thailand according to the four-region grouping system
Northern Thailand according to the four-region grouping system

National parks

Main article: List of national parks of Thailand

Within the northern region there are some sixty national parks. Chiang Mai Province has nine national parks of which Doi Inthanon National Park with the country's highest mountain and Op Luang National Park have a scenic river canyon, waterfalls, and caves. Doi Khun Tan National Park, which is located midway between the two provincial capitals of province Lampang and Lamphun, is best known for Thailand's longest railroad tunnel, which is 1,352 metres (4,436 ft) long. Doi Phu Kha National Park in province Nan is northern Thailand's largest national park.

Regional classification of northern Thailand

The northern region, as defined by the National Geographical Committee in 1978, consists of nine provinces. Geographically the division, in conformance with the six-region system, includes most of the mountainous natural region of the Thai highlands.

In the four-region classification system, northern Thailand gains the eight upper-central-region provinces: Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Sawan, Phetchabun, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Sukhothai, Uthai Thani and Tak, bringing the total to 17 provinces.

In 2019 it is common to subdivide the northern region into: nine provinces of the upper northern region and eight provinces of the lower northern region. All websites of these eight provinces state: "located in the lower northern region".

Upper and Lower Northern provinces
Upper and Lower Northern provinces
Flag Seal Province Capital DOPA Population Area (km2) Density ISO
Chiangmai Provincial Flag.png
Seal Chiang Mai.png
1 Chiang Mai Chiang Mai 14 1,779,254 22,135 79 TH-50
Lamphun provincial flag.png
Seal Lamphun.png
2 Lamphun Lamphun 54 405,075 4,478 92 TH-51
Flag of Lampang Province.png
Seal Lampang.png
3 Lampang Lampang 53 738,316 12,488 59 TH-52
Uttaradit provincial flag.png
Seal Uttaradit.png
4 Uttaradit Uttaradit 75 453,103 7,906 58 TH-53
Seal of Phrae Province (colour version, as the provincial administration used).svg
5 Phrae Phrae 41 441,726 6,483 68 TH-54
Seal of Nan province.svg
6 Nan Nan 26 478,227 12,130 40 TH-55
Phayao flag.svg
Seal Phayao.png
7 Phayao Phayao 34 472,356 6,189 76 TH-56
Flag of Chiang Rai.gif
Seal Chiang Rai.svg
8 Chiang Rai Chiang Rai 13 1,298,304 11,503 113 TH-57
Flag Mae Hong Son Province.png
Seal Mae Hong Son.svg
9 Mae Hong Son Mae Hong Son 45 284,138 12,765 23 TH-58
Flag Nakhon Sawan Province.png
Seal Nakhon Sawan.png
10 Nakhon Sawan Nakhon Sawan 23 1,059,887 9,526 111 TH-60
Flag of Uthai Thani Province.jpg
Seal Uthaithani.png
11 Uthai Thani Uthai Thani 76 328,618 6,647 50 TH-61
Kamphaeng Phet Flag.png
Seal Kamphaeng Phet.png
12 Kamphaeng Phet Kamphaeng Phet 5 725,867 8,5123 86 TH-62
Flag of Tak Province.png
Seal Tak.png
13 Tak Tak 17 665,620 17,303 39 TH-63
Flag of Sukhothai Province.svg
Seal of Sukhothai Province (color version).svg
14 Sukhothai Sukhothai 66 595,072 6,671 89 TH-64
Pitsanulok flag.svg
Seal of Phitsanulok Province.svg
15 Phitsanulok Phitsanulok 38 865,247 10,589 82 TH-65
Flag of Phichit Province.png
Seal Phichit.png
16 Phichit Phichit 37 536,311 4,319 124 TH-66
Phetchabun provincial flag.png
Seal Phetchabun.png
17 Phetchabun Phetchabun 40 992,451 12,340 80 TH-67


For FY 2018, Northern Thailand Region had a combined economic output of 1,266 trillion baht (US$40.8 billion), or 7.7 percent of Thailand's GDP. Lamphun province had an economic output of 84.395 billion baht (US$2.7 billion). This equates to a GPP per capita of 211,489 baht (US$6,822), half more than for Chiang Mai province, next in the ranking and double than for Lampang province, which is third in the ranking.[8]

