Phayao: The Ultimate Guide (2024)

Phayao, a picturesque gem nestled in the heart of Northern Thailand, offers visitors a serene escape from the bustling city life. Surrounded by lush mountains, Phayao’s main attraction is the tranquil Phayao Lake, or Kwan Phayao, providing a stunning backdrop for leisurely strolls or cycling along its scenic promenade. Discover the region’s rich cultural and historical heritage through visits to ancient temples, such as Wat Si Khom Kham and Wat Analayo Thipphayaram, showcasing exquisite Lanna and Thai Yai architectural styles. Dive deeper into local customs and traditions by exploring bustling markets and sampling delectable Northern Thai cuisine. For those seeking a blend of nature, history, and local charm, Phayao proves to be an enchanting destination off the beaten path.

Kwan Phayao Lake

Kwan Phayao

Kwan Phayao Lake, a serene expanse in the heart of Northern Thailand, stands as a testament to the tranquil beauty and cultural richness that defines the region. For a seasoned traveler like myself, the allure of Kwan Phayao is not just in its picturesque landscape, but in the deep connection it offers with local life and nature. This large freshwater lake, the fourth biggest in Thailand, serves as a vital resource for the communities around it and is a hub of biodiversity, supporting a myriad of aquatic species.

As I explore the area, I am captivated by the peaceful rhythm of life here. The lake, especially at sunrise or sunset, offers a breathtaking spectacle, with the sky’s vibrant hues mirrored on the water’s calm surface. The lakeside is bustling with activity; fishermen skillfully casting their nets, locals enjoying leisurely evening walks, and street vendors selling an array of local delicacies that are a delight to any culinary enthusiast. The lake’s ecosystem also supports an abundant bird population, making it a haven for birdwatchers.

The cultural aspect of Kwan Phayao is equally fascinating. The area around the lake is dotted with ancient temples and shrines, each telling a story of the region’s rich history and spiritual significance. The most iconic is the submerged temple, visible only in the dry season, which becomes a focal point of local folklore and intrigue. Visiting Kwan Phayao, therefore, is not just a journey through stunning landscapes, but also a foray into the heart of Northern Thai culture, steeped in history and brimming with life.

The word “Kwan” in the local dialect means “central point”. The lake is so called because it is the center of 18 rivers flowing from the western Phi Pan Nam mountain range.

Wat Tilok Aram

Wat Tilok Aram

Wat Tilok Aram is a significant historical and cultural site located in Kwan Phayao, a large freshwater lake in Phayao Province, Northern Thailand. This ancient temple, dating back to the 15th century, holds a unique place in Thai history due to its intriguing location – it lies submerged beneath the waters of Kwan Phayao.

Originally built during the reign of King Tilokkarat of the Lanna Kingdom, Wat Tilok Aram was an active center of Buddhism and played a crucial role in the religious and cultural life of the region. However, in the 20th century, the construction of a dam for irrigation and flood control led to the creation of Kwan Phayao Lake, which resulted in the temple being submerged.

What makes Wat Tilok Aram particularly fascinating is that it’s not just an underwater relic; during the dry season, when the water level drops, parts of the temple become visible. This phenomenon adds a mystical allure to the site, drawing both local devotees and curious travelers. The temple’s partial submersion has created a unique underwater habitat, which has also attracted the interest of divers and naturalists.

For travelers, especially those with a keen interest in history and archaeology, Wat Tilok Aram offers a rare glimpse into the past. It’s a reminder of the ever-changing landscape of human civilization and the intricate interplay between cultural heritage and natural environments. The site is a testament to the resilience of cultural monuments and their ability to tell stories, even from beneath the waters.

If you are traveling through northern Thailand for a few days and have not yet decided on the sights you want to see, look at our online travel guide What to see in Chiang Mai.

Wat Phra That Chom Thong

Wat Phra That Chom Thong Phayao

Wat Phra That Chom Thong is a notable Buddhist temple located in Phayao, Northern Thailand. This temple, steeped in history and spiritual significance, is an essential destination for those exploring the cultural and religious tapestry of Thailand.

