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Our Guide to Phayao Here’s why Thailand’s ancient Buddhist kingdom is a must-visit

Our Guide to Phayao: Here’s why Thailand’s ancient Buddhist kingdom is a must-visit!

Don’t be like us who kept putting off our Phayao trip because we thought it might not be worth the time compared to its neighbors, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. But it’s a good thing we went anyway because we had a fantastic time!

For starters, we’ve got our first taste of head-turning Buddhist art in the temple of Tai Yai (lots more temples than you can handle here). Believe it or not,  the gigantic structure is all made of teak (wood) emblazoned with intricate Buddhist patterns. 

And yes, who can forget all those bird calls? Those numerous national parks really made an impression on us with birds of countless species, more so if a certified birdwatcher (chances are, you might hear those birds calling even while asleep). 

So, in this complete guide, we’re giving you a peek at the best things you can do in Phayao, Thailand’s province that used to be an ancient small Buddhist kingdom since 1096. In short, we’re inviting you to have a really, really good time. Read on!

Things to Know

Currency: Thai Baht
(Check the current exchange rate)

Language: Thai (Central Thai)

Calling Code: (+66)

Nearest Airport: Mae Fah Luang – Chiang Rai International Airport (106 km)

Best Time to Visit Phayao

It’s best to visit Phayao between November and January for the cold and dry weather. That means you can enjoy the sights and attractions within the province with clear skies and little to no rainfall from morning until nighttime.

During this time, you can enjoy frequent foggy mornings, especially in the province’s hilly and forest areas like Phu Langka and Mae Puen National Park. 

Meanwhile, the only reason to visit Phayao during the rainy season is for cheaper prices and more vigorous waterfalls.

How to Get to Phayao

Rental Vehicle: Renting a car or motorbike is a great way to get to Phayao from nearby provinces like Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, or Lampang. The only requirement is to submit an International Driving Permit with your driver’s license.

Phayao is connected to Chiang Rai and Lampang via the Phahonyothin Road, so it’s a straightforward drive. 

Bus: Boarding a public bus is a cheaper way to get to Phayao from nearby and faraway provinces. Your options include the daily bus trips from Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1, Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3, and Bangkok’s Mo Chit Bus Station.

Where to Stay in Phayao

Jeerat House

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Address: 70/3 ถ Susan, เมือง 

Operating Hours: 2 p.m. (Check-in) & 11:30 a.m. (Check-out)

Contact Number: +66 88 266 5519


Prices: ฿

Jeerat House is one of the cheapest and highest-rated accommodations in Phayao. They have clean and spacious bungalows equipped with flat-screen TVs and working spaces.

It’s tucked away in a quiet neighborhood close to Kwan Phayao Lake, so it’s perfect if you want a good location that also offers a relaxed atmosphere.

M2 Hotel Waterside

Address: 629 หมู่ 17 Ban Tom

Operating Hours: 3 p.m. (Check-in) & 12 p.m. (Check-out)

Contact Number: +66 63 164 7824


Prices: ฿฿

For minimalists, M2 Hotel Waterside’s modern rooms are the perfect choice. The rooms also have terraces or balconies which is great because the hotel is built along the Kwan Phayao Lake.

That means you’re already covered for stunning lake views from the comfort of your hotel room. Moreover, there’s a rooftop pool area with a panoramic view of the city.

DD Garden Home

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Address: 229 หมู่13 บ้านท่าเรือ ถนนพหลโยธิน ตำบลบ้านต๊ำ

Operating Hours: 2 p.m. (Check-in) & 12 p.m. (Check-out)

Contact Number: +66 93 130 3111


Prices: ฿

If you want a peaceful hideaway with a gorgeous garden, there’s DD Garden Home. Their garden has several flowerbeds, potted plants, and a small artificial pond.

It sets the perfect atmosphere for morning and afternoon walks. DD Garden Home’s rooms have minimalist interiors, furnished balconies, and lovely garden views.

Where to Eat in Phayao

So Good Phayao

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Address: Ban Tom

Operating Hours: 10 a.m. – 12 a.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 82 190 9009


Prices: ฿฿

This alfresco lakeside restaurant is perfect for tourists who want to try classic Thai food while enjoying beautiful scenery. That’s why it’s popular among people who enjoy pleasant atmospheres and live music.

