Wat Pha Lat is a hidden gem nestled in the lush forests of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Unlike other temples found in the city center, this one is surrounded by verdant greenery, adding to its mystique and charm. The temple is also known as the “Monastery at the Sloping Rock” and was built during the reign of King Kuena in the 14th century.
Visitors to Wat Pha Lat will have to take a short but rewarding hike to get there. The hike is along a well-marked trail and takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour. The trail winds through the jungle, passing by a tranquil stream and several buildings that are scattered among the forest. The sacred retreat is built in harmony with nature in such a way that it’s difficult to tell where the buildings end and the forest begins.
History and Significance
Wat Pha Lat, also known as the Monastery at the Sloping Rock, is a hidden gem located on the jungled slopes of Doi Suthep above Chiang Mai. The temple dates back to the 14th century during the reign of King Kuena, who ordered its construction after his white elephant died at the site of Wat Doi Suthep. According to legend, a monk named Sumanathera found part of Buddha’s shoulder bone and brought it to the king. He placed the holy relic on the back of the white elephant and sent it into the jungle to look for a new home. When the elephant reached the site of Wat Pha Lat, it trumpeted three times before laying down and dying, indicating to the king that this was the new home for the relic.
Originally, Wat Pha Lat was a resting place for monks during their pilgrimage to the larger temple atop the hill, but after the road was built in 1935, its primary use shifted to a meditation site for monks. The temple was abandoned for many years until a group of local residents and monks began restoring it in 2004. Today, it is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike who want to experience the peaceful and serene atmosphere of this hidden temple.
One of the most unique aspects of Wat Pha Lat is its location. Unlike other temples in Chiang Mai, it is nestled in the lush forests, and visitors must take a short but rewarding hike to get there. The hike takes about 45 minutes to an hour, and along the way, you’ll encounter beautiful waterfalls and stunning views of the city below. This hike is also known as the Monk’s Trail, and it is a peaceful and reflective journey that allows visitors to connect with nature and experience the tranquility of the temple.
In conclusion, Wat Pha Lat is a hidden gem that is steeped in history and significance. Its location, history, and peaceful atmosphere make it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Chiang Mai. Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover, or simply looking for a peaceful and reflective experience, Wat Pha Lat is sure to leave a lasting impression on you.
If you want to visit Wat Pha Lat, there are a few ways to get there. One of the most popular ways is by songthaew, which is a shared red taxi that is commonly used in Chiang Mai.
To get to Wat Pha Lat by songthaew, you will need to go to the end of Suthep Road, which is located near Chiang Mai University. From there, you can take a songthaew that will take you to the rear entrance of Chiang Mai Zoo. Once you get off the songthaew, you will need to walk forward and turn right at the intersection. This will lead you to the trailhead of the Monk’s Trail, which is the starting point of the hike to Wat Pha Lat.
It is important to note that songthaews are shared taxis, so you may have to wait for other passengers before the driver departs. The fare for a songthaew ride to Wat Pha Lat is around 40-50 baht per person, but it may vary depending on the time of day and the number of passengers.
If you are traveling with a group, you can also rent a private songthaew to take you to Wat Pha Lat. This will give you more flexibility in terms of departure time and route. The cost of a private songthaew ride may be higher than a shared one, but it can be a more convenient option if you are traveling with a larger group.
Overall, taking a songthaew to Wat Pha Lat is a convenient and affordable way to get there. Just make sure to bring cash for the fare and be prepared to wait for other passengers if you are taking a shared taxi.
Hiking to Wat Pha Lat
If you’re looking for a peaceful and scenic hike in Chiang Mai, the Monk’s Trail to Wat Pha Lat is a great option. This hidden jungle temple is located on the way to Doi Suthep and offers stunning views of the city. Here are some details about the trailhead and difficulty of the hike.
The trailhead for the Monk’s Trail to Wat Pha Lat is located at the end of Suthep Road, near Chiang Mai University. You can take a red shared taxi (songthaew) to this point. From here, you will walk forward and turn right at the intersection, heading towards the rear entry of Chiang Mai Zoo.
Once you pass the zoo, you will see a sign for the Monk’s Trail and a small path leading into the jungle. The trail is marked with orange ribbons and is easy to follow. It will take you through the lush forest and past a waterfall before reaching Wat Pha Lat.
The Monk’s Trail to Wat Pha Lat is considered an easy hike, but it does involve some uphill sections and stairs. The distance to the temple is around 2.9 km (1.8 miles) there-and-back, with an elevation gain of 187 m (614 feet) and the highest point of elevation at 635 m (2084 feet).
While the hike itself is not too challenging, it’s important to come prepared. Wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water. It’s also a good idea to bring mosquito repellent, as the jungle can be quite buggy.
Overall, the hike to Wat Pha Lat is a great way to escape the city and enjoy some nature. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning views!
The Temple Complex
Wat Pha Lat is a hidden gem in Chiang Mai, nestled in the lush forest and accessible only by a short hike. The temple complex is a serene and peaceful place, with stunning views and a sense of tranquility that is hard to find in the city. Here are some of the highlights of the temple complex:
Shrines and Chedi
The temple complex has several shrines and a beautiful chedi that is an important part of the complex. The shrines are beautifully decorated with intricate carvings and gold leaf, and are a great place to sit and meditate. The chedi is also stunning, with a golden spire that glimmers in the sunlight. Visitors can climb to the top of the chedi for a breathtaking view of the surrounding forest.
