Monk’s Trail – Hike to Wat Pha Lat Jungle Temple
Thailand is a country where you can easily get “templed out” but how about hiking through jungles of Chiang Mai, following orange robe pieces tied to trees, on Monk’s Trail to surrender to tranquil of Wat Pha Lat? A hidden temple in the exotic jungle surrounded by panoramic views and pristine waterfalls. The temple is away from the chaos primarily used by monks to meditate.
PIN THE POST TO READ LATER
Wat Pha Lat – A Temple Tucked in Jungles of Chiang Mai
Popularly known as “Monk’s Trail”, the temple silently sits atop a rock with stunning views of Chiang Mai. The temple translates to “Monastery at the Sloping Rock” in English, was constructed in the year 1355 by King Kuena.
Before the 13th century, monks visited Doi Suthep temple walking through the trail, ascending and descending the mountains. The temple was built as a rest point for pilgrimage and monks en route Doi Suthep Temple perched atop the hill.
The roads were built mid of 19th century that connected Doi Suthep temple conveniently with vehicles, changing the significant role played by Wat Pha Lat. Ever since, the temple is used as a meditation centre for monks. The trail, the landscape and the peaceful temple, everything looks well orchestrated, bestowed by the abundance of nature.
The stairs at the entrance of the temple are consciously embraced by nature, the walls dressed in stems and roots and traditional statues on either side ascending up the stairs. True to all my senses, nature has enveloped the temples and blossomed through every creek, corner and ruins.
As you walk up the stairs, towards the right, is the temple complex. The pagodas and cluster of mini temples, walls carved with elephant heads, figurines influenced by Thai mythology, creepers taking over walls, wooden bridges over shallow flowing water and stream of slippery waterfall on the rock – all of these makes the place an abstract introspection, of how all of this was architected so perfectly and glorified further with sorcery cast by nature.
On entering the temple, the dragon adorned stairs leading to the slippery waterfall on the rocks is phenomenal. Such intricate architectures dating back to bygone centuries, it is hard to even slide through the perspective in place.
Some Glimpses of the Wat Pha Lat
How to Reach Monk’s Trail?
The temple can be visited well within budget either using Grab Taxi or a songthaew (Red Taxi).
- Hail a songthaew and ask them to drive you to the end of the Suthep Road. The end of the Suthep Road is close to the main gate of Chiang Mai University. Most of the Songthaew drivers confuse and drive you to the main entrance of Doi Suthep Temple make sure to give them the directions appropriately.
- The second way to reach there is by calling a “Grab Taxi” and you can use the destination as “DCondo Campus Resort” or “Wat Pha Lat Hike”.
Once you have reached the end of Suthep Road, you will notice a couple of signboards pointing towards “Chiang Mai Zoo” or “Nature Trail Phalad“. Keep walking towards that direction until you reach an intersection. Keep towards the left and keep walking on the inclined path till you see the entry for the trail, marked by two green hut shaped boards.
After walking through past the boards, the trail is pretty much marked with orange monk robe pieces tied to the trees. The trail is straight and well marked. Keep following the trail until you reach the temple, there is no intersection.
Things to Know about the Place
- As you hike through the Monk’s Trail, you pass through 5 translational zones differing in their pattern of forest formation. The hike starts with Dipterocarp forest which translates into the evergreen forest surrounding the temple as you ascend the hill. The Dipterocarp plants shed their leaves during the dry season but trees of evergreen forest always stay green, never shedding their leaves.
- The arched bridges are the oldest bridges laid on the route dating back to around 100 years and made of stones. They were used by the pilgrims to cross creeks and walk towards Doi Suthep.
- It is an easy hike but come as early as possible to avoid the heat. Although the forest canopy creates a shade but can still get hot during the day.
- Wear sturdy and strong shoes to hike the place, carry a bottle of water and make sure you have had your breakfast before starting the climb. There are no shops on the route.
- Make sure you apply mosquito repellent while hiking through the forest.
- You can visit Doi Suthep Temple without having to descend down. Follow the route behind the temple (it is well marked) and hike all the way up to the main road. Do not cross the road and hail any songthaew coming your way to drop you to Doi Suthep for 100 Baht.
Loved the post – Pin the post and plan your trip
The gorgeous view of the 700 years of the old city of Chiang Mai from the temple is by all means rewarding. The marvels of intricate architecture on the walls, excellence of craftsmanship in designing the figurines and dragon statues will leave you in awe. Do not be in rush, meditate and spend some time connecting to the unadulterated nature enveloping the area.