Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram: A Guide to Chiang Mai’s Oldest Buddhist Temple

Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram is a Buddhist temple and meditation retreat located in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The temple is affiliated with Mahā Nikāya and has been teaching insight meditation since 1973. The retreat aims to provide insight as a way to prepare a path to a better, peaceful life through a clear understanding of oneself.

The Vipassana meditation practice is a core component of Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram’s teachings. The Northern Insight Meditation Center welcomes all who are willing to learn the Vipassana meditation practice for developing the mind. The center’s abbot, Phra Ajarn Tong Sirimangalo, is a renowned meditation teacher who has been teaching Vipassana meditation for over 50 years. He was appointed as the abbot of Wat Phra Tat Srichomthong by the Buddhist Supreme Patriarch in 1991.

The meditation retreat at Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram is a unique experience for travelers who want to tap into the power of meditation during their travels. The retreat offers a peaceful environment where visitors can focus on developing their minds and gaining insight into themselves. The retreat’s teachings are based on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, which are mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of feelings, mindfulness of mind, and mindfulness of phenomena.

History and Background

Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram is a Buddhist temple and meditation retreat located in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The temple has a rich history that dates back to World War II.


During World War II, Wat Ram Poeng was abandoned and left in ruins. However, in 1951, the temple was revived by Prakrupipatkanapiban, a monk who moved in and began rebuilding the temple. The temple was then named Tapotaram, which means “heat” or “endeavor” in honor of the monk’s efforts to restore it.


In 1974, Prasuprommayanna Thera became the abbot of Wat Ram Poeng and began a major reconstruction project. The temple was transformed into a meditation center that focused on the practice of Vipassana meditation. The center quickly gained popularity and attracted visitors from all over the world.

Today, Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram is one of the most renowned meditation centers in Thailand. The center offers a variety of meditation programs and retreats, ranging from one-day workshops to month-long retreats.

Visitors to Wat Ram Poeng can experience the peaceful and serene atmosphere of the temple, learn about Buddhist teachings and meditation practices, and immerse themselves in Thai culture. The temple is open to visitors year-round and welcomes people of all religions and backgrounds.

Overall, Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in meditation, Buddhism, or Thai culture. Its rich history, beautiful surroundings, and welcoming atmosphere make it a truly unique and unforgettable experience.

Teachings and Practice

At Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram, the teachings and practice are based on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, which include contemplation of the body, feelings, mind, and mind objects. These teachings are rooted in the Buddhist tradition and have been taught at Wat Ram Poeng since 1973 by Phra Ajarn Tong Sirimangalo.

Four Foundations of Mindfulness

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness are a cornerstone of the practice at Wat Ram Poeng. Contemplation of the body involves observing physical sensations and the breath. Contemplation of feelings involves observing emotions and sensations in the body. Contemplation of the mind involves observing thoughts and mental states. Contemplation of mind objects involves observing the nature of perception and consciousness.

Mahasi Sayadaw Techniques

Wat Ram Poeng also teaches Mahasi Sayadaw techniques, which involve noting or labeling mental and physical phenomena as they arise in the present moment. This technique is used to develop mindfulness and concentration, and is often used in intensive meditation retreats.

Intensive Vipassana Meditation

Wat Ram Poeng offers a 26-day basic course in Vipassana Meditation, which is an intensive meditation practice that involves long periods of sitting and walking meditation. The course is conducted under the guidance of a teacher and is open to anyone who is willing to learn and practice.

In addition to the formal teachings and practice, Wat Ram Poeng also offers Dhamma Talks, which are talks given by senior monks on various topics related to Buddhism and meditation. These talks are open to the public and are a great way to deepen one’s understanding of the teachings and practice.

Overall, the teachings and practice at Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram are rooted in tradition and offer a rigorous and comprehensive approach to meditation and mindfulness. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced meditator, Wat Ram Poeng offers a supportive and challenging environment for deepening your practice.

Daily Life

When staying at Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram, visitors will experience a unique daily routine that is centered around mindfulness and meditation. Here are some key aspects of daily life at the temple:

Daily Routine

The daily routine at Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram is designed to promote mindfulness and meditation. Visitors are expected to wake up early and participate in morning chanting and meditation sessions. The rest of the day is spent in silent meditation or engaged in other activities related to the temple. The evening ends with another group meditation session.


