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Phayao town sits on the shores of Phayao Lake.

Phayao (พะเยา) is a city in the Northern River Valleys of Northern Thailand, about 700 km from Bangkok and 100km northeast of Chiang Mai.


Surrounded by mountains and valleys, Phayao sits in a peaceful, though modestly developed, area. The town was the centre of an independent city state until it was folded into the Lannathai kingdom in the mid-14th century.

The modern town covers most of the eastern shore of Phayao Lake.

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

Buses run regularly from Bangkok's northern bus terminal (Mo Chit).

The bus from Chiang Rai costs 92 baht (Feb 2024) and takes 2 hr.

There are four buses departing Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3 daily, arriving at Phayao Bus Terminal. The whole journey takes around 3 hours.

By car[edit]

Highway 1 (Phaholyothin Road) passes through Muang Phayao.

From Bangkok, drive on Highway 32 to Sing Buri, then take route 117 to Phitsanulok, and Highway 11 to Phrae then routes 101 and 103, and it will merge onto Highway 1. The route is almost 700 km in length.

From Chiang Mai, drive on route 118, then turn onto route 120 at Mae Chedi town, going through Lampang and then Highway 1 to Muang Phayao. The route is around 150 km in length.

By plane[edit]

The closest airport to Phayao is Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport (IATA: CEI, ICAO: VTCT) which is around 100 kilometres north of the city centre of Phayao.

By train[edit]

The nearest railway stations are in Lampang and Chiang Mai.

Get around[edit]

Map of Phayao

There are tuk-tuks at the bus station.


  • Bo Sib Song (Well No. 12), T om, Moo. 17, Ban Tom. 09:00-17:00. A nice walking trail near Mueng Phayao that has natural landscape formation of twelve water holes (hence the name) with a short trail that has a cliff overlooking the province. The area has a campsite and restrooms, and is building a restaurant as of January 2024.
  • Phu Langka Forest Park, Pong Rd., Pha Chang Noi, Pong. Daily, 06:00-18:00. Phu Langka Forest Park is the only viewpoint spot to admire the sea of fog in Phayao Province. It is at Pha Chang, Pong, at an elevation of 1,700 m, covering an area of 7,800 hectares. The Yao hilltribe call the summit of the mountain "Fin Cha Bo", meaning an "enshrining venue of angels". It has been told that on full moon days, there will be a white aura at the summit. Most of the area is hill evergreen forest with plenty of large trees, as well as, wild flowers and rare plants. It is a venue for the study of the original ecological system of the hill evergreen forest and the source of rivers along the nature study route where there are more than 100 species of fauna and a splendid sea of fog.
  • Wat Si Khom Kham (วัดศรีโคมคำ). A highlight of the temple is the largest Chiang Saen-era statue in Thailand. Local people call it Wat Phrachao Ton Luang (วัดพระเจ้าตนหลวง). The statue is not only a Phayao Province signature sight, but also typifies the Lanna Thai Kingdom style. There is a ceremony to pay respect to Phrachao Ton Luang during Visakha Puja Day of every year, which is called "the ceremony to pay respect to Phrachao Ong Luang in the 8th Northern Lunar Month". Another thing that makes the place interesting is the sculpture garden which contains a collection of statues representing heaven and hell.
  • Pho Khun Ngam Muang Memorial. It is inside a public park. It commemorates a former king of Phayao, or Pho Khun Ngam Muang Memorial Pho Kam Yao, who was in power some 700 years ago. During his reign, the state flourished and expanded its territory. It was often said the wherever the King travelled, the weather obeyed his desires.
  • Phayao Cultural Exhibition Hall (Walk north along the lake for about 10 minutes and it will be on the left side). It displays the fishing techniques along with the fish and lake information. There are also collections of Buddha images and inscriptions from the 13th century on. The hall consists of two floors, most of the displays have an English translation.
  • Wat Phra That Si Chom Thong Woraviharn (Formerly Wat Phra That Sri Chom Thong). It is on a mud hill called Doi Chom Thong. The relics, right part of the head of the Buddha, have the size of corn kernels. Wat Phra That Sri Chom Thong is believed to be the temple of the year of rat, by the Lanna people. The base is white smooth colour (similar to the colour of the luff and dried bullet wood). One of the important spots is inside part of the temple, there are paintings showing the goddess and legend of Phra That Si Chom Thong on the wall. The entrance of the temple was filled with sacred items as the tradition of Lanna, so females are not allowed to go in. The second important spot is Tripitaka Hall, which is located behind the Buddhist temple. It is the two-floor building for keeping the Tripitaka. The third spot is Phra That Noi, which was assumed to have an age of 300 years. There are lots of sacred items inside, but there are no Buddha’s relics. The last important spot is Phra That Si Chom Thong. It is covered with gold, has a square base, with the width of 4 meters and length of 8 metres. This temple contains the Chom Thong Insight meditation centre. The meditation classes are open to both Thai people and foreigners, and are conducted in Thai and English.
  • 1 Phu Sang National Park, National Highway 1093 Phu Sang, Phu Sang District, Phayao 56110. 08:30-16:00. The national park has a natural forming warm waterfall which is always 35 degrees. There are restaurants around the area. For Thai people: 10 baht for children, 20 baht for adults. For foreigners: 50 baht for children, 50 baht for adults. Vehicle fees: 20 baht for motorbikes, 30 baht for personal vehicles..
  • 2 Doi Phu Nang National Park, Ban Mang, Chiang Muan District. 08:30-16:00. The national park has two beautiful waterfalls that can be swim in. For Thai people: 10 baht for children, 20 baht for adults. For foreigners: 50 baht for children, 50 baht for adults. Vehicle fees: 20 baht for motorbikes, 30 baht for personal vehicles..


