Wat Pha Lat Hike: Discover the Tranquil Monk’s Trail in Chiang Mai

If you’re looking for a peaceful and scenic hike in Chiang Mai, then the Wat Pha Lat Hike on the Monk’s Trail is a must-do. The trail takes you through the lush jungle of Doi Suthep Mountain and leads to the serene Wat Pha Lat Temple, a hidden gem that offers a tranquil escape from the bustling city.

The hike starts at the Monk’s Trail trailhead, which is accessible by songthaew or motorbike. The trail is well-marked with trail signs, so it’s easy to find your way. The first part of the trail is a gentle climb through the forest, where you’ll encounter ancient Buddha statues, shrines, and charming bridges over streams. As you ascend higher, the trail becomes rockier and steeper, but the reward is worth it. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains, as well as a small waterfall and a peaceful monastery at the sloping rock.

It’s important to note that this is a sacred trail, and visitors are expected to show respect and follow the rules. Visitors should dress appropriately, cover their shoulders and knees, and bring a sarong to cover up if necessary. It’s also important to be quiet and mindful, as the trail is used by monks for meditation retreats. Visitors are welcome to make a donation to the temple, which helps to maintain the trail and the temple. Overall, the Wat Pha Lat Hike is an accessible and rewarding experience that offers a glimpse into the peaceful and spiritual side of Chiang Mai.

Getting to Wat Pha Lat

When planning a hike to Wat Pha Lat, it’s important to consider the transportation options available to get to the trailhead. Here are two popular ways to get to Wat Pha Lat:

By Songthaew

One of the easiest ways to get to Wat Pha Lat is by taking a songthaew. These red shared taxis are a common mode of transportation in Chiang Mai and can be found throughout the city. To get to the trailhead, take a songthaew to the end of Suthep Road, near Chiang Mai University. From there, you can walk forward and turn right at the intersection, heading towards the rear entry of Chiang Mai Zoo. The trailhead is located at the end of Pilgrim’s Path road.

By Motorbike

Another option for getting to Wat Pha Lat is by motorbike. Renting a motorbike is a popular option for travelers in Chiang Mai and can be a convenient way to explore the city and surrounding areas. To get to the trailhead, head towards Chiang Mai University and follow Suthep Road until you reach the end. From there, turn right at the intersection and head towards the rear entry of Chiang Mai Zoo. The trailhead is located at the end of Pilgrim’s Path road.

It’s worth noting that the road leading up to Wat Pha Lat can be quite steep and narrow in some places, so it’s important to be cautious when driving a motorbike. Additionally, parking can be limited at the trailhead, so it’s best to arrive early in the morning to secure a spot.

No matter how you choose to get to Wat Pha Lat, the hike up the Monk’s Trail is a rewarding experience that offers stunning views of the surrounding jungle and cityscape.

The Trailhead

The Monk’s Trail to Wat Pha Lat begins at the base of Doi Suthep mountain, just past Chiang Mai University. The trailhead is fairly easy to find these days because the location is marked on Google Maps.

The hike begins after a 1 km uphill climb along a winding road. You will see a signboard pointing to the Monk’s Trail, and from there, the trail is clearly marked.

The trailhead is accessible by car or motorbike, and there is a small parking area available. If you don’t have your own transportation, you can take a Songthaew (red truck) from the city center to Chiang Mai University and then walk up the hill to the trailhead.

Before starting the hike, it is recommended to use the restroom facilities at the trailhead, as there are no facilities available along the trail. It is also advisable to bring plenty of water and wear comfortable walking shoes as the trail can be steep and rocky in some places.

Overall, the trailhead to the Monk’s Trail is easily accessible and well-marked, making it a great option for those looking for a peaceful and scenic hike in Chiang Mai.

The Hike

The hike to Wat Pha Lat is a moderately challenging trek that takes you through the lush jungle of Chiang Mai. The trail is divided into three distinct sections: the Jungle Trail, the Rocky Trail, and the Naga Staircase. Each section offers a unique experience and presents its own set of challenges.

The Jungle Trail

The Jungle Trail is the first part of the hike and takes you through a dense forest filled with towering trees, vines, and roots. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, but the terrain can be slippery and uneven. As you make your way through the jungle, you will come across a stream and several Buddha statues hidden among the trees. Keep an eye out for wildlife, as you may spot some monkeys swinging through the branches.

The Rocky Trail

The Rocky Trail is the second section of the hike and is characterized by steep inclines and rocky terrain. This part of the hike can be challenging, especially if you’re not used to hiking on uneven surfaces. However, the views from the top are well worth the effort. You’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding jungle and cityscape.

The Naga Staircase

The Naga Staircase is the final section of the hike and is arguably the most challenging. The staircase is made up of steep stone steps that lead to the temple at the top of the mountain. The steps are flanked by giant serpent statues, which add to the mystical atmosphere of the hike. Take your time on the staircase, as it can be slippery and tiring. Once you reach the top, you’ll be greeted by the serene Wat Pha Lat temple and its stunning views.

Overall, the Wat Pha Lat hike is a must-do for any adventurous traveler visiting Chiang Mai. The hike offers a unique opportunity to explore the lush jungle and experience the beauty of the region’s natural landscape. Just remember to wear comfortable shoes, bring plenty of water, and take your time on the trail.

Wat Pha Lat Temple

If you’re looking for a peaceful and serene place to visit in Chiang Mai, then Wat Pha Lat Temple should be on your list. This hidden gem is located in the jungle and can only be reached by hiking up the Monk’s Trail. Here are some things you should know about this temple.

