Little Phrae has its own airport with a daily Nok Air flight to Bangkok’s Don Muang. When we checked the flight left at 14:40, though prices varied enormously depending upon day of the week and time of booking -- it was between 871 baht for a Thursday departure to more than 3,000 baht for a last-minute Sunday one. The average was around 1,800 baht, but best to check with Nok Air. Phrae airport’s code is PHR.
An airport taxi desk in the small airport concourse will provide you with a lift to anywhere in the centre of town for 100 baht while some hotels, such as Phoomthai, offer free airport pick-ups.
Phrae Airport enquiries: (054) 522 706.
There’s no station in Phrae town itself and the closest is in Den Chai district, around 20 kilometres south. This is on the main Bangkok-Chiang Mai line and all trains stop here.
Official times for Den Chai to Chiang Mai, stopping at Khun Tan, Lampang and Lamphun are as follows, though bear in mind the trains have come all the way from Bangkok so don’t expect the arrival times to be exact:
15:24, 23:42, 02:51, 04:19, 07:20 and 10:13.
Travel time to Chiang Mai is approximately four hours.
For Bangkok via Phitsanolok, Nakorn Sawan, Lopburi and so on, trains depart Den Chai at:
10:46, 12:39, 14:19, 20:26, 21:41, 22:36.
Two additional trains originate in Den Chai at 07:30 and 19:05. These take seven to 10 hours depending upon the kind of train doing the trip.
Phrae/Den Chai railway station enquiries: (054) 613 260.
Phrae has good connections north to various stops in Nan province, south to Uttaradit, Phitsanolok and all stops to Bangkok, northwest to Phayao and Chiang Rai and west to Lampang and Chiang Mai.
Several companies serve Bangkok while as usual Green Bus is your best bet for most northern destinations. Win Tours offer minibus services to nearby provinces. Below are sample schedules and prices but as usual times and prices can change at short notice so check at the conveniently located bus station off Yantarakit Kosol Road.
The government-run 999 company have Bangkok buses departing daily at 20:30 and 20:45. 1st class tickets cost 394 baht while they have a second 20:30, VIP, bus costing 613 baht. Sombat Tour also have a 20:30, 394 baht bus though their VIP one at 21:00 is suspiciously cheap at 460 baht. They do offer a morning departure (11:00) as well, also at 394 baht, while Nakorn Chai Air have an 11:00 departure costing 460 baht.
Green Bus is the best bet for more local destinations, with regular departures throughout the day on all regional routes. Chiang Mai costs 176 baht, Lampang 152, Lamphun 101 and Nan 104. In addition there are 2 daily VIP services on the Chiang Mai route leaving at 08:00 and 13:00 for 274 baht.
Slightly faster but not always so comfortable are minibus services also leaving from Phrae main bus station and servicing surrounding provinces such as Chiang Rai, Phayao, Nan, Uttaradit and Phitsanolok. North-bound ones continue past Nan city to Pua and the Lao border at Huay Kon while all southbound minibuses will stop at Den Chai train station. The former are scheduled five times per day and the latter nine times but check the Win Tour counter at the bus station for full details at time of travelling. Examples of fares as of December 2015 are: Chiang Rai 147 baht, Phayao 97 baht, Nan 83 baht, Den Chai 17 baht and Phitsanolok 113 baht.
Phrae bus station enquiries: (054) 511 800
Sombat Tours: (054) 511 421
Green Bus Thailand: (054) 522 780
999 (govt bus): (054) 511 276
Minibus services: (054) 775 229, (081) 884 3998
The centre of Phrae is compact and easily done on foot, which is convenient since there’s not a lot of practical town public transport. Tuk tuks haven’t made it to Phrae yet though cycle rickshaws are still commonly seen. As locals informed us, the machines are as old as the drivers and it’s neither the most convenient nor reliable way to get around. A short ride around the centre ought to cost 50 or 60 baht. Otherwise there are motorbike taxis and regular songthaews heading from downtown to outlying districts.
Den Chai-bound songthaews leave from outside the Phrae Vocational College on Yantarakit Kosol Road and Cho Hae ones from behind the municipal market.
Several hotels and guesthouses offer bicycles and motorbikes for rent.