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Old wooden house
Wichairacha House in Phrae

Phrae is the capital of the province of the same name. The province borders Phayao, Nan, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, and Lampang provinces. The town is located on the Yom River. The history of the town seems to date back to the Hariphunchai era, more than 1000 years ago. In the 15th century Phrae became a part of the Lanna Kingdom.

Phrae has significant Burmese and Lao influences. It is close to Laos. Burmese and Shan workers came to the town in the late 19th century when the town became a center of the teak logging industry. These people worked for the British Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation. The Presbyterian Mission has also been active in Phrae for more than 100 years. Their legacy are two wooden missionary houses.

Amongst the attractions of this town are its well preserved city walls and lots of interesting temples and heritage (“gingerbread”) houses. Temples of particular interest are Wat Luang, the beautiful Wat Chom Sawan – a Shan styled monastery complex – and the most famous one: Wat Phra That Cho Hae.

Nationwide the town is famous for the traditional indigo-deyed farmer’s tunique called “seua mo hom“. There are many shops selling these textiles and you can make your own Mo Hom shirt. Just outside of Phrae is the “Muang Pi”, a strange eroded landscape where you can make some walks.

Finally, the town is known as being the birthplace of the Thai resistance against the Japanese occupation in World War Two. There is a small museum about the history of the Seri Thai (“Free Thai”) movement. Phrae is well worth spending at least two nights.