Lanna Folklife Museum

Lanna Folklife Museum in Chiang Mai

Discover the story of Lanna at Lanna Folklife Museum

Chiang Mai which is the traditional city of Lanna civilization that inherits its tradition, culture, and way of life since the ancient time from generation to generation. Many of them are outstanding and delicately describe the identity of this ancient city and the belief and Buddhist religion that attached firmly to be part of the Lanna lifestyle, art, culture, and craftsmanship.

The travelers who come to visit Chiang Mai can explore to this exotic and glorious civilization of Lanna from the past to the present at “Lanna Folklife Museum” where the place set up the exhibition about the beautiful way of life. And the characteristic in Buddhist art which presented in the ritual appliance, architecture, custom, painting, and handicraft of Lanna via different presentation to inherit and publish to whom who interesting including to the tourist abidingly. 

Importance of Lanna Folklife Museum

In the olden days, if you traveled around the Three Kings Monument site that is literally renowned among the citizen of Chiang Mai as a symbol or another landmark of this city. And the opposite side is the white European contemporary building stands elegantly that well-known for the local is “Civil Court”. At that time, it was no doubt for many ones to curious about the place since it was usual to see the gate was shut all the time. However, the gate is opened and welcomes to all visitors due to the court turns to be a new tourist attraction in Chiang Mai with its new title as “Lanna Folklife Museum”.   

Lanna Folklife Museum is the masterpiece of work of the mayor of The Administration of Chiang Mai Municipality. The location is a perfect destination to start your journey in this historical city because you would acknowledge one of “the most magnificent and precious civilization” of Thailand and Southeast Asia after you complete your tour at the museum here.

On the one hand, Lanna Folklife Museum in the memory of lots of people used to be the white architecture locates outstanding opposite from the Three Kings Monument is the former royal court in the city center and turned to be the civil court of the province, then it is currently the museum, finally. The museum allocated into 18 partitions with the presentation of the way of life, the Buddha’s history, Buddhist art, appliances for the rites, architecture, and arts of the Lanna from the old days.

About the Lanna Folklife Museum

From the past to the present, Chiang Mai is acceptable as one of the top tourist landmarks in the northern territory of Thailand. The city of ancient Lanna with more than 700 years old of history which rich of valuable culture and arts that are countless to reserve for the next generation. The museum features the unique identity of Lanna civilization that is delicately and diversity, also project the wisdom and definition that concealed with the belief of Lanna harmoniously.

Lanna Folklife Museum was opened officially on August 13, 2018, which presided by HRH Princess  Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. The place with its objective to serve as the alternative tourist attraction that collects both education and art of Lanna in the past and presents with the creativity to appeal the tourist to come to visit or even long-term stay in Chiang Mai more. Also, it offers the chance to the tourist to learn about the art history and wisdom of Lanna that is the essential foundation of the town and truly appreciate its value more than ever.

The museum consists of 18 partitions with the different theme of the exhibitions including;

  • Kuang Kaew Lanna or Temple courtyard for special ceremonies
  • Inside A Buddha Image Hall
  • Lanna Worship Offering
  • Lanna Sculpture
  • Hae Khrua Than
  • Lanna Mural Painting
  • Lanna Painting
  • Ceramics and Lacquerware
  • Woven Basketry Making a Living
  • Music and Lifestyle
  • Lanna Textile
  • History of Lanna Folklife Museum Building
  • Lanna Mahankhaphan and more

Taking a tour of the museum 

Once entering the admission booth at the front of the building, the visitor will get the pamphlet with the detail of the exhibitions and map. The first section is “Kuang Kaew Lanna” which duplicates the lifestyle and rites of Lanna that impacts the architecture and Buddhist art. “Inside A Buddha Image Hall” is the next room that exhibits the relevant story from the previous one intentionally. 

Inside A Buddha Image Hall

Despite the time goes by for over the centuries along the glory of the rulers of Chiang Mai until it has been faded by time. However, the hint that disguised within the art that mostly present via the center of the community in the past “temple”. The exhibition in this section orderly presents the story of the worship offering and any brainchild related to the religious such as the various style of “Toong” the Lanna flag that used in the different occasion in both propitious ceremony and misfortune ceremony. This leads the visitor to understand the true meaning of Tung that is not just used for the decoration purpose.

“Lanna Sculpture in Buddhism” that began since the olden day the time of the city establishment. The creations by the native craftsman to the royal court artisan and “Hae Khrua Than” rite (a northern tradition of the Buddhist merit-making during October – November). The various works of sculpture and handicraft – ceramic, lacquerware, weaving basketry, music and performing the art that connected to Buddhism with the detailed caption for all exhibitions. So, it is not only entertaining to the tourist but also educating them, too.  

Lanna Textile on the second floor

On the second floor, it is the exhibition of Lanna textile which presents the diverse lineages of Lanna citizen. Each piece of the fabric showing here is antique with the classic pattern that is countless since some design already extinct. Some of them are more than the centuries but still in perfect condition with well protect from the offspring of the creators.

