The city is spread out over 4 km, between the airport at the north end of the town and the bus station at the Southern one. Its historical and commercial centre is more compact, following a north-south orientation along the right bank of the River Nan. The two main axes of the town, more or less parallel, are the Thanon Sumonthewarat (easternmost /closest to the river) and Thanon Mahayot.
The city’s principal monuments are located at the junction of three parallel streets;
…and the Th Suriyapong which runs at right angles to them. The main shopping area is located along Thanon Sumonthewarat and Thanon Anantaworattidet.
Within the town on Nan there are three bridges providing a connection between right and left banks of the river Nan;
Nan lies on the eastern edge of the ancient Lanna kingdom, near the Lao border. Historically, the physical setting of the Nan region comprised the Nan river, running north-south, and the valley flanked by the mountains to either side. Because of its relative isolation, the Nan region was not fully incorporated into the modern Siamese state until 1931.
Even today, its population is largely rural and its cultural traditions are reflective of the large numbers of Tai Lue people who settled here over the course of the past two hundred years. In the early days, much of the Tai Lue population was brought in forcibly from Sipsangpanna (today, the southernmost district of Yunnan, China, known in pinyin as Xishuangbanna) by various local rulers. In the twentieth century, voluntary migration from Yunnan continued as late as the 1950s. In both town and countryside, the influence of Tai Lue culture is distinctly evident, and may be glimpsed in nearly all the buildings profiled above.