Virtually enveloped by mountains and valleys, Phayao is a  peaceful province. Though with only modest facilities and conveniences, it is an enchanting community with delightful natural beauty and fascinating religious sites. Dating back more than 900 years, it used to be an independent state with its own rulers before it became a part of the Lanna Thai kingdom in mid-14 th century. Phayao is about 691 kilometres from Bangkok and covers an area of 6,335 square kilometres.

:: Attractions

Dating from the 12th century and situated by the lake is Wat Sri Khom Kham. Known among locals as Wat Phra Chao Ton Luang, the modern wiharn (prayer hall) houses a 16th century, late Chiang Saen-style Buddha image that is 16-m tall, believed to be the largest image in the northern region. Surrounding the wiharn are thirty-eight Buddha heads designed in the Phayao style, featuring rounded heads and pointed noses, dating from the 14th century. The temple buildings are enclosed by an attractive garden presenting a portrayal of Heaven and Hell.

Wat Sri Umong Dum houses a chedi that dates back to the Chiang Saen period but is still remarkably intact. It also contains another Buddha image that is highly revered by the townspeople, Luang Phor Ngam Muang Ruang Rit, or commonly known as Phra Chao Lantu, the supremest example of Lanna artwork with the distinctive artform of Phu Kamyao.

The King Ngum Muang Memorial , situated in front of the municipal park, was erected in honor of the great ruler who brought peace and prosperity to Phu Kamyao. He fostered a powerful alliance with King Mengrai of Chiang Rai and King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai.

Kwan Phayao is an important water resource area, because it is the most important site of freshwater farming in the entire upper northern region, especially for the giant Mekong (pla buek) catfish. The natural lake is also the nation's third largest freshwater resource and is an important irrigation source. The word'kwan' comes from the local dialect meaning'lake'. There are a lot of food shops located along the bank, suitable for dining and relaxing in the evening or during the sunset. Situated in the heart of town, it boasts beautiful and tranquil scenery of lush green hills overlapping each other.

Within the town, the Phayao Freshwater Fishery Station was the first place in the world to successfully breed the gigantic pla buek catfish, found only in the Mekong River. The center has displays of different species of fish and breeding pools of various fishes they are trying to preserve.

Situated at the top of the Bussaracum Hills in town, Wat Ananlayo contains a large courtyard and many structures, including a large Sukhothai-style Buddha image, Buddha images in various postures, and a replica of the Emerald Buddha's Chapel. It also offers a panoramic view of the city and lake.

Covering parts of Phayao, Chiang Rai, and Lampang provinces, the Doi Luang National Park features many spectacular waterfalls, such as Poo Keng Falls, Champa Thong Falls, Pa Klet Nak Falls, and Chang Falls.

Experts believe the Wiang Lor Historical Park , or Muang Phra Lor, was established during the reign of King Ngum Muang. The park contains many ruins, including the old city walls and temples, particularly the significant Wat Sri Ping Muang, an ancient temple.

Outside of town is another hilltop temple, Wat King Kaeng , which features a Lanna-style chedi and offers a great view of surrounding areas.

The tribal Thai Lue communities of Chiang Khum and Chiang Muan districts, are ethnic minorities related to the Tai people of southern China who emigrated from there and settled in Thailand over a century ago. Most interesting are the attractive Thai Lue fabrics, produced from either silk or cotton and hand woven on traditional looms which can be found in any villages in Chiang Khum. The Thai Lue people have established their own cultural center at Ban Yuan Village in Chiang Kham, to promote craft skill training and preserve their culture, which is entirely unique from those of other tribes.