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The former center of Thailand’s teak industry, Phrae features many old teak mansions as well as protected forests ideal for hiking and spotting exotic wildlife.An old and important community of Northern Thailand, Phrae was founded after Chiang Mai had been established as the capital of the Lanna Thai kingdom. Phrae contains one of the largest reserves of teak forests in the country and is located on the banks of the Yom River, 555 kilometers north of Bangkok Like Chiang Mai, Phrae retained its fortified old city, while the new city grew around it. While the new city is charming enough, the old one contains sleepy alleyway lined with teak houses that are outstanding examples of traditional Thai architecture and a number of beautiful temples. Many of these immense teak mansions were constructed by European traders who were engaged in the teak trade back in the 19th century. In the surrounding province, there are several national parks, some remote hill tribe villages, and a number of stands of teak, which are now widely protected from loggers.Phrae is a province steeped in legend and that’s no surprise as the city was founded around the same time as the Lanna and Sukhothai Kingdoms nearly 800 years ago. Renowned for its vast teak forests, Phrae features a number of colonial style teak homes and mountainous forests including three national parks. There are a number of hill tribe communities in the countryside as well as villages where traditional handicrafts are produced. Those looking to expand their knowledge of the local culture can even spend some time at the local folklore museum or explore the quiet alleyways of the city’s old town, where many old and beautiful temples and teak mansions can be found.