When it comes to food, they have a diverse menu consisting of Thai and Northern specialties. Our favorites were the hung lay curry, Isan pork sausage, and egg mushroom curry.

CupCake Phayao

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Address: 456 Phahonyotin Road, Wiang

Operating Hours: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 86 446 8885


Prices: ฿฿

CupCake Phayao is a humble cafe with a quiet and charming garden dining area. The menu mostly consists of a wide selection of sweet drinks, pastries, and breakfast options.

However, we think the biggest hitters are their Japanese-style rice bowls. We particularly enjoyed the ebi tempura don with miso and papaya salad on the side.

Ancharoen Noodles

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Address: 10/3-5 Rajsamphan Road, Wiang

Operating Hours: 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 54 431 785


Prices: ฿

Ancharoen Noodles is a popular noodle shop in Phayao. It’s a local favorite, so expect to see the place packed with Thai customers who frequent it for its delicious and affordable noodles.

Their signature guay tiew noodles are known for their savory meatballs and rich clear broth. It’s a must-try whenever you’re visiting Phayao.

What to See and Do in Phayao

Watch the beautiful sunset in Kwan Phayao Lake

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Address: Ban Sang

Operating Hours: 24/7

Admission Cost: Free

The place to go if you want to relax and enjoy the refreshing scenery in Phayao. This lake is massive, so there are plenty of things to see if you go for a walk around the lake: park benches, flowerbeds, boats, statues, aquatic plants, a fountain, and more. 

Its most notable sight is a golden bell-shaped pagoda between two golden Naga statues. Aside from that, you can find numerous cafes along the lake where you can enjoy a cup of coffee while watching the beautiful sunset.

Ride a boat to Wat Tilok Aram’s floating shrine

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Address: พุทธสถานวัดกลางกว๊าน Tambon Mae Sai, เมือง

Operating Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 83 464 6564


Admission Cost: Free

Wat Tilok Aram is an interesting floating shrine in the middle of Kwan Phayao Lake. This shrine is a tribute to the real temple submerged under the lake.

Our team’s history buffs are particularly fond of this shrine. Aside from being one of Phayao’s most unique temples, it’s a place that reminds us of our relationship with nature and its effect on our lifestyle, culture, and history.

The boat ride to Wat Tilok Aram costs 50 baht, which is a steal given the unique experience!

Admire Wat Phra That Chom Thong’s golden Lanna-style pagoda

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Address: 205 Soi 13 Mu 17, Ban Tom

Operating Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Daily)

Admission Cost: Free

If you enjoy temple-hopping, your visit to Phayao won’t be complete without seeing the golden Lanna-style pagoda in Wat Phra That Chom Thong. It’s said to enshrine Sri Lankan Buddha relics, so expect to see a lot of pilgrims going here to pay respects.

Notice how the golden pagoda has a similar architectural style to the pagodas in Lamphun. That’s because the temple is believed to have been constructed under the rule of Lamphun’s ancient Hariphunchai Kingdom.

There are old photos of Wat Phra That Chom Thong inside the temple complex. If you’re a history fan, these are a great way to reflect on how the temple used to be during its discovery and reconstruction.

See sandstone carvings in Wat Huai Pha Kiang

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Address: 611 หมู่ที่ 12 Tha Wang Thong

Operating Hours: 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 82 183 4980

Admission Cost: Free

Wat Huai Pha Kiang is one of the more mystical attractions in this province. It’s a temple ruin hidden amid a lush forest on the outskirts of Phayao City which makes it perfect if you enjoy peaceful vibes when sightseeing.

If you love exploring nature trails as much as you enjoy visiting religious sites, this is the place to be. The highlight of this temple ruin is the numerous sandstone carvings scattered all over the place.

That means plenty of photo opportunities when you visit this place.

Drop by the Pho Khun Ngam Muang Monument

Address: Wiang

Operating Hours: 24/7

Admission Cost: Free

This monument is one of the most important attractions in Phayao. It was constructed to honor the ninth king of the ancient Phayao (Phukamyao) Kingdom whose reign made them one of the three largest kingdoms in the region alongside Lanna and Sukhothai.

Pho Khun Ngam Muang is deeply revered, so expect to find locals and tourist paying their respects and offering flowers at the monument. Every 5th of March, a ritual is held in the king’s honor, so it’s a great time to visit if you want to see a colorful procession.

