One of the most extraordinary things you won’t find in any other city in Thailand – but only in Lampang – is the use of horse carriages as means of transportations. This prominent symbol made the city known as “The Horse Carriages City” (in Thai Muang Rot Ma).
There are many stories about the origin of the phenomenon, and how the horse carriages use came to be common specifically in Lampang. Some stories mention an influence from Macao, Portugal, while others ‘blame’ the Burmese and British who ruled over Myanmar.
What we do know for certain is that the horse carriages appeared in Lampang back in 1916, during the time of King Rama 5 rule, when the train rail was extended and reached all the way to the city.
Back in the days, the city of Lampang was a busy commercial center, receiving commodities from neighboring Laos and Burma. The merchants needed a convenient means to transfer the goods from the train station to local shops, storerooms, and warehouses; they also needed a good means of transportation across the developing city. This is where the horse carriages came into play, becoming the city’s unofficial symbol (its official symbol is a white rooster).
At the time, horse carriages were in use in several other areas in the north, but they disappeared with time, and today you’ll only find them in Lampang – nowhere else in Thailand.
This unique means of transportation became a fun tourist attraction – you can travel across Lampang in different routes in a decorated horse carriage that even the locals enjoy. This interesting attraction is recommended to every tourist visiting Lampang.
I recall reading an entertaining story (3 years ago) about a test taxi meter installed in several carriages, attempting to allow the passenger to choose between a fixed price tour or a taximeter priced tour.
The last time I got to take a horse carriage tour in Lampang was in December 2018 and I haven’t seen any taxi meter, so I can’t tell what happened with that experiment. What I did see was a shiny statue of a horse carriage in local festivities – which highlights their centrality in the city life to date.
The Lampang Horse Carriages are one of Lampang’s famous, prominent symbols, and a tour across the city in a decorated horse carriage is an inseparable part of the visit.