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Wat Palad: The Secret Jungle Temple in Chiang Mai I Shouldn’t Even Tell You About

Wat Palad
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I shouldn’t even be telling you about this place. It’s that special.

Wat Palad (or Wat Pha Lat) is a temple in Chiang Mai that is tucked away in the heart of the jungle. If you desire to be a typical tourist in Thailand, I urge you to go to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. There, you’ll find hundreds of touts and vendors pushing a melange of souvenirs and fake Thai food. I mean, that’s the root of real culture, isn’t it?

As a matter of fact, I’ll tell you now: don’t even bother going to Doi Suthep. Temples aren’t about entry fees and shiny steeples. They represent something more meaningful.

Go here instead.

Wat Pha Lat is a secret jungle temple hidden in Chiang Mai

Wat Palad is a secret jungle temple hidden in Chiang Mai

I sauntered into Wat Palad under the cover of tall greenery. “Another temple,” I thought. Asia is full of them.

But I moseyed further, and what I encountered was magical. I had been directed into a temple built within the jungle, enshrining elephants and dragons, the wordly and unworldly side-by-side. Streams poured out of the hills, culminating into a large rock waterfall overlooking the Chaing Mai skyline. Dogs roamed freely and, above me, a large spider clung to its capacious web. Small bridges and footpaths joined statues of Buddhas, dragons, worshipers, candle-holders and stone carvings.

I could sense the connectedness of this temple, its people and the earth. It had been built under the pretense of harmony, and I could feel it.

Wat Pha Lat is built within the forest, not in spite of it

Wat Palad is built within the forest, not in spite of it

Sometime around the age of 15, during those really awkward years when I was still struggling to understand my own belief system, my mother produced a number of books on Buddhism, which I found interesting and quickly devoured. I never meditated and I never became a Buddhist in practice, but I did appropriate many of the Buddha’s teachings into my life.

Baby Buddha is very happy!

Baby Buddha is very happy!

I took to understanding the beauty in the impermanence of life, and accepting its inherent transiency. I realized that toxic mentations came from a place of desire, in which I wanted things in life that I simply could not have. Buddhism, however, teaches to clear ones being of wants, vices and desires because suffering stems only from these virulent deliberations. I learned that I would only be able to find peace within myself and not through the world or others.

Statued Monks at Wat Pha Lat

Statued Monks at Wat Palad

These teachings were significant to me in that they literally shaped the way I see the world. But, as time passes, and ten years go by, sometimes we forget about those defining stages of our lives. Stepping into Wat Palad, though, memories of these beliefs and teachings hit me straight upside the head. Somehow, this temple that I didn’t even know existed one hour prior, elicited remembrance. And then peace.

Making an offering

Making an offering

In fact, it’s one of the most peaceful and enchanting places I’ve ever been. This beautifully crafted temple in the middle of the jungle in Chiang Mai is the one place on this earth where, for me, true peace can still exist.

About the Author: Jeremy Foster

Born in America, Jeremy, an IT specialist by trade, packed up his belongings and left home on an open-ended trip to Australia. Years later, he's still on the move and exploring other countries. He is now a mobile cocktail bartender and the head writer for travelFREAK! You can usually find him on either side of the bar, acting wanky and pretentious about booze.

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  • Jess

    I love the places where the temple is being overgrown by the forest – it looks so natural!

    • Jeremy Foster

      It is such a unique place, Jess. Very special!

  • Robin Ratte

    Not trying to attack or be rude but here is a quote from yourself “As a person, and especially as a traveler, please, remember your manners. You are an ambassador for your country. Give the locals a reason to love you, not to hate you.”

    You were asked by a Thai person not to disclose the location of the temple. The pictures etc. are fine but I think it’s in everyone’s best interest you remove the directions. It’s not necessary for the article to have and it’s contradictory to your own statement and beliefs.

    When you got something special you should hold onto it. Don’t want it to become the next Maya Bay / Koh Phi Phi; once an untouched treasure now a cesspool of drunken travelers just following suit.

    • anonymous

      “Wat Palad: The Secret Jungle Temple in Chiang Mai I Shouldn’t Even Tell You About”
      The first line even declares that you shouldn’t mention it especially not the location.

      Sometimes you just have to think about what the best is for the locals and the places not to mention the fact that you are messing with Thai people newly involved in the Thai mafia. Just tred lightly.

      • Jeremy Foster

        I never said anything about the mafia…

    • Jeremy Foster

      You’re right, Robin. I wouldn’t want that. Realistically, Wat Palad isn’t going to become overrun by tourists because of one article I write, but I appreciate your concern for the state of Thailand, which is surely depleting due to tourism.

      Because of your level headed approach to making a valid argument (this time), I have removed the directions to the temple per your request. You are right, I did say I wouldn’t tell people how to get here. A simple Google search gives people step by step instructions with photos, anyway.

      I do hope it will remain unscathed for my next visit. It’s a very special place.

  • Evan M

    Those are some great pictures! I think we would love to be able to visit this place when we finally make our way to southeast Asia.

    • Jeremy Foster

      I hope you can make it! It’s even better in real life.

  • Derek4Real

    Damn…if only I’d seen this post a day earlier. I’m moving on from Chiang Mai tomorrow. Too many white people here for me. (And yes, I do realize I’m white…but still.)

    • Jeremy Foster

      I know the feeling, mate. But I think you’ll find that most anywhere in Thailand, unfortunately…

      • Derek4Real

        Exactly why I’ve skipped Thailand all these years until now!

  • Jennifer Dombrowski

    Looks like a beautiful temple! We didn’t visit Chiang Mai on our recent trip to Thailand, but we did visit Chiang Rai.

    • Jeremy Foster

      Did you make it to the White Temple?

      • Jennifer Dombrowski

        Yes! The white temple was gorgeous!

  • Emily Marie

    Okay, so i was being the typical tourist :( Missed this again

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