Phayao Travel Guide

Phayao is a peaceful and mountainous getaway destination in northern Thailand. Rather than extensive infrastructure and amenities, visitors enjoy the laid-back atmosphere, natural beauty and unique Thai subculture.

Phayao was born nine centuries ago as an independent city state that didn’t merge with the northern Lanna Kingdom until the 1300s. A monument in the city park honors King Phu Kam Yao, a powerful monarch who promoted strong ties with the neighboring kingdom.

This little town is not for cosmopolites looking for a high profile excursion. There are few organized activities on the agenda and virtually no nightlife. The town sits on the banks of Kwan Phayao lake, which features a number of waterfront restaurants and inns. The major attractions are temples, monuments and natural features like waterfalls.

Getting There & Away

Phayao is a little over 400 miles from Bangkok and can be reached via overnight coach. The nearest airport is roughly two hours away in Chiang Rai, and from here it’s possible to connect to Chiang Mai in a few minutes or to Bangkok in roughly an hour. Both of these airports offer a range of international flights.

Things to Do

Phayao Attractions

Kwan Phayao

This lake is the centerpiece of the city and doubles as the largest fish habitat in the region.

Wat Si Khom Kham

This lakeside temple holds an enormous buddha statue as well as a museum with artifacts related to indigenous history and culture.

Wat Phra That Chomthong

Perched on a hill overlooking the lake and city, this temple is directly across from wat si khom kham.

Champa Thong Waterfall

Follow the road to chiang rai out of phayao for a few miles to reach this picturesque waterfall.

Wat Analyo

This temple sits on a large plot of land and also enjoys a nice view of the lake, with the city visible in the distance.