History and Charm

Wat Pha Lat Temple was built in the 14th century and was originally used as a resting place for people walking up to worship at Doi Suthep. However, once the road was built in 1935, making Doi Suthep much more accessible, Wat Pha Lat became a monks’ residence.

The temple is surrounded by lush greenery and has a peaceful atmosphere that will make you forget about the hustle and bustle of the city. The charm of Wat Pha Lat lies in its simplicity and natural beauty.

The Monastery at the Sloping Rock

Wat Pha Lat translates to “Monastery at the Sloping Rock” in Thai. The temple is built on a hill and has a sloping rock formation that adds to its natural beauty. The monastery is small and has a rustic feel to it. You can see the living quarters of the monks and learn about their way of life.

The Chedi and Shrines

The main attraction of Wat Pha Lat Temple is the chedi, which is a stupa that contains relics of the Buddha. The chedi is surrounded by smaller shrines that contain statues of Buddha and other deities. The shrines are beautifully decorated with flowers and other offerings.

Meditation Retreat

Wat Pha Lat Temple is also a great place to practice meditation. The temple offers meditation retreats where you can learn the art of mindfulness and meditation. The retreats are led by experienced monks who will guide you through the process.

In conclusion, Wat Pha Lat Temple is a must-visit destination in Chiang Mai. The temple’s natural beauty, simplicity, and peaceful atmosphere make it a perfect place to escape the city’s hustle and bustle. Whether you’re interested in learning about Buddhism, practicing meditation, or simply enjoying the scenery, Wat Pha Lat Temple has something for everyone.

The Small Waterfall

As you hike up the Monk’s Trail towards Wat Pha Lat, you will come across a small waterfall that is a refreshing sight to behold. The waterfall is located about halfway up the trail, and it is a great spot to take a break and cool off.

The waterfall is not very big, but it is still a beautiful sight. The water cascades down the rocks and into a small pool below. The pool is not very deep, but it is a great place to splash around and cool off on a hot day. The water is clear and cool, and it is safe to drink if you have a water bottle with you.

The waterfall is surrounded by lush greenery, and there are plenty of rocks to sit on and enjoy the view. You can also take some great photos of the waterfall and the surrounding jungle. If you are lucky, you may even spot some wildlife, such as birds or butterflies.

Overall, the small waterfall on the Monk’s Trail is a great spot to take a break and enjoy the beauty of nature. It is a must-see attraction on your hike to Wat Pha Lat, and it is a great way to cool off and refresh yourself before continuing on the trail. So don’t forget to bring your water bottle and take some time to enjoy the small waterfall on your journey.

Respecting the Temple and Monks

When hiking the Monk’s Trail to Wat Pha Lat, it’s important to show respect to the temple and the monks who reside there. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Dress Appropriately

As with any Buddhist temple, it’s important to dress modestly and respectfully. This means covering your shoulders and knees, and avoiding any clothing with offensive language or images. It’s also a good idea to remove your shoes before entering the temple grounds.

Keep Quiet

Wat Pha Lat is a place of meditation and reflection, so it’s important to keep noise to a minimum. Avoid talking loudly or playing music, and try to maintain a peaceful and respectful atmosphere.

Don’t Touch or Point

When inside the temple, it’s important to refrain from touching any of the religious artifacts or pointing at any of the statues or images. This is considered disrespectful in Buddhist culture.

Follow the Rules

Be sure to follow any posted rules or guidelines, such as not taking photos in certain areas or refraining from smoking or drinking alcohol on the temple grounds.

Respect the Monks

If you encounter any monks during your visit, it’s important to show them respect. This means avoiding any physical contact, speaking quietly and politely, and refraining from taking photos of them without their permission.

Appreciate the Nature

Wat Pha Lat is located in a beautiful natural setting, so be sure to take the time to appreciate the scenery and wildlife. However, it’s important to avoid disturbing any plants or animals, and to leave the area as you found it.

By following these simple guidelines, you can show your respect for the temple and the monks who reside there, while also enjoying the peaceful and serene atmosphere of Wat Pha Lat.

Tips for the Hike

If you plan to hike the Monk’s Trail to Wat Pha Lat, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

What to Wear

Wear comfortable and breathable clothing suitable for hiking. Avoid denim and choose lightweight, quick-drying fabrics. It is best to wear shoes with good traction, such as sneakers, hiking shoes, or trail runners. Sandals are not recommended as the trail can be slippery and rocky. Bring a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.

What to Bring

Bring a small backpack to carry your essentials, such as water, snacks, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent. A sarong or scarf can be useful to cover your shoulders when visiting the temple. It is also recommended to bring a small first aid kit and a flashlight. If you plan to hike without a guide, bring a map or download a GPS app to avoid getting lost.

Cost and Donation

There is no entrance fee to hike the Monk’s Trail or to visit Wat Pha Lat. However, it is customary to make a donation at the temple to support its upkeep and maintenance. You can also purchase food and drinks at the food stalls near the temple.

Other Tips

The hike to Wat Pha Lat can be steep in some places and may require some physical effort. Take your time and rest when needed. Use the stairs and handrails provided to avoid slipping or falling. Be mindful of your surroundings and respect the ancient temple and its peacefulness. If you are unsure about the trail or have any questions, ask a guide or a local for assistance.

By following these tips, you can enjoy a safe and memorable hike to Wat Pha Lat and experience the beauty of Chiang Mai’s jungle temple.