One of the main features of Wat Phra That Chom Thong is its chedi (or stupa), which is believed to enshrine a relic of the Buddha. This makes the temple an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. The chedi, typically adorned in gold or covered with golden tiles, stands as a majestic and serene symbol of the Buddhist faith, often attracting devotees and visitors who come to pay their respects and seek blessings.

The architecture of Wat Phra That Chom Thong is a reflection of the classic Lanna style, characterized by intricate wood carvings, elegant Lanna-style roofs, and beautiful murals. The temple complex typically includes a viharn (assembly hall), a ubosot (ordination hall), and other structures typical of Thai temple layouts. These buildings are often adorned with traditional Thai art, representing various Buddhist stories and teachings.

Surrounding the temple, the atmosphere is usually peaceful and serene, offering a space for quiet contemplation and meditation. The temple grounds are often beautifully maintained, with lush gardens and sometimes, ponds or small water features that add to the tranquility of the place.

For visitors, Wat Phra That Chom Thong is not just a religious site but also a place of cultural and historical interest. It provides insights into the religious practices, architectural styles, and artistic expressions of the Lanna Kingdom, which had a significant influence in Northern Thailand. This temple is a must-visit for those interested in Buddhism, Thai culture, art, and architecture.

Wat Huai Pha Kiang

Wat Huai Pha Kiang

Huai Pha Kiang Temple, nestled in the embrace of nature and situated less than ten kilometers north of Kwan Phayao Lake, stands as a serene sanctuary of worship. This temple is distinguished not just by its tranquil setting but by its unique feature – the rock carvings that embody the extraordinary creativity of Northern Thailand. These sculptures, subtly integrated into the rocks, are a testament to the region’s rich artistic heritage. They aren’t immediately noticeable as they reside beneath the temple complex, inviting a closer, more thoughtful exploration.

Upon arriving at the temple, visible from the parking area, you are greeted by a pavilion that houses profound spiritual symbols: a footprint of the Buddha and an impressively long reclining Buddha statue. These are just the initial glimpses of what the temple has to offer. As you venture further into the complex, you uncover the hidden rock sculptures, each telling a story and contributing to the narrative tapestry of Thai Buddhism and local folklore.

The temple’s location and its artistic treasures make it more than just a place of worship; it’s a journey into the heart of Thai culture and spirituality. Huai Pha Kiang Temple offers a unique experience that goes beyond the conventional temple visit, inviting visitors to engage with and appreciate the depth and diversity of Thailand’s cultural expressions.

Wat Huai Pha Kiang remains an unknown place of worship, you will have every chance to be there alone.

Pho Khun Ngam Muang Monument

Pho Khun Ngam Muang Monument

Pho Khun Ngam Muang monument is the holy memorial of the ninth king of the Phukamyao Kingdom. During his reign, he brought prosperity to his state. He was powerful and a kind-hearted king. Since then, he has gained lots of respect from people until now. Pho Khun Ngam Muang monument is a popular place for locals and visitors to worship and honor his legacy.

Phu Langka Forest Park

Phu Lang Ka Forest Park

Phu Langka Forest Park (วนอุทยานภูลังกา) is a captivating natural reserve, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and diverse ecosystem. This forest park is a treasure trove for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of urban life. It’s a place where the beauty of nature is on full display, offering a serene and rejuvenating experience for visitors.

The park’s terrain is a diverse tapestry of lush forests, rugged hills, and scenic viewpoints, providing a haven for a wide range of flora and fauna. Hiking through Phu Langka Forest Park, you’re likely to encounter a variety of wildlife and an abundance of plant species, some of which are unique to this region. The trails wind through dense forests, leading to spectacular vantage points where the views are nothing short of awe-inspiring. For those who relish a good hike, the park offers a range of trails, from easy walks to more challenging treks, each unveiling different aspects of the park’s natural beauty.

