Wat Pha Lat – the Charm of Lanna for Over 500 Years

Wat Pha Lat (Thai: วัดผาลาด, wát păa lâat), or Wat Sakitakami (Thai: สกิทาคามี, sà-gì taa kaa mee), is a hidden temple that has existed on Lanna soil for a long time. During the era of the Mangrai dynasty under the reign of King Kue Na (6th ruler of the Mangrai dynasty, 1355–1385), a Buddha relic was brought from Sukhothai on an elephant’s back to find a place to construct Phra That Doi Suthep.

Wat Pha Lat

The white elephant with the relic walked toward Doi Aoy Chang – west of the city of Chiang Mai. King Kue Na and King Li Thai of the Sukhothai Kingdom, along with their ministers, followed the elephant with a cortege. Wat Pha Lat was the second stop of the elephant, so a memorial was constructed at this jungle temple.

It has been 645 years since the reign of King Kue Na to the present day. The role of this temple from then until this day is to be a place that offers dharma knowledge and practices for those who seek them, as well as a stop for those who are going up to pay their respects to Phra That Doi Suthep. It is also a place to study and practice dharma for Buddhist monks and locals who wish to do so.

Wat Pha Lat History

The development of Wat Pha Lat can be organized into 3 eras

1st Era

The first era, the era of tales and legends. Legend has it that Wat Pha Lat has existed for a long time. 5 hermit sages used to live in this temple. One of the sages is Sudeva Rishi, who practiced dharma in this temple. Originally a temple monk, there was a time when Indra (Hindu king of the heavens) invited Gautama Buddha to spread his dharma knowledge to the Lanna people. The Buddha visited the 5 sages – who were monks at this time – and gave a sermon at Wat Pha Lat.

Chedi Wat Pha Lat

After the sermon, the 5 monks came to the Buddha and requested his permission to leave the monkhood. When the Buddha asked for a reason, the 5 monks explained that during their stay with the local tribes, they noted that the locals still worship traditional customs and beliefs with various religious activities that require the need of priests and spiritual leaders, which would be difficult to achieve if the 5 monks still keep their Buddhist monkhood, and the Buddha permitted.

After that, Sudeva Rishi listened to the Buddha’s sermon and requested him to give a sermon to Sudeva Rishi’s parents as well, who were Pu Sae and Ya Sae – the two yakshas (giant) guardians of the city of Chiang Mai. So the Buddha gave a sermon to Pu Sae at the base of Phra That Doi Suthep in the Galae area, and he gave a sermon to Ya Sae at the base of Phra That Doi Kham, both of which became legends of Chiang Mai until the present days.

2d Era

The second era, the era of the Mangrai dynasty. The dynasty was responsible for building several Phra Thats (places for keeping holy relics) and towns. It was during this era that a Buddha relic was brought from Sukhothai to Chiang Mai, as mentioned above.

3d Era

During this era, Wat Pha Lat was restored not as a temple but as a place of spiritual healing for the people, with the goal of this restoration to protect the natural environment and surroundings as much as possible and to become a spiritual center for the study of the Buddha’s Dharma.

Wat Pha Lat Building

This is reflected in the modern era, as Wat Pha Lat has a relaxed atmosphere, many fruit-bearing trees, and a peaceful environment conducive to meditation and self-knowledge.

Ancient times

In ancient times, the elephant carrying the Buddha relic walked along a route up to Doi Suthep and made a stop at 4 locations, which are:

1. Sam Yob area (Wat Soda Ban or Wat Sri Soda)
2. Pha Lat (Wat Pha Lat or Wat Sakitakami)
3. Mon Phaya Hong (Wat Mon Phaya Hong or Wat Anagami)
4. Doi Suthep (Wat Phra That Doi Suthep or Wat Arahant)

At these four locations, King Li Thai – a friend of King Kue Na – suggested to him that on their journey up the mountain, even the elephant had to take some breaks along the way. Surely ordinary humans would tire themselves out during the climb as well, so there should be resting areas along the route.

He did not use the word “resting area” directly, though, and instead said to King Li Thai that travelers who went up the mountain to the Phra That are akin to pilgrims going on a spiritual journey so far away from home. As they reach Wat Sam Yob (the first stop), they also reach the first stage of enlightenment, Sotapanna. When they reach the second stop, Wat Pha Lat, they reach the second stage of enlightenment (Sakitakami). When they reach Wat Mon Phaya Hong, they reach the third stage of enlightenment (Anagami).

Finally, those who are determined enough to reach Wat Phra That Doi Suthep at the top of the mountain are akin to those who achieved the fourth stage of enlightenment, Arahant.

Accordingly, the journey up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is not simply a journey to pay respects to Phra That, but a spiritual trail that enables travelers to study and practice their dharma per the teachings of Buddha, which is very significant.

Later, Kruba Sri Wichai, a Buddhist monk, took this ancient philosophy into account when he created a new route up to Doi Suthep. Kruba Sri Wichai incorporated this philosophy and arranged for travelers to make their first stop at Wat Sam Yob, or Wat Soda Ban (known as Wat Sri Soda at present). About 5 kilometers after that is Wat Pha Lat (Wat Sakitakami). About 4 kilometers after that is Wat Anagami. Lastly, after 3 more kilometers to the top of the mountain, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is known as Wat Arahant per the old Buddhism teachings in the days of old.

Wat Pha Lat Entrance Fee

Entrance fee to the Wat Pha Lat temple is free. However, you can make a small donation to support this beautiful old Buddhist temple.

Wat Pha Lat Dress Code

As in any other Buddhist temple, visitors are required to dress modestly. Your clothing should be clean and neat and not torn. Men should have pants below the knee and long-sleeved shirts. Women may have long pants or a skirt, and should have their shoulders, abdomen, and neckline covered.

Wat Pha Lat Map & Direction

YT Video Review

Hidden in the mountains

Hike to Wat Pha Lat via the monk's trail

FAQ

It usually translates as monastery at the sloping rock, literally describing the temple and its features, as do many other places in Thailand.

Wat Pha Lat is located at 101 Sriwichai Alley, Baan Huay Pha Lat, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai, 50200

Google direction is here

This temple is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., every day.

Entrance to the temple grounds is free

See the Wat Pha Lat monk’s Trail on Alltrails. You can also take this trail to the top of the mountain to Doi Suthep Temple. Start is here.

 

To get to Wat Pha Lat, you can take a taxi or tuk-tuk from Chiang Mai city center. Alternatively, you can rent a motorbike and drive there yourself. The temple is located about 8 kilometers north of the city center.

Sure, you can drive to Wat Pha Lat. The road is in good condition and the journey should take around 20 minutes from Chiang Mai city center.

Wat Pha Lat is believed to have been built in the late 14th century.

Wat Pha Lat is believed to be around 700 years old.

Before visit Wat Phra Kaew, be sure to check our rental rates and read our bike travel tips. You can contact us to book a motorbike on this page. Don’t forget that this is a route with very steep slopes. Therefore, we strongly recommend reading the article on why even experienced riders can have brake failure. See you!

Cat Motors Team

Was this post useful for you?

You can rate it by clicking on a star

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *