Wat Tham Pla

Nestled in the forested hills of the Chiang Rai province in Northern Thailand lies Wat Tham Pla, a temple complex that is home to stunning natural beauty, unique cultural significance, and friendly wildlife.

The temple is located in the Mae Sai district, quite close to the border of Thailand and Myanmar. Wat Tham Pla can be a great choice for tourists coming to Chiang Rai.


  • The temple rooms in a cave in the mountain offer stunning views and a peaceful atmosphere.
  • The climb to the top of the 500 stairs is worth it, with inspiring Buddhist messages and beautiful jungle views along the way.
  • The temple and its surroundings at sunrise are incredibly peaceful and tranquil, with monks preparing for alms and meaningful Buddhist signs to read.
  • The peaceful and serene setting at the top of the temple is captivating, with no charges or lots of shops/stalls at the entrance.

Discovering the Beauty of Wat Tham Pla



Wat Tham Plat and Its History

Wat Tham Pla is a Buddhist temple built into a cave surrounded by lush forests. The temple is home to a large reclining Buddha statue, a popular attraction for visitors. There are several smaller temples, shrines, and a monastery for monks within the temple complex.


The history of Wat Tham Plat dated back to the 15th century when it was founded. Over the centuries, the temple has experienced multiple changes and renovations. Nowadays, it has become an important cultural and religious site for the local community, as well as the Thailand people.

The Wildlife

One of the most unique features of Wat Tham Pla is the friendly wildlife that lives in and around the temple complex. A large troop of macaque monkeys lives in the temple. They are not afraid of humans, always curious, and want to play with you. Don’t be too surprised if you see one climb to your shoulder or your head to get a better look at you. Visitors can come and offer them food, and they will gladly accept it.


The temple is also home to a diversity of bird species, including kingfishers, hornbills, and sunbirds, as well as butterflies and other insects. Visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of the forest and its citizens by taking a nice stroll around the temple complex.

Local Cuisine

No visit to Wat Tham Pla would be complete without trying some of the delicious local cuisines. The surrounding is well-known for its fresh produce and authentic Northern Thai dishes.


The most famous dish in the region that we have to mention is khao soi. It’s a delicious curry and egg noodle dish with a variety of toppings like chicken, pork, or beef, as you may know. Another must-try dish is sai oua, a flavorful sausage made with pork and spices. There are also fresh fruits and vegetables to offer to visitors, such as lychees, longans, and strawberries.

Near the temple, there are several modest food stalls and restaurants that serve these delectable local dishes. Visitors can take a break from exploring and enjoy a delicious meal while admiring the scenery.


Opening Hours and How to get there

Opening hours: From 8 am to 5 pm.

No admission fee is required. But visitors are encouraged to make a small donation to help support the temple’s maintenance.

To get to Wat Tham Pla, visitors can hire a taxi or a tuk-tuk from Chiang Rai city. The journey takes around an hour and a half, and the road winds through scenic countryside and mountainous terrain.


Tips for Visiting

If you’re planning to visit Wat Tham Pla, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothing because you’ll be walking and hiking a lot.
  • Bring a hat, sunscreen, and insect spray to protect yourself.
  • Take a camera to capture the breathtaking scenery and wildlife.
  • When visiting the temple complex, be respectful of its traditions and adhere to the dress code by avoiding shorts or sleeveless tops.
  • While the monkeys are friendly, be cautious when feeding them and avoid getting too close or trying to touch them.
  • Take your time to slowly appreciate the natural beauty and tranquillity of the temple and its environment.


Reviews from TripAdvisor:

A worthwhile climb to the top
Nov 2021
Although the temple itself is rather standard in many ways, its location distinguishes it. The 500-step climb to the top adds to the uniqueness of the experience (make sure to help the monks by carrying a pack of water bottles up to the top).
Temple rooms in a mountain cave are always something special, and the view is breathtaking.
Definitely worth the effort.


Worth a visit
Feb 2022 • Friends
A tranquil little temple at the top of 510 steps, with Buddhist proverbs, served along the way as an excuse to stop and read while pretending you didn’t need a break.

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