One of the highlights of Phu Langka Forest Park is its birdwatching opportunities. The park is a hotspot for bird enthusiasts, home to numerous species of birds, some of which are rare and exotic. The early morning or late afternoon hours are particularly magical, as the forest comes alive with the melodies of its avian inhabitants.

For photographers and nature lovers, the park provides endless opportunities to capture stunning landscapes and wildlife. The combination of its natural beauty, peaceful atmosphere, and the richness of its biodiversity makes Phu Langka Forest Park a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the region. It’s a place where you can truly connect with nature, find solace in its tranquility, and be reminded of the simple yet profound beauty of the natural world.

Magic Mountain Café

Magic Mountain Cafe

Magic Mountain Café offers a unique and enchanting experience that combines great food with breathtaking views. Perched in a scenic location, this café is not just about satisfying your taste buds, but also about immersing you in a tranquil and picturesque setting.

The café’s design and ambiance are thoughtfully crafted to complement the natural beauty of its surroundings. Large windows or an open terrace often provide panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, allowing diners to gaze out over lush valleys, rolling hills, or dense forests while they enjoy their meal. The setting is ideal for those moments when you want to unwind, sip on a coffee or a refreshing drink, and simply soak in the peace and beauty of nature.

On the menu, you can expect a delightful array of options, often including both local and international cuisine. The focus is usually on freshness and quality, with many cafés like Magic Mountain sourcing ingredients locally to support the community and ensure a true taste of the region. Whether it’s a hearty breakfast, a light lunch, or a relaxing evening meal, the café is designed to cater to a variety of preferences.

Moreover, Magic Mountain Café often becomes a hub for travelers and locals alike, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It’s a place where stories are shared, new friendships are formed, and the simple joys of life are celebrated. Whether you’re a solo traveler, with family, or a group of friends, the café offers a memorable experience that goes beyond just dining. It’s about enjoying the moment, in a setting that’s as magical as it is serene.

Phu Sang National Park

Phu Sang National Park

Phu Sang National Park, covering more than 280 square kilometers, shares a 30-kilometer border with Laos. Its dense forests are home to valuable plants such as golden teak, Burmese padauk, and Cedrela odorata. In addition, the mountains in the nature park are the source of many rivers that supply water to the agricultural land of Phayao and Chiang Rai provinces.

Also, the park’s pristine ecosystems are home to a rare and endangered species of turtle known as the Siamese bighead turtle. Their long tails and large heads that don’t fit into their shells make them vulnerable to frequent wildfires. Visitors to the park can spot these turtles at night near waterfalls and rivers, where crystal-clear water flows year-round. Other natural attractions include hot springs, inviting waterfalls, caves, and limestone mountains.

But, of course, the most famous point of attraction here is Phu Sang Waterfall, which originates from the mountainous underground hot springs of Doi Pha Mon, and fills a pool of warm, clear water in which you can soak when you visit this place. It is truly relaxing and takes your mind off the mundane.

Doi Phu Nang National Park

Doi Phu Nang National Park

Doi Phu Nang National Park has a total area of 537,424 rai (1 rai = 1600sqm). You will find Than Sawan waterfall, Huai Ton Phueng waterfall, and Pang Nung cave within the park. This place is also famous for its peacocks living in the forests, which you can see when you visit.

The first highlight of the place is the famous Than Sawan waterfall, a medium-sized, four-tiered limestone waterfall formed by several mountain streams that gush into a clear emerald stream surrounded by a mixed forest. Many tourists come here to play in the water or have a family picnic while enjoying this place’s cool and shady atmosphere.

The next nice attraction of this place is the Huai Ton Phueng Waterfall – a small limestone waterfall that is an essential source of water for the villagers of the nearby area who use the water from this spring for farming.

You will also see the Pang Nung Cave, with 5 halls that can accommodate up to 400 tourists and is filled with crystallized stalagmites and stalactites that shine beautifully when the sunlight hits them.