There are several Buddha statues throughout the temple complex, each with its own unique style and character. The largest Buddha statue is located in the main shrine, and is a beautiful example of traditional Thai art. Visitors can also find smaller Buddha statues scattered throughout the complex, each with its own unique story and significance.
One of the most unique features of the temple complex is the Naga Staircase, which is a long staircase leading up to the main shrine. The staircase is flanked by two large serpent statues, which are said to protect the temple from evil spirits. The staircase is a great place to take photos and enjoy the view of the surrounding forest.
Visitors to the temple complex will notice that many of the trees and shrubs are wrapped in orange cloth. This is a traditional Thai practice, and is said to bring good luck and prosperity. The orange cloth also adds a beautiful splash of color to the forest, and is a unique and interesting feature of the temple complex.
In conclusion, the temple complex at Wat Pha Lat is a beautiful and peaceful place, with many interesting features and unique traditions. Visitors to Chiang Mai should not miss the opportunity to visit this hidden gem and experience the tranquility and beauty of the temple complex.
Meditation and Retreats
Wat Pha Lat is a peaceful temple that offers visitors the opportunity to experience meditation and retreats. The temple is located on the lower slopes of Doi Suthep and is built above a waterfall, making it an ideal location for those seeking a quiet and serene environment for their meditation practice.
The temple offers various meditation retreats, including half-day and full-day retreats, as well as longer retreats that last several days. Visitors can participate in guided meditation sessions and learn different meditation techniques from experienced teachers. The retreats also include periods of silence, which allow participants to fully immerse themselves in their practice and connect with their inner selves.
One of the unique features of Wat Pha Lat is its monk chat program, where visitors can have a one-on-one conversation with a monk and learn more about Buddhism and meditation. This program offers a great opportunity to gain insight into the teachings of Buddhism and ask questions about meditation and mindfulness.
The temple also has a meditation hall that is open to visitors for individual meditation practice. The hall is a quiet and peaceful space that is perfect for those who want to meditate in a group setting or on their own. Visitors can also participate in walking meditation on the temple grounds, which is a great way to connect with nature and cultivate mindfulness.
Overall, Wat Pha Lat is an excellent destination for those who want to experience meditation and retreats in a serene and peaceful environment. The temple offers a range of programs and activities that cater to both beginners and experienced meditators, making it a great choice for anyone who wants to deepen their practice and connect with their inner selves.
Natural Beauty and Views
Wat Pha Lat is a hidden gem nestled in the lush green mountain of Chiang Mai. The temple offers a serene and peaceful environment, surrounded by natural beauty and breathtaking views. Visitors can enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and explore the surrounding jungle and forest.
One of the highlights of Wat Pha Lat is the beautiful waterfall located just a few minutes’ walk from the temple. The waterfall is a popular spot for visitors to take photos and enjoy the cool misty breeze. The sound of the waterfall is also very calming and adds to the overall peacefulness of the temple.
Jungle and Forest
The temple is surrounded by a dense jungle and forest, which provides a natural and serene environment. Visitors can take a stroll along the jungle path and enjoy the beautiful flora and fauna. The jungle and forest also offer a respite from the heat, making it a perfect place to relax and unwind.
Wat Pha Lat offers several viewpoints that provide stunning panoramic views of Chiang Mai. The viewpoints are located along the jungle path and offer breathtaking views of the city. Visitors can take a break and enjoy the scenery while taking in the fresh mountain air.
In summary, Wat Pha Lat offers a unique and peaceful experience for visitors looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The natural beauty and views of the temple make it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Chiang Mai.
Tips for Visitors
When planning a visit to Wat Pha Lat, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips to help make the most of your visit:
What to Wear
As a temple, Wat Pha Lat has a dress code that visitors are expected to follow. This includes covering your shoulders and knees, and avoiding clothing that is too revealing or tight-fitting. It’s also a good idea to wear comfortable clothing and shoes, as the hike to the temple can be steep and uneven in places.
Snacks and Water
It’s important to stay hydrated during the hike to Wat Pha Lat, especially if you’re visiting during the hot and humid months. Bringing a refillable water bottle is a good idea, as there are no vendors selling drinks along the trail. You may also want to bring some snacks to keep your energy levels up, as the hike can take around 30-45 minutes each way.
As mentioned, the hike to Wat Pha Lat can be steep and uneven in places, so it’s important to wear appropriate footwear. Sneakers or hiking shoes with good grip are recommended, as the trail can be slippery in places, especially after rain. Sandals or flip-flops are not recommended, as they can be uncomfortable and may not provide enough support.
Overall, visiting Wat Pha Lat is a rewarding experience that is well worth the effort of the hike. By following these tips, you can ensure a comfortable and enjoyable visit to this beautiful temple in the heart of the Chiang Mai jungle.
Wat Pha Lat is a hidden gem that is worth visiting during your trip to Chiang Mai. This peaceful temple is surrounded by nature and offers a unique experience that you won’t find in the city center.
One of the best times to visit Wat Pha Lat is early in the morning when the temple is quiet and the air is cool. The hike to the temple is not too challenging, and the views along the way are stunning. The trail is well-marked, and you’ll find plenty of signs to guide you to the temple.
Once you reach the temple, you’ll be greeted with a serene atmosphere that will make you forget all about the hustle and bustle of the city. The temple is small, but it’s full of character and history. You can spend some time exploring the temple and taking in the beautiful surroundings.
Overall, Wat Pha Lat is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves nature and wants to experience a hidden temple in Chiang Mai. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, this temple is sure to leave a lasting impression on you.