“Lanna Mahankhaphan,” the exhibition that presents the regalia to worship Phra Boromathat (the pagoda that stored the Buddha’s relics), the Buddha’s relics, antique Buddha images, various accessories from the ancient Lanna that are hard to see in general. 

Three Kings Monument in front of Lanna Folklife Museum

Then, we shall cross the street to the rear of the Three Kings Monument which is the location of “Chiang Mai Historical Center” where the place the tourist will learn about the history of the Lanna Kingdom and Chiang Mai city since the establishment before the reign of King Mangrai. Also, the cultural evidence during the period that the state was dominated by Burma and got back the independence until the city transferred from the dependency state to Chiang Mai, a province of Thailand.

Witness the rare items of photography along the ancient wall. From the evidence assumed that it belongs to Wat Phra Kaew that was created inside the palace followed to the belief of the Rattanakosin Kingdom as same as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha that locates within the Grand Palace in Bangkok metropolis.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of the visitors to check-in at the Lanna Folklife Museum and Chiang Mai Historical Center is foreign tourists. They intentionally to buy the ticket to visit the place even the Chinese that we can imply it is not fixed in the tour program definitely. The tourists with the brochure in hand read the detail and also describe to their children that pay attention to this exciting information which is such a lovely scene to see as the host.  

About the costume, although Lanna Folklife Museum does not make strict, however, it would be appropriate to all visitors to get dress politely.      

Learn and Pass the valuable narrative of Lanna

“Tussanai Buranupakorn,” the mayor of Chiang Mai Municipality said that “Many years ago, the Chiang Mai Municipality aimed to develop the space at the city center to be the tourist attraction where the place serves as the center that collects the pieces of evidence that are the identity of Lanna. The purpose of Lanna Folklife Museum is to the integrated venue of which tourist attraction and learning center to esteem the culture and way of life of Chiang Mai to the global audience. Also, the place aims to preserve the history of art including the wisdom of the Lanna Kingdom that has inherited from generation to generation. 

The plan to set the museum as the learning center of the history of art and wisdom of Lanna has motivated the local people with the conscience of hometown preservation in the long term. The idea to connect Lanna Folklife Museum and Chiang Mai Historical Center is also the applause to develop and promote the private segment in the city to support in conservation in which to make the genuine integration and unity, as well,”

The mayor also added that “the location of the Lanna Folklife Museum, in the past was part of the royal court which believed that it is the “Front Palace” since it is a legacy of “The Viceroy Chao Suriya”. Initially, the viceroy would offer the place to be the city hall of Chiang Mai since 1899, however, according to the intention of Princess Dara Rasmi to dedicate some part of her residence to the government to set up the city hall (currently is the Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Center). Therefore, the royal court of Chao Suriya then inherited to Chao Noi Lao Kaew, his son, instead.”

After that, the office purchased the property to build the civil court of Chiang Mai instead of the old one that located around the foot of Nawarat Bridge. The piece of land is about 9,600 sqm in total including the space of Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Center, The Historical Center of Chiang Mai, and Lanna Folklife Museum. This concept is the integration of all significant buildings in the same area that are all connectible by the idea to conserve and develop the property in the city center appropriately. Consequently, the location is effective in tourist attraction which will lead the city to be the sustainably livable city. The project cost about THB70 MB in a total of capital.  

 “Juthaporn Inthawongse” Head of Public Relations and Activity Division, Lanna Folklife Museum suggested that “Within the museum, it’s an exhibition called ” Khuang Kaew Lanna” which is the origin of the Buddhist art in Lanna, the old-fashioned belief of animism that blended with the religious rites. It represented the faith in Buddhist of Lanna people through the pieces of art and architectures, in particular, the vihara. The creation of the Buddhist art from the belief and the delicately decoration and ornament of the offerings that concealed the meaningful Buddhist wisdom of Lanna, as well.  

Each room within the museum has the different theme of the exhibition. For example, ” Lanna Offering” that furnished with the great pattern related to the religion and auspicious things. Lanna mural painting by the Chiang Mai artisan family that is unique in its style and the art that influenced by other neighboring kingdoms. Also, the picture on objects especially the painting on the glass and palm leaves which is the way to record any branches of knowledge in the ancient time – cosmology, politics, astrology, literature, prescription, and Yantra tattooing.

It just like you walk back to the age of ancient Lanna Kingdom that you will witness the simulation of Khrua Than Ceremony, traditional rites, and the story of the music that connected to the Lanna way of life. Also, the food, Lanna textile, ceramics, the Buddha image, and other precious objects that are all together here at this museum.         

Tourist Information of Lanna Folklife Museum

The operating time:

Lanna Folklife Museum opens between 8.30am-5.00pm from Tuesday to Sunday (included the public holidays). The site closes on Monday and during the Songkran Festival. 

Admission Fee:

Thai: Adult: THB20 and Children: THB10

Foreigner: Adult: THB90 and Children THB40

*for any further inquiries, please contact (+66) 053-217793

How to get there

Lanna Folklife Museum is on Phra Pokklao Road, the opposite side of the Three Kings Monument in the city center of Chiang Mai.


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