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Sticking with the theme of random whims and legends, I headed north from Bangkok to the town of Phrae. Overall, it was mostly un-noteworthy except for a scene from a fringed postcard I came across in the back alleys of Bangkok one night. It showed what appeared to be artificial constructs, but like nothing I had seen or read about in Thailand.

Further research showed the pictures I’d seen ended up being a natural feature, despite looking archaeological. Still, something that had inspired so much research, I had to see myself. And anything which had historical significance enough to inspire stories and still be called “Phrae’s Ghost City” was certainly worth investigating.


Looks like it could be artificial, right?

Looks like it could be artificial, right?

The trip from Phrae to Phrae Muang Phi was a little bit of a confusing trek, but well worth it. On the way, I was treated to a good variety of scenery, including my small detour to the Temple of the Industrial Buddha.

Because it is not artificially constructed, the park is a “forest park” rather than a “historical park”. The unassuming parking lot led to 2 paths into the park. The higher path, which I first took, overlooks the Phrae Muang Phi formations and allows you to descend into them, but it isn’t the main entrance to the formation.


The main entrance to the formation.

The main entrance to the formation.

Panorama view from the top.

Panorama view from the top.

Phrae Muang Phi does indeed look artificial in many ways, but a simple closer look at the rocks reveals it could not be. Aside from the fact that the scale is far too small for the amount of effort that would be needed to carve so much, there are no other signs of Human habitation. Worship and ritual, perhaps, but not living.

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Me for some scale. They aren't so big.

Me for some scale. They aren’t so big.

Still, the rock formations were intriguing. But, I’m no geologist. The given theory, along with several other similar sites around Thailand, is that they were carved by unknown floodwaters, but there is certainly evidence that later peoples used them for various purposes, particularly in a similar site called Phu Phra Bat Park near Udon Thani.


What most of the rocks look like up close.

What most of the rocks look like up close.

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I was the only foreigner at the site, but I actually found myself explaining to a few other eager to speak English that it was not an archaeological site. I’m not sure I like correcting people about their own history, particularly a people as nationalistically proud as Thais, but they did seem genuinely interested.

The rest of the Phrae Muang Phi park has a few good hiking trails, but it isn’t too expansive past the main rock formations. I was done at the site within an hour and back off to the old, moated town of Phrae.

Benjamin Williams

Hi all, my name is Ben. I’m a native Michigander with a passion for human culture and new places, and more than that, new experiences. I have degrees in archaeology and writing, pursuing a career in the latter. However, I never quite lost that fascination for archaeological theory. For the past 11 years, I’ve been living and travelling between Asia, Europe, and North America, documenting ancient sites and the peoples who built them, and then adapting them into practical archaeological travel information at


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