An old and important community of Northern Thailand, Phrae was founded after Chiang Mai had been established as the capital of the Lanna Thai kingdom. With one of the largest reserves of teak forests in the country, it is located on the banks of the Yom River, 555 kilometres from Bangkok.
Covering an area about 6,538 square kilometres and surrounded on all sides by mountains with level plains in the middle, Phrae is administratively divided into the following districts: Muang, Sung Men, Den Chai, Long, Wang Chin, Song, Rong Kwang and Nong Muang Khai
How To Get There
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 and Highway No. 11 to Phrae via Nakhon Sawan, Phichit, Phitsanulok and Uttaradit.
Transport Co. Ltd. operates regular buses to Phrae at 10 a.m. and 10.30 p.m.. The buses leave Mochit 2 Bus Terminal everyday. For more information, call 0 2936 2852-66 or visit www.transport.co.th. Private bus companies are such as Choet Chai Tour; Tel: 0 2936 0199, Phrae Tour, Tel: 0 2936 3720, Sombat Tour, Tel: 0 2936 2496.
Thai Airways flies directly from Bangkok to Phrae on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and also operates Bangkok-Phitsanulok-Phra-Nan flights on other days. Call 1566 or visit www.thaiairways.com for more information.
Kin Salak Fair
The Kin Salak Fair is an old Buddhist merit-making event. Villagers prepare offerings and carry them in procession to present to the monks. The fair is held around September yearly.
Phra That Cho Hae Fair
The Phra That Cho Hae Fair, held in around March, involves a procession to carry robes to cover the Chedi. The procession follows the Lanna style. All participants are decked out in traditional Lanna attires.
Mo Hom is a well-known hand-crafter material made in Phrae. Considered a quality product, it is made mainly at Ban Ton Hong using traditional methods in the weaving, dyeing and tailoring processes.
Another famous product is Pha Tin Chok, a fine and well-made material with distinctive design Apart from being widely used as material to make dresses, today it is also used to make items such as hand-bags, shoes, household decorative items, etc. The main production centre is in Long, Wang Chin and Den Chai districts.
Wat Phra That Suthon Mongkhon Khiri
Three kilometres from Den Chai district, or some 2 kilometres from the provincial town, is Wat Phra That Suthon Mongkhon Khiri. Although a comparatively modern temple, it boasts highly eye-catching structures. The Ubosot in particular is noted for its delicate sculptures with fine designs.
There is also the golden teak structure in the Lanna-style which houses valuable relics of the North, including Buddha statues, lacquerware, Lanna musical instruments, ancient weapons and pictures depicting past events.
Fabric Weaving Village
Long District, some 45 kilometres the provincial town on Highway No. 1023, is the site of a centuries-old community since the time of Hariphunchai Period. The local people are skilled in the craft of weaving, both silk and cotton. The art of making the Tin Chok fabric in particular has been handed down from generation to generation.
Its design has also been developed to meet with new and different preferences, although the original method has been retained. A fair celebrating the Tin Chok is held annually in Long district around November.
Kaeng Luang Rafting
A leading attraction, Kaeng Luang is located in Tambon Ban Pin, Long district. To get there, go on the Phrae-Lampang road for about 50 kilometres, then take a right turn at Km.69 and continue on for another 7 kilometres. The scenery is lovely and amid the Yom river are rocky formations which create fast-flowing rapids.
On the other side of the river, which can be crossed by ferry, and with a 100-metre walk uphill, will be found the Erawan Cave adorned with elephant-and-female-shaped hanging and protruding crops of rock.
Wat Phra That Si Don Kham
There is a huge gold Chedi housing a Holy Relic at Wat Phra That Si Don Kham. Legend has it that it was built as early as 535 A.D. when the land was under the dominance of the Hariphunchai kingdom.
Ban Fai Folklore Museum
The Folklore Museum, in the same compound as the Ban Fai garden restaurant three kilometres from town on the Phrae-Sung Men road, is made up of several buildings and wooden structures displaying exhibits on the local way of life. The different types of wooden houses demonstrate the different statuses of the local people. There are also market and shop-houses of the past.
Ban Pong Si
Ban Pong Si at Tambon Thin of Muang district is a village which collects and exchanges second-hand household utensils for daily use. It also sells silver products.
Ban Rong Fong
Ban Rong Fong specialises in making metal agricultural tools using traditional production method. The village can be reached by taking Highway No.101 (Phrae-Nan) with a turn into Highway No. 1101 leading to Rong Fong.
Ban Thung Hong
About 4 kilometres away on Highway No. 101 (Phrae-Nan) is Ban Thung Hong, a village noted for the making of products made from Mo Hom material. It is a local cotton fabric dyed in blue which is used in making native and modern wears.
City Pillar Shrine
The City Pillar Shrine of Phrae, situated on Khum Deom Road in town centre, features an inscription stone with ancient Thai scripts of the Sukhothai period describing the construction of a temple in the town.
Hua Dong Market
About 9 kilometres to the south of town on Highway No. 101 in Sung Men district is the Hua Dong Market. It is the centre of products made from wood and rattan, mostly household furnitures and decorative items.
