Phayao Province, Thailand
Phayao is a small peaceful province that not even many Thais are aware of. But tree-lined streets, antique wooden houses and an attractive lakeside setting combine to make it one of the more pleasant municipalities in northern Thailand.
Though with only modest facilities and conveniences, it is an enchanting community with delightful natural beauty and fascinating religious sites.
Dating back to more than 900 years, it used to be an independent state with its own rulers before it became a part of the Lanna Thai kingdom in mid-14th century.
Lanna in Thai means 'land of a million rice fields' and is the name of the ancient kingdom that was once in the region.
The name evokes images of the dynamic and thriving realm that once covered what is now northern Thailand. Which Chiang Mai is the heart of the Lanna and the fine cuisine at Lanna Thai represents that.
Combining cultural treasures and amazing natural landscapes, where you can rough it while trekking through mist-shrouded mountains, you will be astounded by teeming aquatic life as you plunge into turquoise waters for a dip in this un-touristed region, virtually enveloped by mountains and valleys.
Lying between Chiang Mai and Nan provinces and due south of Chiang Rai, Phayao province is split between lowland rice growing areas and mountains containing substantial hilltribe populations.
Phayao is about 691 kilometres form Bangkok and covers an area of 6,335 square kilometres. Phayao is divided into the following districts: Muang, Chun, Chiang Kham, Tai, Pong, Mae Chi, Phu Sang and Phu Kam Yao.
The province was administratively separated from Chiang Rai in 1977 but further back in Thai history, it was an autonomous city-state, though generally still under the tutelage of one of its more powerful neighbours -- unfortunately, little of the city's rich heritage remains to be seen today.
The mid-sized, prosperous provincial capital, also called Phayao, is rarely visited by backpackers, but is creeping onto bus tour itineraries. It is popular with Thais who flock here from as far away as Bangkok for its scenic location on the edge of the beautiful Kwan Phayao (Phayao Lake).
Believed to have been first built by the King of Chiang Saen around the turn of the 12th century, today it is just another ordinary urban centre. The city is very laid-back and peaceful, while the lakeside strip of Chai Kwan Rd is lined with bars, restaurants and nightclubs set against ornate gardens and parks full of picknicking Thais.
Lakeside breezes help keep the city cool and while there's little to actually do in Phayao, the sunset views across the lake to the distant hills from one of the excellent restaurants make at least an overnight stop here well worthwhile.
Aside from the large lake there is little of interest in town for the traveller, but it does make for a handy base for exploring the surrounds -- there are a number of interesting wats and some stunning mountain scenery that can easily be explored and experienced from here.
Depending on route taken, Phayao is 600-700 km from Bangkok, 90 km from Chiang Rai, 140 km from Chiang Mai and 137 km from Nan. This positioning makes it a good choice to break the journey of those travelling between Nan and Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai.
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The World’s Only Candle Light Procession of Kwan Phayao
Wien Tien Klang Nam Ceremony – The World’s Only Candle Light Procession of Kwan Phayao. Phayao has claimed its Wien Tien Klang Nam ceremony as the world’s one and only Candle Light Procession held on water! Wien Tien Klang Nam ceremony is only be held three times a year on Makha Bhucha Day, Visakah Bucha Day, and Asarnha Bucha Day, in the middle of Kwan Phayao; where the 500-year-old Wat Tilok-Aram lays at the bottom of Lake Phayao!