The former center of Thailand’s teak industry, Phrae features many old teak mansions as well as protected forests ideal for hiking and spotting exotic wildlife.
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. Phrae contains one of the largest reserves of teak forests in the country and is located on the banks of the Yom River, 555 kilometers north of Bangkok
Like Chiang Mai, Phrae retained its fortified old city, while the new city grew around it. While the new city is charming enough, the old one contains sleepy alleyway lined with teak houses that are outstanding examples of traditional Thai architecture and a number of beautiful temples. Many of these immense teak mansions were constructed by European traders who were engaged in the teak trade back in the 19th century.
In the surrounding province, there are several national parks, some remote hill tribe villages, and a number of stands of teak, which are now widely protected from loggers.
As a province somewhat off the typical tourist route, Phrae is best reached via private car or bus. However, it is possible to take a train or plane to nearby Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai and then a bus to Phrae. Once there, it may be easier to get around with your own car, but there are standard forms of local transport available for visitors: i.e. songtaews, motorbike taxis, samlors, and tuk tuks.
Getting to and from Phrae
- By Car:
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 and Highway No. 11 to Phrae via Nakhon Sawan, Phichit, Phitsanulok and Uttaradit.
- By Bus:
The Transport Co. Ltd. operates regular busses to Phrae at 10 a.m. and 10.30 p.m. The busses leave Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2) everyday. For more information, call 0 2936 2852-66 or visit www.transport.co.th. Private bus companies also servicing Phrae include Choet Chai Tour (Tel: 0 2936 0199), Phrae Tour (Tel: 0 2936 3720), and Sombat Tour (Tel: 0 2936 2496).
- By Air:
There are no regular commercial flights to Phrae. The nearest airports to fly into are Chiang Mai or Chiang Mai from where a bus can be taken to Phrae.
Getting Around Phrae
As in most rural Thai provinces there are typically songtaews that follow established routes around the provincial capital and local busses and songtaews for trips between towns within the province. Songtaews, motorbike taxis, and samlors (three wheeled pedal powered cabs) are usually available for private charter as well.