Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu: Temple on the Hill, Pai
This amazing temple on the hill overlooking Mae Hong Son and Pai is a haven of tranquility offering one of the best views in Thailand.
Imagine two gleaming white stupas sitting atop a hill in the rural heartland of northern Thailand. The scenery is lush and the landscape spreads out beneath your feet for miles and miles. The temple of Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu might sound a bit of a mouthful, but it’s actually a very simple place. Welcome to the best temple view in Thailand! If you need advice on how to get to Pai, ask our staff at Bodega Chiang Mai!
A Worthy Climb
Warning- the kind of landscape views you get here don’t come for free! The best way to appreciate the vista unfolding beneath your feet is to strap on your walking shoes and start climbing, so fill up your water and put your best foot forward. The climb is steep but well-marked, with paved stairways and even some stone lions to guide you on your ascent.
There are two routes you can take, one which starts at the temple of Wat Phra Non and passes through forest on the way, and another that starts from Wat Muo Taw and keeps you out in the open. Your choice should probably depend on the strength of the sun when you arrive as it can be seriously hot on the open stairways. Both routes will take about half an hour to walk up on foot. You could drive up of course, but where would be the fun in that?!
A Wealth of History
There’s plenty to see once you’ve arrived at the temple on the hill. The main feature of this beautiful site is the pair of chedis that sit in the center of the temple complex. These are no modern constructions, they were built in the 1860’s and are the final resting place for a famous Burmese monk and the first governor of Mae Hong Son province.
When the air is clear (let’s not talk about burning season!) you can see over the border into Myanmar, so it’s no surprise that this has long been a pilgrimage spot for Buddhist devotees.
Once you’ve appreciated the chedis then move on to the traditional viharn prayer hall, complete with a Burmese-style roof structure. If you’re into your architecture then you’ll know this is a very interesting ‘fusion’ building. If you’re not into your architecture then you’ll still appreciate it for a nice photo!
After wandering around the main compound soaking up the peace and quiet, head further up the hill to see a large Buddha figure seated on a pedestal and a small hilltop shrine guarded by Naga serpents. You thought the view was good before? It just got better!
Perfect for the Mae Hong Son loop
This is a great place to visit on a day trip from Mae Hong Son or Pai, and makes a great stop-off for those adventurous souls who are taking on the Mae Hong Son loop by motorbike. The temple is 3 km outside Mae Hong Son town so if you’re coming from Pai you’ll need to budget a couple of hours each way for the journey.
The best views can be seen at sunrise and sunset, when the light is golden and the scenery tinged with mist. We’d recommend staying overnight at a guesthouse nearby to make the most of your visit as this is not a view to be rushed! The complex is open in daylight hours all year round and the monks are friendly and welcoming to visitors, so charge up your camera and get ready for the views of a lifetime.