May 03 2011
Temple of the Four Buddha Footprints, or Wat Pra Prabat Si Roy in Thai, is a remote and spectacular forest temple located in Mae Rim’s Salouang district and the subject for today’s see and do post for Chiang Mai.
Though it’s a highly prestigious and popular temple among Thais, very few foreigners make it out here. This is a shame since it’s a picturesque spot, with a lovely drive to get there, making it an interesting day or half-day out from Chiang Mai. Sure, it’s remoteness and the difficulty of access certainly accounts for the lack of tourists — we’ve never found any organised tours here and it’s impossible to reach by public transport — but if you’ve rented a motorbike or are prepared to hire a songthaew for the day, then it’s worth the effort. The temple is very well signposted. All signs are written in Thai but they have a picture of the Buddha footprint on them, so just follow the pictures.
Drive through Mae Rim on the main highway north, and some 5 km or so after the town look out for a sign and a turning to the left. The sealed road then winds its way through villages and up wooded hills for 25 km until you reach the temple. Every junction is signposted, and side tracks to several waterfalls are even indicated in English. The pretty drive or ride — see view below — is around 45 km in total from central Chiang Mai
The temple itself is a fairly recent construction — and indeed the famous Buddha footprints seem to our cynical, sacrilegious minds recently carved — but it’s a photogenic collection of various temple buildings and hundreds of Buddha statues, set in a wooded valley surrounded by low hills. A basic cafe in the car park will keep you fed and watered, while various vendors sell herbal medicines too.
As we said, part of the attraction is simply in getting to the Temple of the Four Buddha Footprints. Note that it’s easily combined with a trip to the Mae Sa Valley or perhaps Mae Taeng; Salouang village has some eateries and even a camp site half-way between the village and temple if you want to stay the night in the middle of nowhere.
Travelfish.org always pays its way. No exceptions.