And, of course, visit the Dinosaur Kangluang Forest Park, where the bones of the Sauropodomorpha dinosaur found here in 2022 are on display. This site is the only dinosaur site in Northern Thailand.

Wat Si Khom Kham

Wat Si Khom Kham

Si Khom Kham temple is commonly called Wat Phra Chao Ton Luang, a name it owes to the famous Buddha statue named Pra Chao Ton Luang (พระเจ้าตนหลวง).

Placed inside the viharn, it was built of a mixture of brick and lime in the year 2034 according to the Buddhist calendar, or 1491 according to the Gregorian calendar. It took thirty-three years to build it! Sixteen to eighteen meters tall, depending on the source, Phra Chao Ton Luang is the most monumental historical giant Buddha in northern Thailand. In addition to its imposing size and unique appearance, it is also considered the most sacred Buddha statue in Phayao province.

It is also an iconic Buddha that attracts people from all over northern Thailand and even from other countries to visit it because of its spiritual and historical significance.

The best time to visit this monastery is on Visakha Bucha Day (วันวิสาขบูชา). During this event, usually in May, Buddhists worldwide celebrate the birth, awakening, and death of Siddhartha Gautama, his parinirvana.

Located in the middle of the monastery, viharn, with its golden gables, also contains several statues several hundred years old in its passageways. They were carved in stone in the unique style, which most often called as “Buddha with a peaceful smile”.

Outside the monastery, you will find an ubosot, which clearly does not belong to that period if its architecture is to be believed. Named Phra Ubosot Klang Nam (พระ ออุโบสถ กลางน้ำ), or Ubosot on Water, it is placed on a pontoon above an artificial pond.

Heading to the back of this building, you can enjoy an unobstructed view of the famous and photogenic Phayao Lake.

Wat Nantaram

Wat Nantaram

The temples founded by the Shan people are mainly located in Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, and Lampang provinces. However, one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful of all, is located in northern Phayao province, in Chiang Kham City.

The Shan (ฉาน), or Tai Yai (ไทใหญ่), according to their Thai name, make up the majority of the population of Shan State in Burma and Mae Hong Son Province in Thailand. In the late 19th century, some migrated eastward to take advantage of the teak trade established by the British. However, many of them stayed behind to then mingle with Thai society. In the 21st century, the Shan monasteries are undoubtedly their most beautiful legacy.

The central pavilion of Wat Nantharam is grandiose. Built of teak in the early 20th century, it has survived through conservation work. From the outside, you’ll appreciate its tiered roof, which covers a large surface area. Sorry, my photos don’t convey the scale of the building.

Inside, on the central altar is a Burmese-style teak Buddha. He is accompanied by other Buddha images made of precious wood or bronze.
You will surely notice that the building is decorated with countless bas-reliefs, carved wooden panels, and shards of mirrors reflecting light. Feel free to look up; the decorations on the ceiling are most remarkable and unusual. Every corner of this building is overflowing with antiques and Buddhas. If you appreciate ancient artifacts, you’ll be pleased.

There are two other pavilions here. One is a modern building decorated with bas-reliefs, mainly illustrating the life of the Buddha. The second building, opposite a two-colored stupa, is an ubosot. Without frills, it houses a single Buddha housed in a multicolored shrine.

Although the place looks like a museum, it is a functioning monastery and, therefore, a religious place. Consequently, you must respect the tranquility of the few monks who live on the temple grounds.

Wat Phra Nang Din

Wat Phra Nang Din

A few kilometers south of the friendly city of Chiang Kham is the Wat Phra Nang Din Temple, famous for one of its statues. According to legend, about 2000 years ago, the local people created the statue of Buddha and a pedestal for it. However, despite the many attempts made by the surrounding area residents, it was impossible to raise the figure to its base. Therefore, the statue is called Phra Chao Nang Din, which means Buddha is sitting on the ground. Since the Thai language is mostly descriptive, the temple received the same name.

