There’s a multitude of hill-top temples in this part of the world and while Wat Analayo is definitely one of the more interesting ones it would be best combined with a tour around Phayao Lake and/or a Champatong Waterfall trip rather than a 40 or so kilometre round trip just for the one site. The Wat lies on the first range of low hills, more or less opposite Phayao Town, on the far side of the lake, and is approximately 18 or 20 kilometres from town clockwise and anti-clockwise respectively.
The wooded hillside houses an eclectic collection of Buddha images, shrines, pagodas and halls and is set in lush tropical gardens with a real jungle feel to them. By the way check out the Buddhist cherubs surrounding a fountain and to whom numerous offerings have been made in the form of toys such as model cars or sodas – particularly cherry flavour for some reason. They are called Kuman Thong in Thai and are actually more sinister than regular cherubs since they represent spirits of unborn babies and were originally created using mummified, unborn or still born foetuses. Moving quickly on…
You’ll arrive in a car park surrounded by a few souvenir stalls and a good little cafe/coffee shop from where a flight of naga-lined steps leads up to the main temple buildings. You can skip this first flight of stairs and there’s a second car-park on this level but it’s neither long nor steep anyway. When we visited a rather aggressive pack of dogs inhabited the second parking, (as is far from rare in temple grounds), but just bending down to pick-up a pretend stone is usually enough to get them running. (If it doesn’t work, pick up a real stone!)
Here you’ll see a Chinese style shrine to the goddess of mercy and a rather impressive, though in traditional Lanna style, pale yellow hall who’s purpose we’re not sure of. A path leads upwards past various other statues and shrines dotted amongst the plants and trees. Though the path climbs gently along a ridge both sides are heavily forested and we found it difficult to get any views in any direction, let alone of the lake.
By Mark Ord.
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