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An 800 meter climb up steep iron steps will lead you to one of the most impressive places you’ll ever see. Atop the Wat Chalermprakiat, you’ll be above the clouds and can enjoy a 360-degree view of the mountains and Lampang’s green landscape. This piece of Thailand should not be left unseen – the winds that cause the dozens of small bells to jingle, Thai praying near the golden Buddhas and the top of the temple taking you closer to heaven!

Will we ever get there?

We’ve been riding around aimlessly along deserted and small dirt roads in the middle of the jungle for more than an hour already. Even our trusted friend Google Maps seems to have abandoned us; there’s no GPS signal.

We drive through small, secluded little villages in which people look at us questioningly. Is it our bright orange helmets? Perhaps. But it’s almost as if they’ve never seen westerners before. We continue our ride, somewhat uneasily, until the road ceases to exist. This can’t be good.

We decided to put our phones away and head back to the spot where there were still road signs.

Eventually, we arrive in the small town of Chae Hom, where we encounter a friendly Thai man, kind enough to show us the way with hand gestures. He points to the mountain overlooking the village.

Finally! After more than three hours of riding around, we were heading in the right direction!

The jungle road to Wat Chalermprakiat in LampangThat's the mountain, Pu Yak Mountain, we're heading for!

Wat Chalermprakiat from above

Photo credit: sites.google.com/site/wilasinee570410118

The road to the Wat Chalermprakiat

The mountain is getting closer, and the white pagodas at the top are coming into view. That’s the one!

After leaving our motorbikes in the parking area, we headed to the ticket stands. We buy a 100 baht ticket each and take place in the back of a jeep with six other Thai, which then takes off at full speed.

Completely unprepared we speed up the mountain, across a narrow and absurdly steep paved road. Everybody in the jeep tries to hold on the best they can. And we laugh; even the Thai people don’t seem to know what’s happening and start laughing out loud as well. After five interesting minutes, we arrive, safe and unharmed.

We get off feeling dizzy. Wow. This was intense.

Jeep that took us to the starting point - Wat Chalermprakiat in Lampang

Steep steps to the top

Still recovering from the ride, we have a cup of coffee in a wooden cabin, after which we start our climb. Along the way, we come across some Thai men who point us in the direction of the starting point.

With hand gestures they make clear how amazing the view at the top of the mountain is. “Suay mak-mak”, they keep saying, which means “very beautiful” in Thai.

We leisurely start our climb; if they can do it, then surely we could too!

And we weren’t wrong; the climb was very manageable. We were preparing for the worst – but got lucky. It was dry, not too warm and within twenty minutes we found ourselves near the top.

On our way, we were enthusiastically cheered on by the Thai – which was a lot of fun.

Welcoming locals at Wat Chalermprakiat in LampangWarning sign at Wat Chalermprakiat in LampangClimbing to Wat Chalermprakiat in LampangInteresting steps to Wat Chalermprakiat in Lampang

The view

We hadn’t quite made it to the top. We made our way up through narrow stairs, looking for the golden pagoda.

The ringing bells led the way. Only a few more steps and we’ll be at the top.

We made it. We look around, take a deep breath and are left utterly speechless by what we’re seeing. With big smiles on our faces, we enjoy the impressive view.

Wow, this is amazing…

Mariska at Wat Chalermprakiat in LampangBells at Wat Chalermprakiat in LampangMariska at Wat Chalermprakiat in LampangBells at Wat Chalermprakiat in Lampang

Explore the area

We spend about half an hour there, looking around, enjoying the view, talking to the Thai people who had done the climb as well.

Besides the golden pagoda, you can also visit the small temple with the Buddha statues. From there you have a better view of the pagodas that are constructed on the rocks.

In 2004 monks started the construction of the Wat Chalermprakiat, on the birthday of King Bhumibol, who has since passed away. By building the temples, the monks wanted to show their unconditional love and loyalty to the Thai people. The construction took more than 11 years.

And it shows! The pagodas were constructed on some of the most inhospitable places. Everything had to be carried up the mountain, even when there weren’t any steps yet.

It’s an unbelievably beautiful homage to the now deceased king of Thailand. A temple that, as the Thai people like to say, “brings you closer to heaven”.

A floating house at Wat Chalermprakiat in LampangPraying locals at Wat Chalermprakiat in LampangBeautiful mountain temples at Wat Chalermprakiat in Lampang

Unseen Thailand

The Wat Chalermprakiat and its surrounding area is a gorgeous piece of undiscovered Thailand.

The overwhelming majority of the visitors to the temple were Thai. We managed to spot a grand total of three western tourists there, which made it extra special for us. We like to explore things that aren’t as well known yet, together with Thai tourist.

The small town of Lampang, which is where we stayed, is very authentic and a great place to stop at before heading to the metropolis of Chiang Mai, only an hour and a half’s drive away.

There is something pure and innocent about this town. Should you visit Lampang, we recommend having dinner at the Aroy One Baht on the top floor, among the Thai people. Then you’ll immediately understand what we mean.

Restaurant Aroy One Baht in Lampang

Photo credit: Joe Koerner

How to get there

The Wat Chalermprakiat lies about 40 miles north of Lampang and can be found on Google Maps under its Thai name: วัดพระบาทพุทธาวาส วัดพระบาทหลวงปู่แดง. Which, unfortunately, we only found out about now.

You can reach it by motorbike, rental car or taxi. All of which can be arranged at your guesthouse. If you manage to go in the right direction, it should take about one or two hours to reach from Lampang. For overnight stays in Lampang, we recommend Kanecha’s Home as well as the Karpenter Guesthouse.

Lampang is an hour and a half’s drive south-east of Chiang Mai. You can reach Lampang reasonably easily from Bangkok as well. Just take the (night)train or a domestic flight.

  • Train tickets from Bangkok to Lampang are available from 800 baht. Trains leave in the morning and evening. More information →
  • Plane tickets from Bangkok to Lampang are available from 1,200 baht, and planes leave multiple times a day.

No matter how you visit this temple; it’s more than worth it!

Mariska and Sander on the top of Wat Chalermprakiat in Lampang"No Shoes" - Wat Chalermprakiat in LampangThe descent at Wat Chalermprakiat in Lampang

Best Hotels Lampang

Kanecha's Home, Lampang

Kanecha's Home - $$

Stay in a traditional Thai house on the river of Lampang with all kinds of authentic restaurants within walking distance. The Thai family is super friendly and can arrange everything for you. We have slept wonderfully here!

Karpenter Guesthouse, Lampang

Karpenter Lampang - $$

Located in a suburb of Lampang, you will find the modern Karpenter Guesthouse. It recently opened at the beginning of 2017, with just five rooms. The staff is really friendly and like to help with anything you want to do in and around Lampang.

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Author Sander

Former elementary school teacher, storyteller, sports enthusiast, and adventurer. Love to do the "impossible", which is usually the exact opposite of what’s expected.

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