Mae Puem National Park

Mae Puem National Park

Mae Phuem National Park is located in two provinces, Chiang Rai and Phayao. It is also home to two major rivers, Mae Keaw and Mae Puem, which established Mae Puem Reservior. The distinctive feature of the National Park is that you will be surrounded by nature, green meadows, high mountains and wide rivers. It’s the perfect place to enjoy nature. Near the riverbank, there are all the facilities for camping and picnicking. If you want to feel the cold breeze of the Thai winter, you should check out Mae Puem National Park in December and January.

Doi Luang & Doi Nok

Doi Luang Phayao

It can be said that Doi Luang and Doi Nok are the heavens for the trekkers because, on the mountain top, you will experience a 360-degree panorama view of the entire Phayao, including the lake, the city center, Wang Thong district, and evergreen forest. Also, during winter, the marvelous sea of mist can be admired in the morning. In addition, there is a pagoda on the top of the mountain known as Chedi Phra That Doi Nok. Many people in northern Thailand visit this amazing place to get blessing.

Mae Tam Reservoir

Mae Tam Reservoir

The next stop is Mae Tam Reservoir, one of the Royal Projects on water resource management. The reservoir carried 37 million cubic meters of water with a length of 1800 meters, the vastest pool in Northern Thailand. Mae Tam Reservoir is a great place to watch the sunset because of the peaceful atmosphere and the touch of the surrounding mountain and grassland, giving you a romantic vibe to hang out with.

Phu Klong Hill Vineyard

Phu Klong Hill Vineyard

We are shown you many places for nature lovers and important Buddhist temples, but it is time for photography lovers. Phuklong Hill vineyard is not just an ordinary vineyard but also an all-in-one attraction. It features flower gardens, a waterpark, resorts, and a restaurant, offering many activities for visitors. This vineyard is a great photography spot in winter because it is decorated with colorful flowers on every corner. If you like to take pictures and post them on social media, add Phuklong Hill to your Phayao must-visit places list. Oh! Do not forget to try fresh grape juice and buy some freshly harvested organic vegetables from the vineyard.

The Phuklong Hill was originally a rubber plantation with an area of more than 120 hectares, now the territory is divided into many flower beds and orchards, arboretum, recreation areas, water park, sheep farm, and so on. You can also see deer, albino peacocks, cockatoo parrots, and other representatives of the fauna here. Believe me, if you come to rest in Phayao for 2-3 days, you will like it here.

Phu Klong Hill Farm

And of course, you’ll find plenty of great photo opportunities here for your Instagram!

Mae Saeng Da Thai Lue House

Thai Lue House Museum

At Mae Sang Da Tai Lue House, you will feel the scent of Tai Lue culture everywhere since you step in. The traditional wooden architecture design of museums and houses is conserved in its original condition, and the Tai Lue villagers wear beautiful conventional clothes. Their goal is to preserve community heritage for future generations. There is also a learning center for cotton weaving and studying the Tai Lue culture. For any travelers who come to Phayao and want some handmade souvenirs, you should come to visit the Mae Sang Da Tai Lue House Museum. You can help the tribe conserve their heritage by supporting community products and learning about the Tai Lue tribe.

Wat Analayo

Wat Analayo

Analayo temple, also known as Wat Analayo Tipyaaraam (Thai: วัดอนาลโยทิพยาราม, wát à-naa lá-yoh típ yaa raam), is located on Doi Butsarakham mountain. The temple’s uniqueness is the novel architecture, starting at the arched entrance, sanctuary, Buddhist images, the replicate Bodh Gaya pagoda, Guan Yin (the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion) shrine, Emerald Buddha Hall, a copy of the Mahabodhi temple, and many other buildings.

The temple’s spacious area and a shady green dense forest give a pleasant atmosphere to visitors. From the viewpoint of the mountaintop, you can enjoy the scenic view of Kwan Phayao and city center from a high angle.

This temple complex stretches over several dozen hectares, on hills connected by numerous stairways, roads, and trails. It is difficult to describe this monastery in more detail, as it is full of secluded nooks, buildings and Buddha statues. I think it would require a book, not a couple of paragraphs in an online travel guide.

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Quick Facts About Phayao

  1. Geographical Location: Phayao is located in the North of Thailand, bordered by Nan, Lampang, Chiang Rai, and Laos.
  2. Capital: The capital city is also named Phayao, known for its scenic lake and laid-back atmosphere.
  3. Area: The province covers an area of approximately 6,335 square kilometers.
  4. Population: As of the latest census, Phayao has a population of around 500,000 people.
  5. Language: The primary language spoken is Thai, with Northern Thai dialects also prevalent.
  6. Climate: Phayao experiences a tropical climate with three main seasons: the rainy season from May to October, the cool season from November to February, and the hot season from March to April.
  7. Key Attractions: The Phayao Lake (Kwan Phayao), Wat Si Khom Kham (featuring one of the largest Buddha images in the Lanna style), and the Phu Sang National Park are major attractions.
  8. Economy: Agriculture is a significant part of the economy, with rice, litchi, and other fruits being the main products. Tourism also contributes to the economy.
  9. History: Phayao was founded in the 11th century and was an independent principality before becoming a part of Thailand.
  10. Cultural Significance: The province is known for its unique Northern Thai culture, with influences from the Lanna Kingdom. Traditional crafts, festivals, and cuisine reflect this heritage.
  11. Transportation: The province is accessible by road from major cities like Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Local transportation includes buses, taxis, and tuk-tuks.
  12. Education: Phayao is home to several educational institutions, including the University of Phayao.
  13. Healthcare: There are multiple hospitals and clinics providing healthcare services to locals and tourists.
  14. Cuisine: Northern Thai cuisine, known for its distinct flavors and ingredients, is prevalent. Local specialties include Sai Oua (Northern Thai sausage) and Khao Soi (curry noodle soup).
  15. Festivals: Important local festivals include the Loy Krathong Festival, Songkran (Thai New Year), and traditional Northern Thai celebrations.

Travel Tips

Embarking on a journey to Phayao, you’ll find yourself immersed in an environment that gracefully balances natural splendor with cultural charm. To enhance your experience in this Northern Thai gem, here are some detailed tips:

1. Best Time to Visit: To fully appreciate Phayao’s beauty, plan your trip during the cool season, from November to February. The weather is pleasant, perfect for outdoor activities and exploring the countryside.

2. Exploring Kwan Phayao: This vast, serene lake is not just a picturesque spot but also a hub of local life. Rent a bicycle to circle the lake, a perfect way to take in the scenery and observe local fisherfolk. In the evening, the lakeside comes alive with food stalls offering local delicacies.

3. Cultural Etiquette: Respect is paramount in Thai culture. When visiting temples like Wat Si Khom Kham, dress modestly and remove your shoes before entering. It’s also polite to bow slightly when greeting monks and elders.

4. Local Cuisine Adventure: Phayao offers an array of Northern Thai dishes. Don’t miss trying local street food, especially at the night markets. Look for Khao Soi, a coconut curry noodle soup, and Nam Prik Ong, a spicy tomato and pork dip.

5. Nature Trails and National Parks: For nature enthusiasts, Phu Sang National Park offers trails leading to waterfalls and hot springs. The park’s unique feature is its natural hot spring waterfall, a rare phenomenon.

6. Sustainable Tourism Practices: As a visitor, try to support local businesses and eco-friendly practices. Opt for local guesthouses and use services like bicycle rentals that have a lower environmental impact.

7. Language Tips: While English is spoken in tourist areas, learning a few basic Thai phrases can enrich your interaction with locals. Simple words like “Sawasdee” (hello) and “Khob Khun” (thank you) can go a long way.

