One of our favorite destinations in Northern Thailand is Wat Chalermprakiat (วัดเฉลิมพระเกียรติฯ) in Lampang Province. It’s also one of the coolest temples we’ve seen here (and we’re not generally huge temple fans). Considering this is just a two hour drive from Chiang Mai, almost nobody comes here. That makes it all the more amazing as you can be there with very few other people. The stairways and trails snaking their way up the forest-covered limestone mountains give this place a magical feel. It’s really like something out of a movie.
Wat Chalermprakiat is sometimes called Wat Phrabat Pu Pha Daeng (วัดพระบาทปู่ผาแดง). It may look like some ancient temple but it was actually built in 2004 to commemorate 200 years since the reign of King Rama IV of Thailand. Watch our video below to get a feel for the place, then keep reading for all the useful info.
Wat Chalermprakiat is our top activity in Lampang Province
Lampang is a northern province located east of Chiang Mai. Most of the tourism here is around temples and culture. The province is fairly popular with Thai tourists who love visiting famous temples, and soaking in the Northern Thai Lanna culture in a place slightly less modern and crowded than Chiang Mai. Lampang city also has small horse drawn carts that until recently were used as transportation and today survive to carry tourists and be in photos. There are also some mountain ranges, caves, hot springs, and national parks, but none as nice as more famous ones around the North. For us, Wat Chalermprakiat is the coolest thing to see in Lampang.
Best time to visit Wat Chalermprakiat
We visited here during the rainy season and would recommend that as the best time to go. For one thing, the rains mean even fewer people than usual. The water also makes the forests that grow out of the jagged limestone really lush and beautiful. The clouds floating by and occasionally enveloping the pagodas in fog creates a mystical feeling.
We also recommend going during the week and not during any Thai holidays to have the fewest other people around. If you can’t go during rainy season, December through February are very nice. This is the cold season and it may have nice clouds and still some greenery. You’ll want to bring a warm jacket. The times to avoid would be March-May as the North of Thailand has a burning season at this time. The trees will likely be fairly brown and dry, and the views won’t be very good due to the haze. At certain times the air even gets to unhealthy levels for breathing. The exact start and end dates of the burning season vary year to year depending on the rains.
Getting to Wat Chalermprakiat
Wat Chalermprakiat is in Chae Hom District (แจ้ห่ม), Lampang Province. Unfortunately, there’s no good public transportation option to there. It’s best to get there with your own transport, either a car or motorbike from Chiang Mai. Once you arrive, you park at the temple at the bottom and pay 100 Baht (return included) to buy a ticket for the shuttle to the top. The road up is steep and narrow and they sensibly only allow their drivers to use it. You will be dropped off on the mountain but still have a 20-30 minute walk up to the pagodas at the top. It’s almost entirely uphill and much of the way is on steel staircases. It’s somewhat strenuous but there are lots of places to rest on the way up. There is also some rain cover along the path. You could easily do it in flip flops but you might prefer shoes
Once you’re at the top, just look around and enjoy. There are plenty of places to explore and different views and vantage points you can get. Take your time and move through slowly. Remember that many of the people visiting are there for religious reasons and to honor a revered former King of Thailand, so be respectful.