The first thing I noticed was the weather, because Phrae was a different sort of Northern place - it was significantly drier and more humid than Chiang Mai, with a landscape that was quite unfamiliar to what we'd explored already. The feel of the city was much more bare than busy Chiang Mai, and felt quite simple and uncluttered. The best part about our trip was that a short drive outside the city in any direction took you straight into middle-of-nowhere Northern Thailand. Perfect!
This was the real highlight of the place; getting lost out on the open roads alongside lush rice paddies, mountainous backdrops, and long, winding highways to bigger, busier places than quaint old Phrae. As usual, everything I mention is marked on the map below, which you'll need as there is not much English to be found in this tourist-less little heaven.
Concrete Hotels & Slave-lovin' Families
Our twin room at the Mark Four Plaza Hotel.
|Mark Four Plaza Hotel: a little uninspiring.|
Back to Basics at Bua Khao
|Waking up in a cosy room at the Bua Khao Hotel.|
|Artwork in the bedroom.|
|Some of the pretty paintings hung around the hotel.|
Heavenly Khao Soy at Pun Jai
|The Pun Jai Restaurant sign to look out for.|
|The entrance to the restaurant.|
|Inside the restaurant.|
|Plates of fresh thingy-ma-bobs on every table.|
|These crunchy little fried chillies are excellent!|
|Delicious oily crushed chillies.|
|The busy serving table.|
|The finished product: lovely Phare Khao Soy, topped with fresh crispy noodles and a generous dollop of coconut cream.|
|Everything you need for a perfect Khao Soy.|
The Beautiful Outskirts
|Phae-Muang-Phi Forest Park, home to mushroom rocks and other unusual sights.|
|The first peek of the strange rocks.|
|Lost in translation.|
|The view from the top.|
That night we went out in search of a spot to have a beer and maybe even make some new Thai friends. We found a great little bar called บุหงา near the centre of town - unfortunately I have no idea what it goes by in English, or if there has ever been a need to give it an English name. It was one of the highlights of our trip, filled with interesting pop posters and dim, moody lighting. The beers were cheap, the staff were welcoming, and we enviously eyed all the delicious food being served everywhere around us. By the time we left in search of another bar, the place was completely packed inside and out, filled with pretty people who were all unbelievably friendly to us! We then moved onto the little nightlife strip near the bus station, which was also packed with happy locals, great music and ever-flowing drinks. We were actually ushered into a place by a group of young Thai's who then proceeded to buy us drinks and quiz us all about our lives in Thailand. We ended up having a fantastic time with our new friends and were pretty shocked that Phrae could offer up such a good night out!
|A huge assortment of cute knick-knacks and thingy-ma-bobs.|
|Super duper cool postcards.|
|Lovely pieces of art for sale.|
|The inside of the cafe.|