A Scenic Monk’s Trail Hike to Wat Pha Lat
Wat Pha Lat, situated in the lush jungle near Chiang Mai, offers an inviting experience. Hikers who take part in its famous Monk’s Trail hike will experience amazing landscapes along their journey.
For your own safety, when visiting Chiang Mai it is recommended that you take a songthaew (red truck; Chiang Mai’s public transportation system) from within its city center; one way costs approximately 150 baht per person.
The initial part of the Monk’s Trail is relatively easy and you are unlikely to run into other hikers along its length. It is well marked with orange cloth reminiscent of monk robes; this section typically takes 30-40 minutes of hiking time.
The rest of the trail may prove more challenging, yet still manageable for people in decent physical shape. You will mostly follow natural steps that don’t appear steep as some might expect; you will pass some more temples along your journey as well as monks who might just cross your path!
Once you arrive at Wat Pha Lat, take some time to just relax and take in the serene atmosphere. This temple complex seems hidden away in the forest; and its small no-name coffee shop makes for a good spot to refuel and relax. We prefer this lesser known option due to its more peaceful, serene vibe.
Legend has it that while carrying one of Buddha’s relics up Doi Suthep, a white elephant rested at this temple (Wat Pha Lat) before continuing its journey up Doi Suthep. Pha Lat means sloping cliff; according to legend, three times before continuing its journey up Doi Suthep.
After it had fallen into disrepair, a Burmese businessman restored it, giving some aspects of it an influence from Burmese architecture, especially in its main building. Once restored, this temple served primarily as a meditation spot and monk residence until becoming an alternative spot away from Doi Suthep’s more popular temples – offering visitors a quiet sanctuary that’s free from crowds yet offers great hiking experiences nonetheless! You can still hike part of Monk’s Trail from here for an enjoyable hiking experience all day!
Monk’s Trail provides a moderately challenging hike through several steep and rocky sections, taking approximately 30-40 minutes at a steady pace to cover its distance and explore Wat Pha Lat. To extend their adventure and trek up Doi Suthep will add another 1.5 hours onto their itinerary.
Locating the Monk’s Trail hike is straightforward: just head down Suthep Alley until it ends at two green signs that mark its start, where there will be two big signs for Chiang Mai Zoo. From there, simply turn right and follow straight until the road ends at two green signs that indicate its start – that will mark where it all begins!
Trails in the jungle are clearly marked with orange strips of cloth tied around trees, making sure you never become lost in its depths. Bring at least a liter of water and snacks for snacks with you – as well as sturdy hiking shoes – in case any missteps occur on your journey.
On your journey up Monk’s Trail, you’ll discover lush forests of ferns, orchids, bamboo and other beautiful plants; bird song will fill your ears; aromas from flowers and herbs will surround you; not to mention its majestic temple with golden statues and an eye-catching stupa.
Wat Pha Lat was initially built to serve as a rest stop for pilgrims traveling to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Unfortunately, after its condition worsened further in 1934, an influential Burmese businessman funded its restoration through financing from an external donor; evidenced in its newer temple buildings featuring designs heavily influenced by Burmese culture.
Today, Wat Pha Lat is an idyllic site of worship and meditation. Although not as well-known as Doi Suthep, Wat Pha Lat still draws plenty of tourists and locals who visit it frequently for meditation and worship services. Trekkers who choose this mountain will be rewarded with breathtaking views that offer an escape from city center bustle – providing a refreshing respite.
Hiking to Wat Pha Lat is an exhilarating challenge that will surely reward anyone willing to accept its challenge. The paths are well-worn, suggesting that thousands have trodden through the jungle over many years to arrive at this temple site. There may not be many major sights along the way, but trekking through nature provides peace like few experiences can do. As you trek through lush foliage a breathtaking waterfall may come into view depending on rainfall levels in the area.
Once at the temple, be prepared to take a breather as its steep trail can become tiring and tiring during rainy seasons; wear appropriate footwear in these cases and always carry a flashlight for evening exploration as certain areas may prove more challenging than expected.
This temple stands out among others around Chiang Mai due to its unique setting: hidden within dense forest. Originally created as a rest stop for pilgrims traveling towards Doi Suthep in 14th-century Thailand, later expanded by Luang Yonakarn Phichit after realizing how special this site was.
As well as its peaceful surroundings, this temple stands out for its architecture and artwork created by Kruba Srivichai during the 1900s that is similar to Burmese art.
Wat Pha Lat stands out among Thai temples as one of the few where it is mandatory for visitors to wear a sarong, or wrap-around skirt, as a mark of respect and to show that they are present as guests of Buddhism culture. This practice shows your respect and shows them you respect their tradition when visiting.
If you’re planning to hike to this temple, starting from Monk’s Trail may be easiest. Either rent a scooter from the city center or hop aboard one of Chiang Mai University’s red songtaew trucks with parallel benches – both options should cost approximately 150THB one way and should take only minutes from there to arrive at its starting point at Chiang Mai University.
If you’re willing to put in extra effort, this part of the Monk’s Trail will prove quite rewarding. After descending from Doi Suthep via steep steps, head down until reaching Wat Pha Lat and continue down its path until reaching Wat Pha Lat – a peaceful sanctuary perfect for meditation or just relaxation.
As soon as you step inside the monastery, its uniqueness becomes immediately evident. Secluded among lush green jungle, its entire structure stands out like an invisible gem on a mountainside.
In 1934, a wealthy Burmese businessman set out to restore the temple. He constructed new temple buildings across from its disrepair-ridden predecessor; during this time period, these newer temples took on more of a Burmese feel as can be seen through their decorations and statues inside its main hall.
Though there are other means of accessing Doi Suthep, hiking up the “Monk’s Trail” is the ultimate experience! This scenic trek leads along a ridge which offers panoramic views of valleys and mountains below – not too strenuous of an endeavour, yet well worth your while with amazing sights that are worth every effort put forth on this walk!
Before embarking on your hike, it is wise to pack at least a liter of water and some snacks. In addition, be sure to bring mosquito repellent as there may be plenty of mozzies lurking about in the jungle. Additionally, wear comfortable shoes and cover your shoulders and knees if entering temple grounds respectfully.
Chiang Mai University can be reached via songtaew (red public transportation truck). A chartered songtaew costs approximately 150THB one way from within the city center; your driver will indicate when to get off by waving their hand from the front of the vehicle.
The route begins with a short stroll through the forest, eventually leading to a private house. From there, a path will start on the left and eventually transform into a stairway that leads up behind Doi Suthep’s monastery and beyond! At Doi Suthep you will be treated to stunning views of its golden chedi!