Escape to Chiang Mai

It is the last few days of our trip in Thailand. We will be sad to leave but are looking forward to the next part of our adventure, walking in India.

With that in mind we have always wanted to do the ‘monks walk’ along a rocky path through the forest to the Wat at 1060m near the top of Doi Suthep, one of the highest points in CM. This was the way the monks used to reach the temple at the top and still do, thousands on some occasions. It also passes our favourite temple Wat Pha Lat the ‘monastery at the sloping rock’ in the forest half way up.

This smaller temple is a real hidden gem; no crowds, food sellers and not many tourists. It’s not as bling and opulent as it’s big brother up the hill but is peaceful and serene with a waterfall in a very natural surrounding and a great view of the city below. It’s also a resting point half way up!!

The trail starts and after a few minutes uphill walking you are asked to enter your name at a little office, in case you get lost. The route is marked by strips of orange cloth attached to trees. You often see monks going up or coming down which is quite surreal and magical, wearing flip flops!

You need proper boots or trainers as the trail can be quite rocky and steep. You also need mosquito repellent as there are plenty of them about and at least a litre of water. We left early, 8 am, before the sun was too hot. The temperatures are now in the mid 30’s and rising with the humidity so early is best.

It took an hour to reach Wat Pha Lat clambering over roots and boulders along the way with some relatively steep bits. Passing small waterfalls and steep drops, stopping occasionally to look at lizards scuttling about and listening to birdsong (also to get our breath back).

We stopped at the small temple and used their facilities and had a quick sit down before tackling the more arduous second half up to the temple at the top. This part of the trail is more challenging and vertical in places and takes about an hour and a half. There are some tricky scrambles over rocks and big boulders and we took lots of breaks. At one point a guy in his 20’s just in a pair of shorts ran past us up the trail leaping over and around boulders. Gosh!! To add insult to injury he passed us on his way down and smiled as both times he found us sat on a rock catching our breath.

We eventually got to the top, 5.5 miles and 12,200 steps according to Chris and his Fitbit. We headed for a bite to eat and a sit down. We wished we had done the walk earlier on our trip. We climbed another 309 steps up to the entrance of the temple and had a look around . It was absolutely teeming with tourists unlike the wat below. It is Chinese New Year and very busy so we didn’t stay long and then jumped in a red bus and back to the city.

It’s the people of Thailand that make it such a magical place. They are friendly and inclusive with ready smiles, and a real sense of fun. The food and scenery is all fantastic but it’s the people that make us want to keep coming back again and again….

3 thoughts on “Escape to Chiang Mai

  1. What a fabulous experience seeing the photos brings back so many memories of places we’ve seen and would love to visit one day .we shall be picking your brains for sure when that day comes for sure xx

    Liked by 1 person

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