Are they floating in the skies? Well, it sounds kind of poetic and comes from a Thai description, Jedee Loy Fah (เจดีย์ลอยฟ้า) Floating or not, the pagodas are spectacular, spread out over mountaintops, and looking from a distance you get a feeling of a Chinese ink painting of a mysterious, imaginary landscape that feels kind of unreachable.
However, it wasn’t. It took me a few years to get there, even it is less than 3 hours away from Chiang Mai.
The pagodas are closer to the city of Lampang, about 60 km. We did the trip together with some friends as part of a short weekend away in the cosy town of Lampang. (more about this town in a later blogpost).
Check the location on Google here. The real name of the pagodas are Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat(to pay tribute and respect to King and monarchy) and it is open from 7.30 in the morning until 4.30 in the afternoon. The pricing is different for Thais and foreigners, but for our Hong Kong friends, they got the Thai prince since they bought a special card for museums and National Parks in Thailand.
Once you arrive at the headquarters there are toilets, coffee shops, local restaurants and a ticketing centre. You have to book a local red pick up bus to travel the winding and bumpy road up to the point where you start walking. At that point, there is a nice cafeteria with astonishing views of the landscape, and then a well-prepared trail for you to walk on. This path gradually leads you up to a surprisingly well constructed wooden staircase that will take you to the top.
The kids in our group enjoyed this part and it didn’t take them long to reach the top. For my mother in law in her sixties, with some difficulty walking, she could also make it eventually, so different age groups can get there. Something you hardly believe when you see the pagodas in a distance. Estimate a 30 – 60 minutes walk depending on your condition. But remember to enjoy the walk-up.
The idea of a pagodas on mountain tops, is the conception of making an effort to get there. There has to be this effort of the pilgrimage to reach the top. You will see it at many places around Buddhist countries in Asia.
White and holy pagodas, peppering the mountain peaks were each carried up piece by piece by a respected monk and a team of nearly 50 workers.
Think about the dress code
Don’t forget that this is holy place. Men and women should have their legs covered at least to their knees. Tank tops/vests/singlets should be avoided. There is nowhere to rent clothes at the temple so you should bring from home.
It was a nice to go in August since it is in the middle of the green season. And less crowds, even less crowds during the pandemic. If there were 7 wonders of Northern Thailand, this is definitely one of them but it is not really on the beaten track yet for foreign visitors. However, do expect many Thai visitors on weekends and National holidays.
It is enjoyable to sit at the top and relish the views of the landscape, listen to temple bells and of course take plenty of pictures.