Wandering through the streets of Phrae in Northern Thailand, I could not help but get a sense of deja vu as I surveyed the walled old town and the many photogenic temples, teakwood mansions and museums dotting the enclosure. My guidebook described Phrae as having similarities to Luangprabang in Laos and surveying the sights around me, I’m inclined to agree. Phrae to most is a rather unknown place, even for Thais as its namesake province only came into Thailand’s (then known as Siam) control around a century ago and its relative “isolation” is part of the charm.
the unusual structure of wat chom sawan
With a population of slightly less than 20,000, Phrae is a rather quiet town with its tourist attractions concentrated mainly inside the walled city. I had visited during a weekend but found other tourists sparse, local weekenders included. After getting off the bus from my 2 hour journey from Nan, I immediately walked towards Wat Chom Sawan which is just a few blocks away. I was struck by the unusual architecture of the main prayer hall. departing from the Lanna style that I see all over these parts. Most guidebooks describe the style of Wat Chom Sawan as Burmese, but having visited Burma a couple of times before, I really could not see the similarity. The temple is noted for the heavy use of wood and multi-tiered roofs, a style which is pretty unusual for Thai temples.