Wat Luang, in the old town off Khum Lue Road (take the turning immediately north of Wat Phong Sunan), is thought to be Phrae's most ancient surviving temple, dating to as early as the ninth century and the town’s founding.
The style is more Lanna than Shan or Burmese, although if the ninth century date is true then it must originate during the Mon period. Though old, it’s in excellent condition. Original styles have been lost amid renovation work but there is an impressive octagonal, Chiang Saen-style chedi and the large Buddha image in the main worshipping hall is also of Chiang Saen design.
The oldest construction in appearance is a semi-ruined brick and oddly asymmetrical tower on the right of the compound as you enter, which according to tour information signs was originally one of the gates of the old city. Named Prathu Khong, it was intended for royalty only and is considered by locals today to house the spirits of former rulers and royal family members.
This is a simple and peaceful temple that's not really worth going out of your way for but fine as a stop on an old city walking tour. Lastly, a small museum on the premises has some interesting relics and weaponry on display. It's only officially open on Saturdays, but if you ask nicely monks may open it for you if they are not too busy.
By Mark Ord
Last updated on 16th December, 2015.