Lampang’s Horse Carriages

Lampang is the only town in Thailand that still has horse carriages as a means of transportation and hence has acquired the nickname of Muang Rot Ma (Horse Car City). Today, there are about 75 horse driven carriages currently in use, primarily in the tourism sector. This number has dwindled since their heyday in the 1950s when there were apparently 185 carriages in operation.

Horse carriages first made their appearance in Thailand approximately a century ago. The first horse-drawn carriage arrived in Lampang in 1916 at the same time as the railway. The owner of the first carriage was Lampang’s last hereditary feudal Northern Thai ruler, Chao Boonyawat Wongmanit. He hired an Indian driver from Bangkok to drive his carriage about the city.

There is debate as to the origins of Lampang’s horse carriages. One theory is that the horse carriages were imported from Bangkok from Portuguese traders who acquired them via Macau. It is more likely that the original carriages came from colonial Burma. Lampang was an important center of teak industry in the early 20th century which saw an influx of migrants from British-controlled Burma, particular Burmese teak merchants. One can still travel by horse carriage in the small Burmese hill station of Maymyo near Mandalay.

The first style of horse carriages in Lampang are known as “Queen Victoria”. Each has four wheels with two big seats at the back and two additional seats upon request. They can carry four people. The smaller and newer version was developed by Khun Uthankhadee in 1949.  A few years later, Chao Boonsong Na Lampang acquired the only Rot Ma (horse car) concession to operate horse carriages in Lampang. Horse carriages are still made locally in Lampang and can be custom made with their iron wheels or the more traditional wood spokes if desired.

Some videos I found on youtube from Lampang via Rot Ma. Enjoy

Text  copyright © Marti Patel / http://www.sanuksanuk.wordpress 2011

Text  copyright © Marti Patel / http://www.sanuksanuk.wordpress 2011

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