Wat Phra That Doi Phra Chan is perhaps one of the most beautiful and least known Buddhist temples in Lampang Province, Thailand. Not even on the official tourist map for Lampang, this temple is seldom visited by Thais from the provincial capital and even less frequently seen by foreigners. Although quite easy to get to from Lampang’s capital, visiting this temple will give even the most intrepid travel a truly off the beaten path Thailand experience.
How to get there
The best way to reach Wat Phra That Doi Phra Chan is by motorbike or car from Lampang’s provincial capital heading south along Highway 1 until turning off for the temple. The signage to reach this temple is not that good so the best way to find it would be to use Google Maps. The location can be found here.
There are two main temples here worth visiting. The first is near the parking area at the base of the mountain while the second can only be accessed by the free songthaew service bringing passengers from the parking area to the temple atop the mountain.
Wat Phra That Doi Phra Chan is absolutely beautiful. Rather than the ancient temples throughout Thailand, this temple has only been completed in recent years blending the old with the new architecture. Aside from the architecture and striking Buddha images, the view on top is quite incredible. The image of a valley filled with rice fields against a backdrop of hazy mountains is the quintessential Northern Thai picture. I could spend all day just taking in this amazing view.
Even though I visited during the hot month of May, this temple is also quite popular for locals during the winter when the valley fills with fog creating a spectacular scene.
While I was there many curious Thai visitors tried to strike up conversations with me on all the usual topics – do you have a girlfriend, how old are you, what is your job, where are you from etc. While I initially engaged in conversation with just a few folks, before long I was entertaining a whole extended family. One of the mothers was even trying to set me up with her daughter. Only in Thailand.
I spent over a year living in Lampang’s capital, and I had never even heard of this temple until recently. I actually discovered it through asking local Thais about hidden places in Lampang last time I was there. Ironically the people I asked hadn’t even been themselves. I was back in Lampang on a short motorcycle journey through the north, and this temple made for an excellent side trip. Northern Thailand has so many hidden gems like Wat Phra That Doi Phra Chan. I hope one day I can come back to discover them all.