For anyone interested in history, a visit to the former royal city of LAMPHUN is a must. The town's largely plain architecture is given some character by the surrounding waterways, beyond which stretch lush rice fields. Though the streets are usually sleepy, the ancient working temples of Wat Phra That Haripunjaya and Wat Kukut are lively and worth aiming for on a half-day trip from Chiang Mai.
Lamphun claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited town in Thailand, and has a history dating back to the late eighth or early ninth century when the ruler of the major Dvaravati centre at Lopburi sent his daughter, Chama Thevi, to found the Theravada Buddhist state of Haripunjaya here. Under the dynasty she established, Haripunjaya flourished as a link in the trade route to Yunnan in southwest China, although it eventually came under the suzerainty of the Khmers at Angkor, probably in the early eleventh century. In 1281, after a decade of scheming, King Mengrai of Chiang Mai conquered Lamphun and integrated it once and for all into the Kingdom of Lanna, which by then covered all of north Thailand.