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The Kingdoms of Lan Na in North Thailand

The Lan Na Kingdom (s)

  • From the mid 1000 century until 1250 the Tai drifted in to and settled through out the Upper North. The main group to do so was the Yuan Tai. Their land to the north was referred to as ‘’ Yonok ‘’, which is the thai version of the Pali word ‘’Yonaka’’. The first documented ruler of the Tai was Mang Rai from the Tai Lue clan of Chiang Rung in Yunnan. Mangrai founded the now modern city of Chiang Rai (King Mang Rai's City) in 1263 and conquered Lamphun in 1292, later to found the City of Chiang Mai in 1298.


  • In 1327 these Tai Yuan founded the town of Chiang Saen, in 1338 the Tai Principality of Phayao came under the rule of Chiang Mai and by 1350 most of Lan Na was ruled by these Tai Yuan. The Tai controlled areas of Nan and Phrae were under the influence of the Tai of Sukhothai until 1444 and 1449. The Tai Yuan replaced the Mon as the regions administrators. They developed a new view of themselves in the world, maintaining their old animistic beliefs, with new ones adopted from the Lawa plus the Mon Buddhist traditions.
  • This was the time when the Tai captured Haripunchai and Lampang, established the new town of Chiang Mai, constructed Chiang Saen, captured Phayao and started construction of Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai. 
The Period of the Golden Age of Lan Na (1355-1525)

The Period of Decline (1525-1558)

  • This was a period of political instability when noblemen challenged the authority of the Kings and when 2 Kings were assassinated, when Ayutthaya invaded and when the Lan Na noblemen finally invited the son of the King of Xan Chang (Laos) to come and be King, when he later returned to be King of Laos he took with him the Lan Na jems, the Emerald Buddha and the Sihing Buddha image.

The Period of Burmese Occupation (1558-1774)

  • Lan Na was in political chaos and the Burmese King invaded and conquered the place in 3 days. The Lan Na king remained but as a puppet and in 1578 the Burmese installed their own noblemen to rule. Burmese occupation lasted for 218 years.
The Period of Lan Na Restoration (1774- 1899)

  • This is the period which started when King Taksin of Thon Buri (Bangkok) and Phraya Kawila of Lampang expelled the Burmese from Chiang Mai and later Chiang Rai, when these cities were rebuilt and repopulated, when Lan Na's borders were extended to include Chiang Tung, Chiang Rung and Sip Son Panna, (areas now including parts of China, Laos and Myanmar), when Temples were restored or renovated, when the fortifications of Chiang Mai were upgraded, the Moats, the earthen ramparts and the City Walls rebuilt. At this time trade in teak with the British was profitable.
The Period of Lan Na Reformation (1884-1937)

  • This is the period when the cities of Lan Na became part of Siam and Bangkok sent Govenors and Lan Na was classified as a northern region, later to be incorporated in 1932 into the National Administration as a Province when the county system was abolished.


The Tai Kings and Burmese Rulers of Lan Na
  • Mengrai The Great 1259 to 1317
  • Saen Phu 1318 to 1319
  • Krüa 1319 to 1322
  • Nam Thuam 1322 to 1324
  • Saen Phu 1324 to 1334
  • Kamphoo 1334 to 1345
  • Phayaoo 1345 to 1367
  • Kuena 1367 to 1385
  • Saen Muang Ma 1385 to 1411
  • Sam Fang Kaen 1411 to 1441
  • Tilokaraj 1441 to 1485
  • Yotchiangrai 1485 to 1514
  • Phraya Kaeo 1514 to 1525
  • Sai Sethathirath  1525 to 1535 & 1543 to 1545
  • Queen Chiraprabha 1545 to 1547
  • Mekuti 1551 to 1564
  • Queen Chiraprabha 1564 to 1578