Phayao is a small and beautiful province located in northern Thailand. Located near Chiang Rai province, this offbeat destination in Thailand is perfect for a day trip. However, to cover this city in its entirety, you can easily take 2-3 days and explore. Many people wonder if Phayao is worth visiting, and the answer is yes! From watching the sunset at Phayao Lake to discovering hidden temples, and from shopping at weekend markets to camping in the National Park, there is a lot you can do in Phayao. This quick travel guide will suggest your top 10 things to do in Phayao and answer some of your travel queries regarding the same. Check out the quick list below:

What to do in Phayao

Where is Phayao in Thailand?

Phayao is one of the 77 provinces of Thailand. It is located in the upper northern Thailand with neighbouring provinces such as Chiang Rai, Phrae and Lampang. If you’re travelling from Chaing Mai then reaching Phayao will take at least three hours via car or public transport.

Things to do in Phayao:

1. Take a Boat Trip to Wat Tilok Aram Temple

Take a Boat Trip to Wat Tilok Aram Temple

This Buddhist temple in Phayao is a landmark tourist attraction that is half-submerged in the Phayao lake. According to historical accounts, the temple was created before the existence of any lake. The temple was submerged because a dam was constructed, which caused flooding, and hence a lake was formed. You can take a boat ride to Phayao Lake to get closer to the temple. You can either rent the entire boat for 300 THB for yourself or wait for at least 6 people to join in for the boat to get started; this reduces the fare trip to 50 THB. A trip to this temple transports you to its glorious history and the remnants of its reverential past. Even today, it’s a well-known pilgrimage site, and visitors can also see a candlelight parade on the water surrounding Phra That Chedi Wat Thilok Aram at Lake Phayao on significant Buddhist days, such as Makha Bucha, Visakha Bucha, and Asalha Bucha.

Address: Tambon Mae Sai, Phayao 56000, Thailand

Wat Tilok Aram Temple Timings: 8:30 AM to 5 PM

2. Stop by Phu Sang Waterfall

Stop by Phu Sang Waterfall

While taking a day trip in Phayao, it is a good idea to stop by Phu Sang Waterfall. It is located just on the border between Phayao and Chiang Rai in Phu Sang National Park. This ethereal relaxation point provides a good vantage point to stop and relax before you head to explore more sites in Phayao province. The shallow waterfall flows throughout the year in the lush green forest. And the highlight is that this waterfall originates from a hot spring located higher up the hills, hence the water that flows down at a warm temperature. Just close to the waterfall is a nature trail and hot water spring, which you can access by paying 100 THB.

Address: National Highway 1093 Phu Sang, Phu Sang District, Phayao 56110, Thailand

Phu Sang National Park Timings: 8 AM to 5 PM

3. Witness the Sunset at Phayao Lake

Witness the Sunset at Phayao Lake

Out of the many things to do in Phayao, watching a sunset is definitely a must. There is nothing quite like watching an ethereal sunset sitting by a lakeside. It not only gives you serenity and time to pause and reflect, but it also makes for an amazing photo backdrop. As the sun sets on the horizon, the hues in the sky are worth capturing on your camera roll. The vibrant colours are charming, to say the least. If you’re visiting in the morning, you will witness people fishing, exercising, and jogging in the morning around Phayao Lake. The place is also lined with eateries along the waterfront of Phayao Lake. So make sure to grab a hearty meal and enjoy the ambiance of this place.

4. Try Kayaking and Paddle Boarding at Phayao Lake

Try Kayaking and Paddle Boarding at Phayao Lake

If you are in for some adventurous things to do in Phayao, hop on a kayak or maintain your balance on a paddle board. You can easily rent them from Cupcake Cafe, and it would cost around 150 THB for a few hours. The lake waters are tamed, and even first-timers can easily kayak their way and enjoy a memorable experience.

