Wat Tham Pha Chom

Wat Tham Pha Chom

Great views

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This isn’t the most exciting hilltop temple in northern Thailand but it is interesting enough, and the views are a great plus.
Travelfish says:

You can walk up here – it ascends in stages and the hill isn’t too high -- or wind your way up by motorbike. The road and stairs lie behind Doi Wao Market and you can reach them via either the market or a turn off on Sailomjoy Road. We’re sure this strategically placed hill has had religious buildings on its summit for a long time, though what you see today is of recent construction and indeed was still ongoing when we visited in 2015.

The large Wat Tham Pha Chom complex has been built around some caves -- popular former meditation spot for monks -- one of which is rumoured to actually pass under the Sai River, though it’s presumably flooded and the gate is kept locked. Another cave which you can visit is lit and houses a couple of prestigious Buddha images and an underground chedi. There are various images and statues set in niches along the adjacent cliff and it’s an interesting spot to wander. Wat Tham Pha Chom also houses a large meditation and Dharma teaching school run by the Ministry of Education and has a small museum featuring locally found artefacts plus Buddhist relics. The latter belonged to prominent monks and also apparently to Buddha himself. There is some English information.

From here you can continue up to the large seated Buddha image on the top of the hill either by road or on foot, but since the former is very steep and very slippery it may be worth walking up this last stretch even if you do have a bike. At the summit you’ll have views over Burma and Tachileik plus of course Mae Sai and its surrounds too. On a lower hill opposite is another temple, Wat Prathat Doi Wao, displaying a mixture of Chinese and Thai religious styles. Entrance is also at the rear of Doi Wa market and the hill is neither as high, nor the view as spectacular as Tham Pha Chom Temple.

Reviewed by

Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.

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Mae Sai's biggest attraction