Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat is one of Lampang Provinces’s best kept secret. Many Thais in Lampang’s provincial capital have not even heard of this beautiful temple complex hidden away in the mountains. In fact, it is not even written on the official tourist maps making this temple a truly off the beaten path destination for adventurous travelers.
How to Get There
There is no public transportation so the best way would be to rent a motorcycle or car. Coming from Lampang’s provincial capital, it is quite straightforward. Head up Highway 1035 until it there is a turnoff for the temple in a small village. The best way to find the turnoff is to use Google Maps. Here is the location.
From Chiang Mai, there are many ways. My personal recommendation is to travel east from the city crossing over the mountains to reach Lampang province. The drive is more rugged and challenging especially on a motorcycle, but it is completely worth it. It should take about two to three hours to get to the temple. The route will stop through Ban Mae Kampong – a beautiful Thai mountain village with plenty of coffee shops, restaurants, and homestay options. Click here to read more about my trip to Ban Mae Kampong.
A third option would be to travel from Chiang Mai down through Lampang along Highway 11 and then up towards the temple. This is probably a little longer than the first route, but it sticks to more highways and main roads. The trip here can also be combined into a larger motorcycle loop I personally dubbed the Ban Mae Kampong Loop.
Getting to the Top
At the base of the mountain, there is a car park area with several restaurants and coffee shops. Even though, there is a road mostly up to the top, you must park your car or motorcycle here. To get to the top, you will need to purchase a return ticket for a songtaew ride up which includes admission to the temple. The price is 100 bhat, and it is the same for Thais and foreigners (probably because foreigners never go). The songtaew ride is about 10 minutes, and believe me, you will be glad you rode it up. The road is incredibly steep winding back and forth until reaching another parking lot and drop off point.
From the drop off point, it is another grueling 800 meter walk mostly by stairs to the top. The views are completely worth it though. At the summit are two main viewpoints each accessible by stairs. There is some free drinking water and a first aid kit up top. There are also several bells around that Thais are supposed to ring to tell the spirits in the area that they have done good deeds by coming to the temple and praying. Even if you’re not Buddhist, go ahead and ring them! Just obviously don’t go hitting them crazy hard.
After taking in the views, the walk back down is much easier. There is a good coffee shop at the base also selling water and snacks. I stopped for a quick iced latte before getting my songtaew ride back down to the bottom.
If you have extra time in the area, visiting this temple can easily be combined with a trip to Chae Son National Park – one of my favorites in Thailand. Click here to read about my visit to Chae Son.