Things to do in Phrae
Buddhist Temples in Phrae
Wat Phra That Cho Hae
One of the things to do in Phrae is to visit Wat Phra That Cho Hae. It is the most famous and revered temple of Phrae. It is located about 10kms outside the center of town. There are relics of the Buddha enshrined inside its chedi. It is believed the temple dates back to the Sukhothai era but an exact date is not known. Followers of the “engineer-monk” Kruba Srivichai restored the temple in the 1920s. Wat Phra That Cho Hae is a must-see in Phrae.
Wat Chom Sawan
Wat Chom Sawan is probably our favorite temple in Phrae. This pretty wooden Burmese-style temple was constructed during the reign of King Rama V. Shan (Tai Yai) workers constructed this temple probably between 1910 and 1912. Many Shan worked for the British and Danish teaklogging firms in that period. The temple is located in town and certainly worth a visit.
Wat Phra Non
Wat Phra Non is the temple of the reclining Buddha in Phrae. It is located in the old town. It has a large Buddha statue.
Wat Pong Sunan
Wat Phong Sunan is located in the old city of Phrae, inside the city moat. This is the temple of the Wongburi family. It used to be called Wat Pong Sanuk. After its renovation in 1929 it was renamed Wat Pong Sunan after Chao Sunanta, one of the owners of the Wongburi House. The main Buddha image is more than 500 years old. The temple also has a large reclining Buddha and a chedi called Phra That Phong Sunan Mongkhon Chedi.
Great Activities in Phrae
Mo Hom Indigo Workshop
“Mo Hom” is a traditional indigo dyeing process that was mainly used to dye clothing of farmers. Mo Hom was passed on from generation to generation. The village Ban Thung Hong, close to Phrae town, is famous for this centuries-old process. Mo means pot. Hom is the indigo plant to produces the deep blue color of the dye. In Ban Thung Hong you can do a Mo Hom workshop during which your learn this technique and dye your own shirt. It is great fun.
Great Things to see in Phrae
Vongburi House or Baan Vongburi was built in 1898. It was without doubt the most famous if Phrae’s “gingerbread” houses. It was built by the first wife of the last ruler Chao Luang Piriya Theppawong. It is still owned by the Vongburi family. This family has pioneered the conservation of heritage houses in Phrae. The Vongburi House now is a museum.
Khum Chao Luang
Khum Chao Luang was the residence of Chao Luang Piriya Theppawong, the last rulers of Phrae. It predates the Vongburi House by 5 years. It was built in 1892 and clearly shows Western influences. Khum Chao Luang is now a museum. Definitely one of the “must-see” things to do in Phrae.
Seri Thai Museum
The Seri Thai Museum is dedicated to the Thai resistance movement against the Japanese occupation during World War Two. Seri Thai means “Free Thai”. The museum has interesting exhibits about a history few people know about. Most captions are in Thai only so you will need to some preparatory reading before you go there. The museum is in a nice teakwooden building behind the Paradorn Hotel.
Vichai Racha House
The Vichai Racha House dates back from 1898. The house has a turbulent history. The owner played an important role during the Shan Rebellion of 1902 after which King Rama V bestowed the title Phra Vichai Racha on him. The Free Thai movement used the house as a base against the Japanese army during World War Two. An elderly man now owns the house. He tries to raise funds for its restoration.
There are two former missionary houses in Phrae. Both houses probably were constructed in the early 1890s by American missionaries. Around 1912 the two houses were dismembered and rebuilt at their current locations, one at the former Christian hospital and one at the former Christian school. With funds of the US government one house was restored. The second house is in very bad state. Both houses are open for visitors.