8. Connectivity and Navigation: Mobile internet coverage is generally good in Phayao. Using navigation apps can help in exploring remote areas. Local SIM cards are readily available for tourists.

9. Local Markets: Explore local markets for a glimpse into daily life. The Phayao night market and the Sunday Walking Street are great places to find handicrafts, clothes, and local snacks.

10. Historical Exploration: Take time to visit the Phayao Cultural Exhibition Hall and local temples to understand the region’s history and heritage better. The artifacts and architecture tell stories of the province’s rich past.

11. Safety Precautions: While Phayao is generally safe, it’s always prudent to take standard travel precautions. Keep your belongings secure and be cautious when traveling at night.

12. Transportation: Renting a motorbike is a popular way to explore Phayao, giving you the freedom to visit off-the-beaten-path places. Ensure you have a valid driver’s license and wear a helmet.

13. Respect the Environment: As you revel in Phayao’s natural beauty, remember to maintain environmental respect. Avoid littering and respect wildlife habitats.

14. Health Facilities: Familiarize yourself with the locations of local clinics and hospitals, just in case of an emergency.

By embracing these tips, your journey through Phayao will be filled with enriching experiences, bringing you closer to the heart and soul of this tranquil province.

Pros & Cons for Travel to Phayao

Exploring Phayao, with its enchanting blend of nature and culture, is a journey filled with contrasts. To aid in your travel decision-making, let’s delve into the pros and cons of visiting this Northern Thai province:


  1. Natural Beauty: Phayao’s landscapes are breathtaking, from the tranquil Kwan Phayao Lake to the lush greenery of its national parks. This natural splendor is a haven for nature lovers and photographers.
  2. Cultural Richness: The province is steeped in history and culture. Its temples, local festivals, and museums offer an authentic glimpse into Northern Thai heritage.
  3. Tranquility: Phayao is less crowded compared to Thailand’s major tourist destinations. Its peaceful atmosphere is ideal for travelers seeking relaxation away from the hustle and bustle.
  4. Affordability: The cost of living and traveling in Phayao is relatively low. Accommodations, food, and activities are generally more affordable compared to Thailand’s more popular tourist spots.
  5. Unique Gastronomy: The local cuisine, with its distinct Northern Thai flavors, provides a unique culinary experience. Street food and local markets offer delicious meals at very reasonable prices.
  6. Friendly Locals: The people in Phayao are known for their hospitality and friendliness, making travelers feel welcomed and appreciated.
  7. Eco-Tourism Opportunities: For those interested in sustainable travel, Phayao offers eco-friendly options, including community-based tourism that supports local livelihoods.


  1. Limited English Proficiency: English is not widely spoken, especially outside the main tourist areas. This can pose challenges in communication for non-Thai speakers.
  2. Transportation Accessibility: Public transportation options are limited. While this adds to the province’s charm, it can be inconvenient for travelers without a private vehicle.
  3. Fewer Tourist Amenities: Compared to larger tourist destinations in Thailand, Phayao has fewer luxury accommodations and tourist amenities. This might be a drawback for those seeking a high-end travel experience.
  4. Seasonal Weather Variations: The weather can be quite hot and humid, especially during the summer months. The rainy season may also hinder outdoor activities.
  5. Limited Nightlife: If you’re looking for a vibrant nightlife scene, Phayao may not meet your expectations. The province has a more laid-back, quiet atmosphere at night.
  6. Remote Location: Phayao’s relatively remote location means a longer travel time from major cities or airports, which might not appeal to those with limited travel time.
  7. Healthcare Facilities: While there are healthcare facilities available, they may not be as advanced or equipped as those in larger cities.

In conclusion, Phayao offers a journey into the heart of Northern Thai culture and nature, ideal for those seeking tranquility and authentic experiences. While it may not have the convenience or facilities of more developed tourist destinations, its charm lies in its simplicity and unspoiled beauty.

