Northern Thailand

Regions of Thailand Nakhon Sawan Province Nan River
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
 • Total93,691 km2 (36,174 sq mi)
 • Total6,341,973
 • Density77/km2 (200/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Khon Muang
LanguageNorthern Thaiothers

Northern Thailand 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 it is related to the Lanna Kingdom and its culture.


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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.

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

National parks

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
Flag Seal Province Capital DOPA Population Area (km2) Density ISO
Flag of Chiang Mai Province.gif Seal Chiang Mai.png 1 Chiang Mai Chiang Mai 14 1,763,742 20,107.0 88 TH-50
Flag of Lam Phun Province.png Seal Lamphun.png 2 Lamphun Lamphun 54 405,955 4,505.9 90 TH-51
Flag of Lampang Province.png Seal Lampang.png 3 Lampang Lampang 53 742,883 12,534.0 59 TH-52
Flag of the Uttaradit Province.png Seal Uttaradit.png 4 Uttaradit Uttaradit 75 455,403 7,838.6 58 TH-53
Flag of Phrae Province.png Seal Phrae.png 5 Phrae Phrae 41 445,090 6,538.6 68 TH-54
Flag of Nan Province.jpg Seal Nan.png 6 Nan Nan 26 478,989 11,472.1 42 TH-55
Flag of Phayao Province.jpg Seal Phayao.png 7 Phayao Phayao 34 475,215 6,335.1 75 TH-56
Flag of Chiang Rai.gif Seal Chiang Rai.png 8 Chiang Rai Chiang Rai 13 1,292,130 11,678.4 111 TH-57
Flag of Mae Hong Son Province.png Seal Mae Hong Son.png 9 Mae Hong Son Mae Hong Son 45 282,566 12,681.3 22 TH-58
Flag of Nakhon Sawan Province.png Seal Nakhon Sawan.png 10 Nakhon Sawan Nakhon Sawan 23 1,063,964 9,597.5 111 TH-60
Flag of Uthai Thani Province.jpg Seal Uthaithani.png 11 Uthai Thani Uthai Thani 76 329,433 6,730.3 49 TH-61
Flag of Kamphaeng Phet Province.gif Seal Kamphaeng Phet.png 12 Kamphaeng Phet Kamphaeng Phet 5 727,807 8,607.3 85 TH-62
Flag of Tak Province.png Seal Tak.png 13 Tak Tak 17 654,676 16,406.6 40 TH-63
Flag of Sukhothai Province.png Seal Sukhothai.png 14 Sukhothai Sukhothai 66 597,257 6,596.1 91 TH-64
Flag of the Phitsanulok Province.png Seal Phitsanulok.png 15 Phitsanulok Phitsanulok 38 866,891 10,815.8 80 TH-65
Flag of Phichit Province.png Seal Phichit.png 16 Phichit Phichit 37 539,374 4,531.0 119 TH-66
Flag of Phetchabun Province.png Seal Phetchabun.png 17 Phetchabun Phetchabun 40 994,540 12,668.4 79 TH-67


See also


  1. ^ Advancing Human Development through the ASEAN Community, Thailand Human Development Report 2014, table 0:Basic Data (PDF) (Report). United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Thailand. pp. 134–135. ISBN 978-974-680-368-7. Retrieved 17 January 2016, Data has been supplied by Land Development Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, at Wayback Machine.[dead link]
  2. ^ a b "รายงานสถิติจำนวนประชากรและบ้านประจำปี พ.ศ.2561" [Statistics, population and house statistics for the year 2018]. Registration Office Department of the Interior, Ministry of the Interior (in Thai). 31 December 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  3. ^ Forest data: Thailand Deforestation Rates
  4. ^ Northern Thailand Archived 2012-01-28 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ ดร.กระมล ทองธรรมชาติ และคณะ, สังคมศึกษา ศาสนาและวัฒนธรรม ม.1, สำนักพิมพ์ อักษรเจริญทัศน์ อจท. จำกัด, 2548, หน้า 24-25