Photo: Wat Tham Phra Mae Ya.

Wat Tham Phra Mae Ya

Our rating:

Fronted by sugarcane fields and backed by the Khao Luang range in a remote corner of Sukhothai, Wat Tham Phra Mae Ya is a cave temple that makes for an unusual break from the ruins.

Travel better, travel smarter

Save money, receive our latest updates and get the most out of your travels.


The Temple of the Sacred Medicine Woman’s Cave greets you with a large walking Buddha, seated Buddha and golden lotus-shaped chedi framed by the forested mountains; all of these were built over the past few decades to mimic the ancient Sukhothai style. We arrived to find a pair of novice monks playing in an open-sided wihaan featuring rudimentary yet poignant murals of the Buddha meditating and teaching in the forest.

Novice at Wat Tham Phra Mae Ya. Photo taken in or around Wat Tham Phra Mae Ya, Sukhothai, Thailand by David Luekens.

Novice at Wat Tham Phra Mae Ya. Photo: David Luekens

Cruise around the corner to find the entrance to the temple’s namesake cave, marked by a stairway with colourful nagas on either railing. Situated beneath a huge pancake-shaped boulder, the small cave enshrines an image of Phra Mae Ya, a local deity that’s been worshipped since the Sukhothai period.

The image seen here today is a replica of the original, which was kept in the cave for centuries before being moved to a shrine in front of the Provincial Hall in New Sukhothai. It’s thought that King Ramkamhaeng commissioned the original as a dedication to his mother, Nang Suang. Flowers and silk gowns are often placed at the cave shrine to keep the female spirit content.

Wat Tham Phra Mae Ya is one of several active meditation monasteries set at the foot of the Khao Luang mountains, which are part of Ramkamhaeng National Park. From Wat Chetuphon it’s a scenic 11-kilometre cruise past rice paddies and tiny villages before the road ends at the ... Travelfish members only (Around 200 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

Don’t miss the boat!

Please subscribe to to read the rest of this article, or log in here.

Subscribing to Travelfish costs A$35 per year and it gets you access to more than 200 downloadable guides to specific destinations, fabulous discount coupons and 50% off our personalised travel planning service. Sign up here.


How to get there
From the road that rims the southern edge of the historical park’s central zone, head south past the old city guard post and continue for 1.5 kilometres. The sign-posted right (west) turn for Tham Phra Mae Ya Cave is next to a gas station, a couple of hundred metres north of Wat Chetuphon. Take the first left (south) from here and the road runs southwest for another 10 kilometres to Wat Tham Phra Mae Ya. Admission is free.

Location map for Wat Tham Phra Mae Ya

Book a flight, train, bus, taxi or ferry in Thailand with 12Go Asia

Popular attractions in Sukhothai

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Sukhothai.

Best places to stay in Sukhothai

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Sukhothai.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Sukhothai.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Sukhothai.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Sukhothai.
 Read up on how to get to Sukhothai, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Sukhothai? Please read this.
 Buy a SIM card for Thailand—pick it up at the airport when you arrive.
 Browse the web securely while travelling with TunnelBear. Try with a 7–day free trial.

Experience the Andaman Sea
Experience the Andaman Sea
Ad Spend 3 days / 2 nights on The Junk
From US$400.

Read more

See below for more sights and activities in Sukhothai that are listed on

Top of page

Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Sukhothai? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Thailand.

Top of page