With an abundance of ancient wats and historic buildings scattered across a compact and relatively traffic-free area, the old town of Phrae lends itself to a scenic walking or cycling tour. Convenient for most of the town’s accommodation, we’ll start off at Prathu Chai, the walled city’s east gate and home to the evening night market. Heading up Rob Muang Road, which follows the city moat, ... Read more about Old town walking tour .
A fascinating new museum in Phrae’s old town, and one which complements neighbouring Wongburi House Museum, Khum Chao Luang is the former residence — palace if you wish — of the last lord (chao luang) of Phrae, Piriyathapawong. Phrae city was originally established as a province of the ancient Mon kingdom of Haripunchai (now Lamphun), and despite being at various times dependent on the more ... Read more about Khum Chao Luang Museum .
Wongburi (or Vongburi) House is a beautiful two-storey teak mansion built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and now open to the public as museum. Phrae royal genealogy has us somewhat confused but, if we’ve understood correctly, the mansion was the home of Luang Phongphibun and his wife Chao Nantha. Nantha was a princess of the Phrae royal family and Phongphibun was a noble who’d ... Read more about Wongburi House .
One of our favourite Thai walking street markets takes place in Phrae’s old town every Saturday from late afternoon through until mid-evening. Make sure you go with an empty stomach and don’t make any dinner arrangements for ... Read more about Saturday walking street market .
Lying on a low hill a few kilometres east of town, Wat Prathat Cho Hae is not only the province’s most prestigious temple but one of the most revered wats in North Thailand. As with Chiang Mai’s Doi Suthep, a local saying claims that if you haven’t visited Wat Prathat Cho Hae, you haven’t visited Phrae. As the title Prathat indicates, the main chedi is said to contain relics of Lord ... Read more about Wat Prathat Cho Hae and Prathat Doi Lang .
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 ... Read more about Wat Luang .
Located slightly to the northern end of the new town -- a short walk from Maeyom Palace -- this attractive wat was constructed by a group of migrant Tai Yai, or Shan, teak workers in the early 20th century and is regarded as one of the best examples of its kind remaining in Thailand. The main hall is in a very classic Shan style: all in teak, raised on stilts with a three-tiered roof and simple ... Read more about Wat Chom Sawan .
To the north of the new town, off Nam Khue Road opposite the moat and next to the telephone company office, is an elaborate Burmese-style wat named Sra Bor Kaew. This is another temple constructed for the benefit of Burmese workers who, coming to work in the local timber industry, had problems understanding the Thai monks. It dates to the late 19th or early 20th century, having originally been ... Read more about Wat Sra Bor Kaew .
This wat is located next door to Wongburi House, just before the side street leading to Wat Luang, and indeed was formerly the personal temple of the Wongburi family. Of an indeterminate date, the wat apparently lay in ruins before being restored by the aristocratic neighbours in 1929 whereupon it was renamed Phong Sunan in honour of Phong Phibun and Chao Sunanta, the owner and wife. ... Read more about Wat Phong Sunan .
Phae Meuang Phi is a geological curiosity: some two million years of erosion have sculpted relatively soft red sandstone into intriguing rock formations. Although images of it feature heavily in Phrae tourism literature, it’s not an uncommon phenomenon in northern Thailand and if you’ve seen Pai Canyon or Mae Wang National Park then maybe don’t bother with this one; indeed similar Sao Din ... Read more about Phae Mueang Phi Park .