What an amazing and peaceful place is Wat Tham Pha Plong !! During our Thailand Trip, we happened to visit many temples but this certainly scores in the top one and in case, you are headed to Chiang Dao, we certainly recommend a visit to Wat Tham Pha Plong (วัดถ้ำผาปล่อง).
After our visit to magnificient Chiang Dao Caves (ถ้ำเชียงดาว), it took us some time to find the path to the temple but it was worth the efforts. After speaking to smiling Thai faces in signal language for some time (As very few people in this small village of Ban Tham were able to converse in English), we finally reached to the mountain foot hills at the fringe of green forest. There was no one around except few dogs (they too were quite and calm) and security guards.
501 Step stairway to Wat Tham Pha Plong
Just a few steps inside the entrance and we were in front of the stairs leading into the forest. Wat Tham Pha Plong is situated up on the mountain inside the green dense forest and can be reached by this 501 steep naga stairway.
Initial part of the climb is a steep ascend but it eases out after initial 200 steps and there onwards it is more of a walk through steps. You will not feel the strain of climb as path passes through lush green forest and you will be more enjoying your surroundings and the calm, peaceful and serene atmosphere around you.
There are shaded seating areas on the way where you can take rest and also catch your breath. On the way, you will also find beautiful sayings that will make you take a pause and reflect for a moment, making it a spiritual climb for you.
Half way to the temple, you will also get a glimpse of the temple up on the mountain. After this, it is more of a walk than a climb as you take steps meeting monks on the way and a handful of visitors.
Once you reach Wat Tham Pha Plong up on mountain
After you climb, once you reach the temple, you will be mesmerized by the beautiful views from the top and also the temple atmosphere. Please maintain silence as this temple is a monastery for monks.
On top, there are 2 temple – Main rock temple is dedicated to revered meditation master Luang Poo Sim who once practiced here and eventually in 1967 established a monastery on the site. Inside is also a small museum dedicated to the master. A few stairs up is the second temple dedicated to Buddha.
Here are the pictures from inside the temples and views from the top –
This was a perfect outing – A combination of a small hike (on stair-case), peaceful calm atmosphere, meeting monks on the way, with stunning green forest and mountain scenery. A good climb but worth efforts!!
History of Wat Tham Pha Plong
Highly revered monk and meditation master Luang Poo Sim lived here until his death in 1992 teaching the Dhamma (buddhas teachings). After becoming a monk, he adopted the practice of wandering in solitude through the jungle wilderness, staying in caves and practicing Dhamma. In 1960, while travelling to find a place for his solitary pray, he found Pah Plong Cave in Chiang Dao as a perfect place for meditation and in 1967, he established a monastery in these remote mountains that remained his residence untill the last day of his life.
Because of his devotion to Buddhism and his own virtue, His Majesty the King Bhumibol granted him the highest priest’s honour ‘Phra Nanasidhacan’ on August 12, 1992. He passed away on August 14th, 1992, at the age of 93 with 63 years in the monkshood. Both King and Queen had presided over his funeral.
How to reach Wat Tham Pha Plong
This proved to be slightly tricky as Google Maps could not identify the English name of the temple and we had to ask people around for directions. It became a bit difficult as noone around was conversant in English but finally with symbol languages and smiles, we reached out destinations. Here is the location marked on Google Maps
In case, you can not use Google Maps, simple direction is continue straight on the road leading to Chiang Dao Caves. After taking an Exit from the Caves parking area, do not come back towards Chiang Dao town but take left and continue straight. After driving for few kilometers, you will see a sign board with Temple Name and asking you to take left. Take left turn and soon you will be at temple entrance.
- Entry Fee: Free. There is no entry fee to enter the temple.
- Visiting Hours: Though there are no specified visiting hours but we will recommend to visit before sun-rise.
Hope this helps you plan your trip. Please do comment below in case you like our blog or need any additional details.