All meals at Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram are vegetarian and are served in a communal dining hall. Visitors are expected to eat mindfully and in silence, focusing on the flavors and textures of the food. The temple provides three meals a day, and visitors are not allowed to bring outside food onto the premises.


Visitors to Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram stay in simple, modest accommodations that are designed to promote a sense of mindfulness and simplicity. Accommodations consist of individual rooms with a bed, a small table, and a fan. Visitors are expected to keep their rooms clean and tidy during their stay.

Bathroom and Toilet Facilities

The bathroom and toilet facilities at Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram are Thai-style and are located in a separate building from the living quarters. The facilities are clean and well-maintained, and visitors are expected to keep them clean and tidy after use.

Overall, visitors to Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram can expect a simple, mindful, and peaceful daily routine. The temple provides an opportunity to disconnect from the outside world and focus on mindfulness and meditation.

Courses and Instruction

Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram offers a range of courses and instruction in Vipassana (Insight) Meditation. These courses are designed to help both beginners and experienced meditators deepen their practice and understanding of meditation.

26-Day Basic Course

The 26-day basic course in Vipassana Meditation is the foundation of the meditation practice at Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram. This course is suitable for both beginners and experienced meditators. The course is taught by a teacher and includes individual interviews, group meditation sessions, and dharma talks.

The course is designed to provide a thorough introduction to the practice of Vipassana Meditation. Participants will learn the four foundations of mindfulness, which include mindfulness of the body, feelings, mind, and mental objects. The course also includes instruction on walking meditation and loving-kindness meditation.

Individual Interviews

Individual interviews are an important part of the meditation practice at Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram. During these interviews, participants have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a teacher to discuss their practice and receive guidance and support.

These interviews are an opportunity for meditators to ask questions, clarify their understanding of the practice, and receive feedback on their progress. The teacher may offer suggestions for ways to deepen their practice or overcome any challenges they may be facing.

Foreigners and visitors are welcome to participate in the courses and instruction at Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram. The courses are conducted in English, and the teachers are experienced in working with people from different cultures and backgrounds.

Overall, the courses and instruction at Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram provide a unique opportunity to deepen one’s meditation practice and understanding of oneself. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced meditator, the courses offer a supportive and encouraging environment to develop your practice.

Getting There and Around

When visiting Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram, there are several options for getting there and around. Here are some of the most popular ways:


Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram is located in the Suthep district of Chiang Mai, Thailand. If you are coming from the city center, head west on Huay Kaew Road until you reach the Chiang Mai University intersection. Turn right onto Suthep Road and continue for about 2 kilometers until you see a sign for Wat Ram Poeng on your right-hand side.



Tuk-tuks are a popular mode of transportation in Chiang Mai and can be found all over the city. They are ideal for short distances and can be a fun way to see the city. However, they can be more expensive than other forms of transportation.


Bicycles are a great way to explore Chiang Mai and are especially useful if you plan on visiting several temples in one day. There are several places in the city where you can rent bicycles, and prices are usually quite reasonable.

City Bus #1

City Bus #1 is a convenient and affordable way to get to Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram. The bus runs from the city center to the university and stops right in front of the temple. The fare is only a few baht, making it an excellent option for budget travelers.


Songtaews are a popular form of transportation in Chiang Mai and are similar to a shared taxi. They are usually red pickup trucks with two rows of seats in the back. You can flag down a songtaew on the street and negotiate a price with the driver.

Mobile Application

There are several mobile applications available in Thailand that can help you get around Chiang Mai. Grab and Uber are both popular options, and fares are usually quite reasonable. However, keep in mind that traffic in Chiang Mai can be quite heavy, especially during rush hour.

Overall, there are several options for getting to and around Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram. Whether you choose to take a tuk-tuk, rent a bicycle, or use public transportation, you are sure to have an enjoyable and memorable visit to this beautiful temple.

Facilities and Buildings

Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram boasts several buildings and facilities that are worth visiting. Here are some of the most notable ones:


The Viharn is the main hall of the temple and is used for various ceremonies and events. The hall is beautifully decorated with intricate carvings and murals depicting the life of Buddha. Visitors are welcome to enter and pay their respects to the Buddha image enshrined inside.

Central Stupa

The Central Stupa is the oldest and most significant structure in Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram. It dates back to the founding of the temple in 1492 and houses relics of the Buddha. The stupa is surrounded by four smaller chedis, each containing the ashes of a monk who contributed to the construction of the temple.