Phae Mueang Phi
About 12 kilometres out of town, and with a further 6 kilometres after a right turn, is the Phae Muang Phi, a wide area with no large trees. Because of subsidence and erosion of the soil, the harder elements remain and are formed into the shapes of exotic-looking mushrooms.
Phraya Chaiyabun Memorial
The Phraya Chaiyabun Memorial is about four kilometres from the Phrae townhall on Highway No. 101. Governor of the town during 1897-1902, he was slain by rebelling Shan tribesmen when he refused to cede the town to them. After the rebellion was put down by government troops, King Rama V ordered a memorial erected in his honors.
Wat Chom Sawan
Just one kilometre from the townhall on Yantrakit Koson Road is Wat Chom Sawan, a Burmese architectural style temple. The building which combines the hall for conducting religious rituals and monk's living quarters is beautifully decorated both in its interiors and exteriors.
The over-lapping roofs are adorned with fine fretworks. Antiquities found here include marble Buddha statues, statues made of woven bamboos coated with lacquer, and Buddha statues made from ivory, as well as ivory scripture slabs with Burmese scripts.
Wat Luang on Kham Lue Road in town is an ancient and principal temple built at the same time Phrae was established. Several restoration works have taken place. Some of its major features include the Vihan and Chiang Saen-style Chedi enshrining a Holy Relic brought over from Myanmar. Others are the museum housing various antiquities including several 500-year-old Buddha statues and an ancient Lanna-style wooden structure.
Wat Phra Bat Ming Mueang
Wat Phra Bat Ming Muang, located on Charoen Nakhon Road near the townhall, was built in 1955 by combining two ancient temples. There is an old Chedi containing a replica of the Holy Footprint inside.
Wat Phra Non
To the west of Wat Luang is Wat Phra Non near the site of the old city walls. Some of the architectural works include the Chiang Saen-style Ubosot with narrow openings to let in light instead of normal windows. The lintel is made of wood with graceful designs. The eaves over the Vihan are all fretted, a symbol of northern architecture. Inside is a 9 metre-long plaster Reclining Buddha.
Wat Phra That Cho Hae
This temple is about 8 kilometres to the east of town on Highway No. 1022. A major religious site of the province, it was built since the time of Sukhothai. The 33 metre-tall Chiang Saen-style Chedi houses a Holy Relic. It was built of bricks and covered with bright brass sheets. The name of the temple refers to fine silk woven in Sip Song Panna (in southern China) which was first used to wrap around the Chedi when the temple was first constructed. There is a fair celebrating the Chedi in March every year.
Wat Phra That Chom Chaeng
Three kilometres from Phra That Cho Hae is Wat Phra That Chom Chaeng, some 10 kilometres from town. Built in the year 788, the name of the builder was unknown. The golden Chedi is 29 metres tall and enshrines a Holy Relic. There is also a museum of rare ancient relics.
Wat Sa Bo Kaeo
Located on Nam Khu Road next to the city moats is Wat Sa Bo Kaeo, a temple with several exotic Burmese artistic-styled structures and Buddha statues. It is also where Burmese monks who travel to Thailand to study the Buddhist scripture stay.
Namtok Huai Rong
Amid cool forested area is the Huai Rong Waterfall. It can be reached by taking Highway No. 101 (Phrae-Rong Kwang) and go on for 60 kilometres northward. Turn left at Km. 78 and proceed on for a further 4 kilometres.
Tham Pha Nang Khoi
Another interesting cave is Tham Pha Nang Khoi which is about 40 kilometres north of town on Highway No. 101 at Km. 59 within Rong Kwang district. A 50 metre-long rail leads to the cave mouth. Along the winding tunnels are strangely-shaped stalactites and stalagmites.
At the end of the cave is a stalagmite shaped like a woman holding a small child. In front of the Nang Koi (waiting woman) stone is a heart-shaped stalactite. They are the source of the legend of the love of a woman who waited for her lover until she turned into stone.o:p>
Mae Yom National Park
The Mae Yom National Park is in Song district 48 kilometres from town. The terrain is mountainous with deciduous and rich teak forests, probably the densest in the country. Along the Yom River in front of the camping area of the park are the Kaeng Sua Ten rapids, a two-kilometre-long stretch of rock formations and best visited during November-February when the weather is cool and the scenery at its loveliest. Visitors may camp along the river banks.o:p>
Phra That Phra Lo
This is a 400-year-old Chedi believed to contain the remains of a king named Phra Lo, ruler of Nakhon Maen Suang once located in the vicinity. It is said he died together with his two lovers, Phra Phuean and Phra Phaeng, which gave rise to the legend of a folklore. The Chedi itself is at Tambon Ban Klang, Song district on Highway No. 103 some 45 kilometres north of the provincial town.
Wiang Kosai National Park
The Wiang Kosai National Park is about 70 kilometres from the provincial town in Wang Chin district. It can be reached by taking Highway No. 11 (Phrae-Lampang). Then take a left turn toward Wang Chin district and continue for a further 13 kilometres to reach the turn to the park headquarters.
A further 1.5 kilometres onwards are two waterfalls, the Mae Koeng Luang, one kilometer from the headquarters, and the Mae Koeng Noi, 2 kilometres on foot further on. Streams from the falls flow into the Yom River.