Wat Pha Lat

Top choice in Chiang Mai

A hidden jungle temple tucked into the mountain along the way to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Old stone structures, intricate carvings, naga-flanked stairways and Buddhist statues dot the serene grounds, and a walkway over a sheetrock waterfall affords postcard-pretty views of Chiang Mai. The temple was seldom visited before 2018, but word of its beauty spread among travellers and expats, and the Monk's Trail (a jungle path from the city to the temple) is now an open secret.

As the story of the temple goes, in 1355 a white elephant belonging to King Kuena took a break to rest on the future site of Wat Pha Lat before dying at the future site of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The king ordered temples constructed on both sites, and the hidden jungle temple became a rest stop for monks making the pilgrimage to the larger, more opulent temple. After the road was constructed in 1935, Wat Pha Lat became a monks' residence and meditation site.

Note that there are no food stalls or shops here, which for many visitors is preferable.

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