Gross Provincial Product (GPP)
Rank Province GPP
(million baht)
(x 1000)
GPP per capita (baht)
1 Lamphun 84,395 399 211,489
2 Chiang Mai 247,831 1,805 137,316
3 Lampang 71,950 714 100,709
4 Phayao 37,298 383 97,306
5 Chiang Rai 110,815 1,156 95,895
6 Uttaradit 39,190 416 94,260
7 Phrae 30,403 388 78,276
8 Nan 33,674 445 75,676
9 Mae Hong Son 13,728 235 58,370
  Upper provinces 669,284 5,941 112,655

Kamphaeng Phet province had an economic output of 117.705 billion baht (US$3.8 billion). This amounts to a GPP per capita of 150,783 baht (US$4,864), half more than for Tak province, which is fifth in the ranking.

Gross Provincial Product (GPP)
Rank Province GPP
(million baht)
(x 1000)
GPP per capita (baht)
1 Kamphaeng Phet 117,705 781 150,783
2 Nakhon Sawan 116,147 938 123,865
3 Phitsanulok 100,286 896 111,872
4 Uthai Thani 29,879 281 106,369
5 Tak 52,720 532 99,026
6 Phichit 48,347 518 93,265
7 Phetchabun 81,909 921 88,971
8 Sukhothai 50,384 613 82,147
  Lower provinces 597,377 5,480 109,010


Main articles: Northern Thai language and Thai language § Dialects

Further information: Hill tribe (Thailand)

Central Thai is the sole official language in Thailand. However, in the six-region classification system, it is the second largest native language in Northern Thailand, amounting to roughly two hundred thousand people, found in the lower part of Uttaradit Province. Central Thai spoken in southern regions of Northern Thailand in the four-region classification system comprise a group of dialects classified as Ne (Thai: เหน่อ). Because there are no significant Thai Chinese communities in Northern Thailand, the Krung Thep accent (prestige dialect) is not commonly found in Northern Thailand.[citation needed]

The main language is Northern Thai, which is a southwestern Tai language spoken in the 9 changwat of Northern Thailand. It is spoken by roughly six million people. There are also various hill tribe languages such as Lolo-Burmese, Karenic, Mienic, Mienic, Palaungic,Southwestern Mandarin.


  • Karen woman
    Karen woman
  • Hmong women
    Hmong women
  • River woman
    River woman
  • Akha woman
    Akha woman

See also


  1. ^ a b "ตารางที่ 2 พี้นที่ป่าไม้ แยกรายจังหวัด พ.ศ.2562" [Table 2 Forest area Separate province year 2019]. Royal Forest Department (in Thai). 2019. Retrieved 6 April 2021, information, Forest statistics Year 2019, Thailand boundary from Department of Provincial Administration in 2013((cite web)): CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  2. ^ รายงานสถิติจำนวนประชากรและบ้านประจำปี พ.ส.2562 [Statistics, population and house statistics for the year 2019]. Registration Office Department of the Interior, Ministry of the Interior. (in Thai). 31 December 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  3. ^ Tan, Heidi (2012), "The Many Streams of Buddhist Art in Thailand", Enlightened Ways: The Many Streams of Buddhist Art in Thailand, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, p. 13
  4. ^ Smith, John (2019). State, Community, and Ethnicity in Early Modern Thailand, 1351-1767 (PDF) (Ph.D. dissertation). University of Michigan. p. 40. Retrieved 2023-04-08.
  5. ^ Forest data: Thailand Deforestation Rates
  6. ^ Northern Thailand Archived 2012-01-28 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ ดร.กระมล ทองธรรมชาติ และคณะ, สังคมศึกษา ศาสนาและวัฒนธรรม ม.1, สำนักพิมพ์ อักษรเจริญทัศน์ อจท. จำกัด, 2548, หน้า 24-25
  8. ^ Phitsanulok Provincial Statistical Report 2562-2019: Economic Statistics - National Accounts. Phitsanulok Provincial Statistical Office (Report). National Statistical Office (NSO). 2020. pp. 94–95. ISSN 1905-8314.

Coordinates: 19°N 99°E / 19°N 99°E / 19; 99