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.
Buses run regularly from Bangkok’s northern bus terminal (Mo Chit). The bus from Chiang Rai costs 60 baht (July 2017) and takes 2 hrs. The Greenbus to Chiang Mai costs 111 baht and takes 3 hrs. The nearest railway stations are in Lampang and Chiang Mai.
There are tuk-tuks at the bus station.
- 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. (updated Nov 2016)
- 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. (updated Oct 2018)
- 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. (updated Oct 2018)
- 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. (updated Oct 2018)
- 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. (updated Oct 2018)