Virtually enveloped by mountains and valleys, Phayao is a peaceful province. Though with only modest facilities and conveniences, it is an enchanting community with delightful natural beauty and fascinating religious sites. Dating back to more than 900 years, it used to be an independent state with its own rulers before it became a part of the Lanna Thai kingdom in mid-14th century.
Phayao is about 691 kilometres from Bangkok and covers an area of 6,335 square kilometres. Administrative, it is divided into the following districts: Muang, Chun, Chiang Kham, Chiang Muan, Dok Khamtai, Pong, Mae Chai, Phu Sang, and Phu Kam Yao.
How To Get There
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 32 and Highway No. 1 to Phayao via Ayutthaya, Ang Thong, Nakhon Sawan, Tak and Lampang, a total distance of 966 kilometres. For an alternative route, take Highway No. 1 to Amphoe Tak Fa via Saraburi, Lop Buri before turning into Highway No. 11 to Phrae via Phichit, Phitsanulok, Uttaradit, and then proceed to Phayao along Highways No. 101, No. 103 and No. 1.
Bus companies which operate daily bus services from Bangkok's Mochit 2 Bus Terminal to Phayao are such as Transport Co. Ltd Tel: 0 2936 2852-66, website: www.transport.co.th; Siam First Tour, Tel: 0 2954 3601, Sombat Tour, Tel: 0 2936 2495.
Visitors can take a regular train from Bangkok to Lampang or Chiang Mai, then connect a bus to Phayao. Call 1690 for more information.
Visitors can fly from Bangkok to Chiang Rai and then connect a bus to Phayao. Contact Thai Airways at Tel: 1566 for more information.
Chiang Kham district is home to many Thai Lue people, about 74 kilometres to the northeast of Phayao on Highway No. 1021. The Thai Lues originally were from the south of Yunnan in China and migrated to northern Thailand, particularly to Nan and Phayao, some 200 years ago.
An interesting temple in Chiang Kham is Wat Nantaram, a Burmese-style site built entirely with teak. The woodworks on the windows, gables, corridors and other parts are beautifully chiseled in elaborate designs.
Wat Phra That Sop Waen
Another place of interest in Chiang Kham is Wat Phra That Sop Waen. The temple houses a 700-year-old Lanna-style Chedi.
Ban Tham Indigenous Cultural Centre
This cultural centre is about 15 kilometres from the district town of Dok Khamtai on the way to Chiang Muan district. It has a large collection of native agricultural tools and implements as well as ancient objects from which the cultural lifestyle of the Lanna people in the past can be studied. One kilometre before the Centre is a park shaded by large trees with caves of hanging and protruding rock deposits.
Doi Phu Nang National Park
This national park is 48 kilometres south of Amphoe Dok Khamtai along Highway No. 1251 and 4 kilometres along an access road. A variety of birds are found, especially peacocks which come to the park area for breeding from January to March. The park also has a scenic waterfall called Namtok Than Sawan. Camping in the park is possible.
Ho Watanatham Nithat
Next to Wat Si Koam Kam is Ho Watanatham Nithat. The indigenous museum deals with the history and ancient relics of Phayao, including native culture and traditions and creativity. Open Wednesday-Sunday from nine in the morning to four in the afternoon.
An extensively fresh-water lake, Kwan Phayao is the largest fresh-water fish habitat in the upper North which provides the livelihood of many of the local people. The surrounding scenery, particularly at dusk, is stunning. Along the banks are located food-shops and recreation sites.
Namtok Champa Thong
Namtok Champa Thong is a beautiful and tall waterfall amid natural surroundings. It can be reached by taking the Phayao - Chiang Rai route. After reaching Km. 7, take a turn and proceed on for a further 16 kilometres.
Phayao Fresh-water Fishery Station
The Phayao Fresh-water Fishery Station, on Highway No. 1 in town, is the first facility in the world to successfully breed Pla Buk, the giant catfish. There is an aquarium displaying many species of fish and waterplants. Open during official working hours.
Pho Khun Ngam Mueang Memorial
The Pho Khun Ngam Mueang Memorial, located in the public park on the bank of Kwan Phayao, commemorates a former king of Phayao, or Phu Kam Yao, who was in power some 700 years ago. During his reign, the state prospered and expanded its territory. As a close ally of King Mengrai, the ruler of Chiang Rai, and King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai, they formed an alliance of harmony, loyalty and non-aggression.
About 7 kilometres north of town on Highway No.1 and further 9 kilometres after a left turn is a hilltop temple, Wat Ananlayo. Covering an extensive area, cool and shady under leafy canopies of large trees it features building and sculptures of religion-based characters by contemporary craftsmen of great skill. From here an expansive view of Kwan Phayao, the fields and the town is visible.
Wat Phra That Chomthong
Wat Phra That Chomthong, just opposite Wat Si Khom Kham, can be reached by the 1.5-kilometre-long uphill road. Surrounded by an arboretum, the temple offers a panoramic view of the town and the lake.
Wat Si Khom Kham
Wat Si Khom Kham is a temple located on the bank of Kwan Phayao. It houses the largest Buddha statue of Lanna Thai, Phra Chao Ton Luang, a sitting Buddha with a lap width of 14 meters and height of 16 meters. It is said that it took no less than 33 years to complete it. Celebrations are held every May.
Wat Si Umong Kham
The Chiang Saen-style Chedi at Wat Si Umong Kham is still in good condition. The Lanna-style Buddha statue, Phra Chao Lan Tue, is regarded as the most beautiful anywhere.
Five kilometres from the Phu Sang waterfall is a village on the Thai-Laotian border. On the 10th and 30th of every month, Ban Huak hold a bazaar for Thais and Laotians to trade and barter their products.
Namtok Phu Sang National Park
Namtok Phu Sang is a scenic waterfall about 20 kilometres to the north of the district town of Chiang Kham on Highway No. 1093. The surroundings are still in perfect natural condition. Phu Sang is different than other waterfalls. It is fed by a hot spring on the mountain which flows into the brook before cascading over the fall.