Enjoy birdwatching in Phu Langka Forest Park

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Address: Pha Chang Noi

Operating Hours: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Monday – Saturday)

Contact Number: +66 05 441 5992

Admission Costs: 200 baht (Adults), 100 baht (Kids)

Phu Langka Forest Park is a haven for bird lovers and hiking enthusiasts. It’s home to over 90 bird species, so it’s perfect for dedicated birdwatchers who enjoy traversing hiking trails to observe and photograph birds.

Bird sightings in the park include red-collared doves, greater coucal, violet cuckoo, white-nest swiftlet, Asian openbill, Indochinese roller, and crimson sunbird. Aside from that, this park is home to over 100 plant species, so there’s plenty to see.

The park is also well known for having some of the most stunning sceneries in Phayao. Its highest points provide a panoramic view of Phu Langka’s lush hills and cloudy mountainscapes.

Check out Phu Sang National Park’s enchanting cascade

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Address: National Highway 1093 Phu Sang

Operating Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 54 070 205


Admission Costs: 100 baht (Adults), 50 baht (Kids)

Phu Sang National Park’s waterfall is a must-see if you like watching unique natural attractions. It cascades from a cave-like rock formation sprawling with vines giving it an enchanting vibe.

Moreover, the waterfall is a mineral hot spring, so expect a pool of warm water perfect for dipping your toes in. That makes it ideal for relaxing picnics with friends and family.

Aside from that, the waterfall’s pool attracts butterflies, so you’ll see plenty of these beautiful insects resting by the water or fluttering about.

Hike to Than Sawan Waterfall in Doi Phu Nang National Park

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Address: Ban Mang

Operating Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 95 690 0605


Admission Costs: 100 baht (Adults), 50 baht (Kids)

Than Sawan Waterfall is one of the most popular cascades in Phayao for two reasons: strong water streams and a deep swimming pool. It’s the ideal place if you want a cool and refreshing dip in the water.

That’s why it’s a popular picnic spot among tourists and local families. Since the waterfall is within Doi Phu Nang National Park, you can find several hiking trails and smaller cascades nearby.

Also, be on the lookout for peacocks, as they’re known to roam within the park.

Visit Wat Si Khom Kham’s giant Buddha statue

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Address: 692 Phahon Yothin Road, Wiang

Operating Hours: 7 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 99 363 6469


Admission Cost: Free

For temple fanatics, Wat Si Khom Kham is a must-visit for its giant Buddha statue. Aside from its size, this Buddha image is well-known for its unique face which is based on the Chiang Saen and Lanna styles dating back from the 11th to 18th centuries.

That also explains the finer hair curls, extended finial, and subduing mara posture common among the Buddha images during the Chiang Saen period. It’s the most important Buddha statue in Phayao, so expect to see many visitors in the temple.

Other notable sights here include the hundred-year-old stone-carved Buddha images within the passageway of its wihan and a floating ubosot in an artificial pond outside the temple’s monastery.

Go on a camping trip at Mae Puem National Park

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Address: อุทยานแห่งชาติแม่ปืม-Mae Puem National Park อุทยานแห่งชาติแม่ปืม หมู่ 8 บ้านป่าตึง, ต.แม่ใจ อ. แม่ใจ Mae Chai

Operating Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 93 265 3035


Admission Costs: 100 baht (Adults), 50 baht (Kids)

Mae Puem National Park is the place to be if you want to go on a camping trip in Phayao. It’s a tranquil nature reserve with a relaxing atmosphere surrounded by a lush forest and a vast reservoir.

Campers aren’t allowed to make loud noises past 10 p.m., so it’s ideal for stargazing in peace or listening to forest sounds at night. You can stay here comfortably because they have clean bathrooms and hot shower facilities.

During the day, you can rent bicycles and kayaks from the park’s visitors center.

Pig out on local street food at Tha Kwan Walking Street

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Address: Wiang

Operating Hours: 3 p.m. – 11 p.m. (Friday – Saturday)

Admission Cost: Free

If you plan to go on a foodie adventure in Phayao, Tha Kwan Walking Street is the place to be. This night market is packed with local vendors selling classic Thai street food, so there are plenty of food options to try.

The local specialties to watch out for are pla nin neung nam phrik num and kaeng som tun. Pla nin nueng nam phrik num, in particular, is a solid pick. It’s a steamed stuffed tilapia made using fresh tilapia from Kwan Phayao Lake.

FAQs about Phayao

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