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 on the banks of the Yom River, 555 km from Bangkok. It covers an area of about 6,538 square kilometres and surrounded on all sides by mountains with level plains in the middle.
The bus station is at the north end of Yantarakitkoson Rd. You can take the train to Den Chai and take a songthaew to Phrae.
There are many old buildings in Phrae. Try to get the Historic buildings of Phrae map if you can find it.
- Khum Chao Luang, Khumderm Rd. Old teak house, where the king and queen stayed when they visited Phrae. Free.
- Old City Wall. There isn't much left of it, but you can see where it used to be along portions of the moat.
- Wongburi (Vongburi) House, Wichairacha Rd. 09:00-17:00. Old teak house. 30 baht.
- 1 Phae Muang Phi Forest Park (วนอุทยานแพะเมืองผี). Phae Mueang Phi is 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.
- Phra That Phra Lo (พระธาตุพระลอ) 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.
- Wat Luang (วัดหลวง) Some of its major features include the viharn 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.
- To the west of Wat Luang is Wat Phra Non (วัดพระนอน) 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. Inside is a nine metre-long plaster reclining Buddha.
- Wat Phra Bat Ming Mueang (วัดพระบาทมิ่งเมือง) was built in 1955 by combining two ancient temples. There is an old chedi containing a replica of the holy footprint inside.
- The City Pillar Shrine of Phrae (ศาลหลักเมืองแพร่) features an inscription stone with ancient Thai scripts of the Sukhothai period describing the construction of a temple in the town.
- Wat Sa Bo Kaeo (วัดสระบ่อแก้ว) is 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.
- Wat Chom Sawan (วัดจอมสวรรค์), a Burmese-style temple. 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.
- Ban Thung Hong (บ้านทุ่งโฮ้ง), a village noted for the making of products made from Mo Hom (ม่อฮ่อม) material. It is a local cotton fabric dyed in blue which is used in making native and modern clothing.
- Ban Rong Fong (บ้านร่องฟอง) specialises in making metal agricultural tools using traditional methods.
- Ban Pong Si (บ้านโป่งศรี) at tambon Thin of mueang district is a village which collects and exchanges second-hand household utensils for daily use.
- A small, two-level waterfall, Namtok Mae Khaem (น้ำตกแม่แคม) is in Tambon Suan Khuan. There is another fall, larger and with three levels, in the vicinity. It is Namtok Tat Mok (น้ำตกตาดหมอก), which is about 22 kilometres from town.
- Wat Phra That Cho Hae (วัดพระธาตุช่อแฮ) is a major religious site of the province. It was built in the time of Sukhothai. The 33 metre-tall Chiang Saen-style chedi housed a holy relic. It was built of bricks and covered with bright brass sheets.
- Wat Phra That Chom Chaeng (วัดพระธาตุจอมแจ้ง) is a golden chedi that is 29 metres tall and enshrined a holy relic. There is also a museum of rare ancient relics.
- Phraya Chaiyabun Memorial (อนุสาวรีย์พระยาไชยบูรณ์) honors the man who was 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 honour.
- Folklore Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์พื้นบ้าน), in the same compound as the Ban Fai Garden Restaurant (สวนอาหารบ้านฝ้าย), is made up of several buildings and wooden structures displaying the local way of life. The different types of wooden houses demonstrate the different status of the local people.
- Hua Dong Market (ตลาดหัวดง) is the centre of products made from wood and rattan, mostly household furniture and decorative items.
- Wat Phra Luang (วัดพระหลวง) features a Sukhothai-style chedi and is referred to by the local people as "That Neong" (ธาตุเนิ้ง), meaning the leaning chedi.
- Wat Phra That Suthon Mongkhon Khiri (วัดพระธาตุสุโทนมงคลคีรี) 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, lacquer ware, Lanna musical instruments, ancient weapons, and pictures depicting past events.
- Kaeng Luang (แก่งหลวง) On the other side of the river is found the Tham Erawan (ถ้ำเอราวัณ) adorned with elephant-and-female-shaped hanging and protruding crops of rock.
- [formerly dead link] Wiang Kosai National Park (Midway between Phrae and Lampang), ☏ . This park is not well-known. It has a beautiful 7 tiered waterfall.
- The Phra That Cho Hae Fair (งานประเพณีนมัสการพระธาตุช่อแฮ), held 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 attire.
- Doklomlaengban Songkran Muangphrae Nung Mohhom Tae Ngam Ta or Songkran Festival in Phrae is held on 13–17 April every year at Chareun Muang Road, Yantarakit Kosol Road and around the city.
- Komol Ancient Fabric Museum (Opposite Long Witthaya School, Long), ☏ . Ancient fabrics and modern versions for sale.
- Mo Hom (ม่อฮ่อม) is a well-known hand-crafted fabric made in Phrae. Considered a quality product, using traditional methods in the weaving, dyeing and tailoring processes.
- Another famous product is Pha Tin Chok (ผ้าตีนจก), a fine and well-made fabric 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, and household decorative items.
- Ban Suan Restaurant, Yantarakitkoson Rd (5 min walk S of Charoen Meuang Rd on the E side), ☏ . 10:00-22:00. The Thai chef cooks up Thai and Chinese food. The chef and his wife both speak some English and an English menu is in the works.
- Vegan Food for Health, Charoenmuang Rd (Near Namkhue Rd, near the moat), ☏ . 09:30-21:00. Brown rice, health drinks, etc. Has English/Thai/picture menu and English speaking staff.
- Nakhorn Phrae Hotel, 69 Ratchadamnoen Rd (Just east of Rong Saw Rd), ☏ . Double, fan, cable TV, free Wi-Fi, hot water, private bath. 290 baht.
- Paradorn Hotel, 177 Yantrakitkoson Rd (Near the BKS bus station), ☏ . Fan, cable TV, hot water, private bath, large clean room. 350 baht.
- Tepwiman Hotel, 31-37 Sribanrung Rd (SE of the moat, SE of Rongso Rd/Namkhue Rd)). Has very helpful English-speaking staff.
- Thepvong Place (On a quiet soi, in the heart of Phrae, easy walking distance to the Night Market). 250 baht.
- Punjen Hide-Away turn off 5km after Wiang Kosai National Park. This small resort has 3 cabins with 2 bedrooms and private bathrooms, small kitchen area, and sitting area. It is next to the Saloke River, so you can listen to the sound of running water from your terrace. They have both bed and breakfast or a unique village tour over 3 days/2 nights.