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You can get from Chiang Mai to Phayao on your own by renting a motorcycle from our company. You can also rent a car using the EconomyBookings and RentalCars websites, where you can find the best deals on car rentals among all the major rental agencies in Chiang Mai.

You can also book a private transfer. Alternatively, you can go to Phayao by public transportation. A public bus ticket costs only 250 baht. But this is a very inconvenient option, as public transportation will not take you to the sights.

Yeap, Phayao is worth visiting. It is a beautiful city with a rich cultural heritage, stunning natural scenery, and plenty of activities to enjoy. There are also many interesting historical sites to explore, as well as a variety of restaurants and shops.

Phayao is known for its stunning natural scenery, including mountains, lakes, and rivers. It is also known for its rich cultural heritage, with many temples and traditional festivals. Additionally, Phayao is known for its delicious local cuisine, which includes dishes such as khao soi and nam phrik.

Phayao is located about 725 kilometers from Bangkok. The trip by car takes about 12 hours.

There is a small airport here, but it is not used for commercial air travel. The nearest airport for commercial and passenger air transportation is in Chiang Rai, 102 kilometers away.

It depends on what you want to do and see in Phayao. Generally, two to three days is enough to explore the city and its attractions. After visiting Phayao, you can travel to the nearby provinces of Phrae, Nan or Chiang Rai.

If you are visiting Phayao province, we recommend visiting Kwan Phayao Lake, Phu Lang Ka Forest Park with the Magic Mountain Café, Wat Nantaram Thai-Yai-style temple, which you can rarely see nowadays, Doi Phu Nang Nature Park, Doi Luang Phayao Mountain and Analayo Temple.

You can stick to the previous recommendations, but check out Phu Klong Hill. This place has a water park with water slides, a sheep farm, vineyards and strawberry fields where you can harvest your crops, a cafe with sweet desserts among numerous lushly blooming flowerbeds, and sculptures of fairy tale characters and pedal boats.

The easiest way to get to Phayao from Chiang Mai is by bus. There are several bus companies that offer direct services from Chiang Mai to Phayao, with the journey taking around 3-4 hours.

The population of Phayao city is approximately 19,000 people.

Phayao is a province in northern Thailand. The capital city of the province is also called Phayao.

Yes, there is nightlife in Phayao. There are several bars and clubs in the city, as well as live music venues and karaoke bars.

Lake Phayao is known for its stunning natural beauty, with crystal clear waters and lush green mountains surrounding it. It is also known for its abundance of fish, making it a popular spot for fishing. Additionally, the lake is home to several underwater temples and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.

The walking street (Chaykwan Rd) in Phayao is located in the city center, near the intersection of Phahonyothin Road and Chiang Mai Road. It is open every day from 5pm to 11pm and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.

Feel free to ask us if you need a bike rental in Chiang Mai for your trip to Phayao. In addition, for independent travelers exploring Northern Thailand, we have created online travel guides to the most exciting places in our region. Finally, don’t forget to read our guide on safe driving in Thailand.

If you prefer to rent a car, including the option to return the rental car to a rental location in another city, we recommend that you compare car rental rates in Chiang Mai & Phayao. Prices may differ by half or more.

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  1. Good morning from a French expat dwelling in Jomtien
    Will Chiang Kham military airfield be revamped as to accommodate commercial aviation?

    I appreciate this northern region of Phayao province.

    Kind regards, Michel

    1. Cat Motors Team says:

      Good evening Michel! Unfortunately, we do not have such information. Today, the nearest commercial airport to Phayao is airport of Chiang Rai (102km, 1hr 30min driving). In our opinion, this is also very cool, because during your trip you will be able to see many more sights. In order not to return after visiting Phayao to Chiang Rai, you can fly out of Lampang (134km, 2hr driving), Chiang Mai (163km, 2hr 40 min driving) or Nan (182km, 3 hr driving) airports, making your trip even more fun =)

      We have removed your phone number from the comments to avoid the situation when people find your phone number on our website and send you spam messages or make promotional calls.

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