5. Take a Walk around Pho Khun Ngam Muang Monument

Take a Walk around Pho Khun Ngam Muang Monument

Just when you’re done soaking in the sunset and kayaking at Phayao Lake, take an evening stroll around the Pho Khun Ngam Muang monument. It is open 24 hours a day and is located inside a public park. This monument commemorates the growth period and prosperity of the kingdom of monarch Pho Kho Ng Mueang. It is a fun area to explore besides Phayao Lake before you head over to explore other places.

Address: Wiang, Mueang Phayao District, Phayao 56000, Thailand

6. Eat from the Phayao Walking Street

Eat from the Phayao Walking Street

Each Thai city, irrespective of its size, has its own unique walking street or weekend market that gives visitors a chance to explore and shop from local vendors. And if you wonder what to eat in Phayao, be ready to savour some delicious treats. If you’re visiting Phayao on a weekend, then you must check out this weekend market. Set up around Phayao Lake, you will find many carts selling delicious and cheap Thai food. Other food carts sell cookies, pastries, and delicious and frothy coffees with knick knacks.

7. Hike to Huai Pha Kiang Rock Sculptures

Hike to Huai Pha Kiang Rock Sculptures

Located inside Huai Pha Kiang Temple, these beautiful rock sculptures definitely deserve a place on the list of things to do in Phayao. This temple might seem abandoned at first, amidst lush trees outside Phayao City, but inside you will find some of the most stunning and serene Buddhist statues and sculptures. Due to its hidden location, many tourists who visit Phayao for a day trip or two skip this place. However, it’s completely worth checking out. The temple trail begins in the parking lot, and as you move ahead, you start seeing Buddha statues. It will take you a total of 15–20 minutes to do a complete hike in and around the temple.

8. Explore Doi Phu Nang National Park

Explore Doi Phu Nang National Park

Do explore Doi Phu Nang National Park on your trip to Phayao. This park is located 55 km south of Phayao City. Inside this park, you will find Than Sawan Waterfall, which is rejuvenating and refreshing. You can also take a quick dip in the waterfall. In addition, one can even do a short and quick nature trail inside the park. There is also a facility to go camping in the national park, which starts at 30 THB per person per night. Besides this, you can also rent a tent, some sleeping bags, and mattresses. The entrance fee to visit Doi Phu Nang National Park is 100 THB per person, 20 THB per bike, and 100 THB per car.

9. Click Photos of Wat Ananlayo

Click Photos of Wat Ananlayo

Built on Doi Butsarakham Mountain, Wat Anannlayo is a massive temple area sprawled across an area of more than 2500 acres. There are many beautiful sights and Buddhist architecture to capture on your camera roll. The first thing that draws the attention of the visitor is the colossal and gorgeous temple gate created out of red bricks and the Naga sculptures. These sculptures are wrapped around the stairs, moving up towards the temple ground. It will take about 5 minutes to reach the summit. Once you enter the temple, one can witness the giant golden statue of Buddha seated in a contemplative position.

10. Watch the Giant Buddha statue at Wat Si Khom Kham

Watch the Giant Buddha statue at Wat Si Khom Kham

Wat Si Khom Kham houses an impressive 17-metre-tall Buddha statue (in a seated position), which was crafted in the late 15th century. The Buddha statue was crafted using the Chiang Saen-Lanna hybrid style, which gives the statue a unique and unparalleled look. Apart from the Buddha statue, you can take a stroll through the temple and its hallways, visit Hell Park, the lake that is behind the temple, and click photos. Make sure to dress modestly when visiting the temple. The entry is free for everyone, and the timing of the temples starts from 8 AM to 6 PM

Address: 692 Mu 1, Phahon Yothin Road Mueang Phayao, Phayao

Wrap Up

There you have it—the 10 best activities to do in Phayao, ideal for those who are looking for some offbeat experiences in Thailand. While Bangkok, Phuket, and Krabi are top-visited destinations in Thailand, sometimes visiting an off-beat location can introduce us to a different aspect of this beautiful country. So pack your stuff, grab your passport, and get ready to visit one of the best offbeat places in Thailand: Phayao City.