  • Take a boat trip to the "sunken wat" in the middle of the lake. Small boats leave from the jetty. Price: 40 baht per person.
  • Take a lakeside stroll or do as the locals do and picnic on the grassy shore.
  • 1 Doi Phu Nang National Park, Ban Mang, Chiang Muan District, +66 95 690 0605. 08:30-16:00 daily. Scenic beauty, waterfalls and resident peacocks. Doi Phu Nang National Park (Q4925823) on Wikidata Doi Phu Nang National Park on Wikipedia
  • While not as mainstream as some of the other Northern Provinces, the provinces has as some hiking trails that are more isolated: Doi Luang-Doi Hnog (ดอยหลวง-ดอยหนอก), Bo Sib Song (บ่อสิบสอง), Phu Lanka-Doi Phu Nom(ดอยภูนม) and Phu An Ma (ภูอานม้า) are some major ones in the area.



  • Hwy 1202 Garden Cafe & Guest House, Hwy 1202 km9.5 (Travelling N at intersection of Pra Tu Chai at Hwy 1 and Hwy 1202 turn right (to Pa Daet), go approximately 9.5km to location on right), +66 87 0004725. Hours variable.
  • Wood Oven Pizza (a block from the waterfront). Authentic American-style pizza with homemade sausages and real fountain drinks. All profits are reinvested in local projects. Pizzas are quite large and are available by the slice. From 200 baht.

A long stretch of cheap (roughly 50 baht) night eateries starts about 200m from the bus station. Buy (and open) beer at the 7-Eleven across the road and take it to your stall of choice.


  • Norbulingka Coffee, 637/2 Phahonyotin Rd, +66 54 411291. 07:00-19:00. Tibetan-style Thai coffee shop with Theravadan bookshelves, Nepalese murals, and prayer flags fluttering. 50 baht.


  • Gateway Hotel, 7/50 Pratugakong Rd (turn left from the bus station, it is about 200m on the left), +66 54 411333. Modern, air-con, 10-storey hotel, with great views of the lake from the upper floors. Thai or Western buffet breakfast included. Hot showers. Staff are friendly and some English is spoken. 800 baht.
  • 1 Tharn Thong Hotel, 55-59 Donsaman Rd, +66 54 431302. Unostentatious concrete building in the city centre, friendly staff, simple and clean rooms with fan or air-con and TV, Wi-Fi, free drop-off at the bus station, bike hire. Not quite as nice as staying at the lake front, but really OK. No English language sign. Good for the price. Up to 300 baht for double room with air-con, cheaper rooms with fan.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Phayao
Chiang Rai  N  S  LampangBangkok

This city travel guide to Phayao is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.