Tripitika Library

The Tripitika Library is a modern building that serves as a repository for the Theravadan scriptures. The library contains several editions of the Tripitaka, the Pali Canon, and other important Buddhist texts. Visitors are welcome to browse the collection and learn more about Buddhism.

Foreign Library

The Foreign Library is a small building that houses books and materials on Buddhism in various languages. The library is open to visitors who want to learn more about Buddhism and meditation. The collection includes books on mindfulness, Vipassana meditation, and other related topics.

Other notable buildings in Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram include the meditation halls, the monk’s quarters, and the dining hall. The temple also offers meditation retreats for those who want to deepen their practice. Overall, the temple is a peaceful and serene place that is worth visiting for anyone interested in Buddhism and meditation.

Community and Socializing

Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram is not just a meditation retreat, but a thriving community of monks, nuns, novices, and laypeople. Socializing and connecting with others is an important part of the experience, and visitors are encouraged to participate in community activities.


Socializing with other meditators can be a great way to deepen your practice and connect with like-minded individuals. The community at Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram is friendly and welcoming, and there are many opportunities to socialize with others.

One of the best ways to meet other meditators is by participating in the daily group meditation sessions. These sessions are held in the morning and evening, and are a great way to connect with others who are also on the path of meditation.

In addition to group meditation, there are also regular community events and activities, such as dharma talks, chanting sessions, and volunteer work. These events provide an opportunity to connect with others and deepen your understanding of the Buddhist teachings.


Bowing is an important part of the Buddhist tradition, and is practiced by both monastics and laypeople at Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram. Bowing is a way of showing respect and gratitude, and is often done before and after meditation sessions, as well as before and after meals.

When bowing, it is important to keep your hands together in front of your chest, with your fingers pointing upwards. You should bow with your head and upper body, but not with your knees. Bowing is a simple but powerful way to connect with the community and show respect for the teachings.

Novices, Nuns, and Laypeople

Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram is home to a diverse community of monastics and laypeople. Novices and nuns are ordained members of the monastic community, and follow a strict code of conduct and practice. Laypeople, on the other hand, are not ordained, but are still an important part of the community.

Visitors to Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram are encouraged to respect the customs and traditions of the community, and to be mindful of their behavior and dress. When visiting the temple, it is important to dress modestly and avoid revealing clothing.

Overall, the community at Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram is welcoming and inclusive, and visitors are encouraged to participate in community activities and connect with others on the path of meditation.

Tips and Advice

If you’re planning to visit Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram, here are some tips and advice to help you make the most of your experience.

What to Wear

As with any temple in Thailand, it’s important to dress appropriately. Wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, comfortable clothing made from breathable fabrics is best, as it can get quite hot and humid in Chiang Mai. Avoid wearing tight or revealing clothing, as this can be considered disrespectful.

What to Bring

When visiting Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram, it’s a good idea to bring a few essentials with you. Here are some things to consider:

  • Sunscreen: The sun can be intense in Thailand, so make sure to protect your skin with sunscreen.
  • Insect repellent: Mosquitoes can be a problem, especially during the rainy season.
  • Water bottle: It’s important to stay hydrated, especially if you’re meditating for long periods of time.
  • Comfortable shoes: You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so make sure to wear shoes that are comfortable and supportive.

Waiting List

If you’re interested in attending a Vipassana meditation course at Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram, be aware that there is often a waiting list. It’s a good idea to book well in advance to avoid disappointment. You can contact the center directly to inquire about availability.

Tourist Season

Chiang Mai can get very busy during peak tourist season, which is generally from November to February. If you’re planning to visit during this time, be prepared for crowds and higher prices. It’s a good idea to book accommodation and transportation in advance to avoid any issues.

Rains Retreat

The Rains Retreat, also known as Khao Phansa, is a three-month period of intensive meditation practice that takes place during the rainy season. During this time, the monks and nuns at Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram may be less available to visitors. If you’re planning to visit during this time, be aware that there may be some restrictions on your access to the temple and its facilities.

Overall, visiting Wat Ram Poeng Tapotaram can be a transformative experience for those interested in meditation and mindfulness. By following these tips and advice, you can ensure that your visit is enjoyable, respectful, and meaningful.