Visiting Wat Tha Ton: a Magnificent Buddhist Temple in Northern Thailand

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There is something alluring about mountains. We don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to climb a green, rocky hill seen from a window or while wandering on the outskirts of a town. For us, being surrounded by lush mountains in Chiang Mai is a special experience, not because we hike there every week, but simply because we love the view around us.

Wat Tha Ton
The road leading to the Crystal Pagoda in Wat Tha Ton, Thailand.

After a few weeks of observing the awesome nature surrounding the city, we had the chance to travel to the north of the country, close to the Burmese border, where we explored the mountains, valleys and small, local villages.

One of the most beautiful experiences of our excursion was our visit to Wat Tha Ton, a Buddhist complex located above Tha Ton village and the Kok River. The site is spread out over an area of 160 acres, extensive enough for a half- or full-day trip, especially when visiting all levels by walking.

Wat Tha Ton
The bridge over the Kok river in Tha Ton village.

The multi-level complex captivates the eye with different statues, stupas, a meditation centre (closed when we visited) and a newly built pagoda on the top. While visiting four levels of the Wat Tha Ton, we were incredibly lucky with the weather that offered a spectacular view from the Crystal Pagoda at the top.

Wat Tha Ton
The spectacular Chedi Kaew – the Crystal Pagoda of Wat Tha Ton.

As soon as we entered we were overwhelmed by the incredible number of Buddha statues coming from many different countries.

Wat Tha Ton
A golden Buddha on the ground level of the Crystal Pagoda.
Wat Tha Ton
A laughing Chinese Buddha in the Crystal Pagoda.

There is a spiral platform that leads to the top level of the building. The blue vault is decorated with representation of Buddha and contains a magnificent orb surrounded by two dragons.

Wat Tha Ton
The blue vault with depictions of Buddha in the Crystal Pagoda.
Wat Tha Ton
A pilgrim praying in front of the relics of Buddha in the Crystal Pagoda.


Wat Tha Ton
The orb with the relics of Buddha in the Crystal Pagoda.

We went to see the first two levels (also called stations for Buddhist pilgrimage) early in the morning. Thanks to this, we had the precious privilege to enjoy the place in peace, as we were the only visitors together with monks and dogs.

Wat Tha Ton
The majestic White Buddha in Wat Tha Ton.

Compared to the overcrowded temples of Bangkok and Chiang Mai, the Wat Tha Ton complex is a real secluded place, perfect for contemplation. Even if you are not that keen on meditative practice, believe us, you will love the feeling of tranquillity while walking among the statues and buildings.

Wat Tha Ton
Phra Sang-Krachai – the statue of a Buddha among the luxuriant vegetation of Wat Tha Ton.
Wat Tha Ton
The staircase leading to the first level of the complex.
Wat Tha Ton
One of the giant dragon fountain of Wat Tha Ton.

Driving there will take you 3-4 hours, but there are also buses from Chiang Mai or boats from Chiang Rai. If you decide to stay in the village overnight, you have a decent choice of guesthouses or small hotels.

So, if you seek a non-touristic place not too far from Chiang Mai and you have a pair of good hiking shoes, this place is the right choice for you.

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7 thoughts on “Visiting Wat Tha Ton: a Magnificent Buddhist Temple in Northern Thailand”

  1. Nice photos and good review! I found your Blog some days ago and now I’m following. I live in Chiang Mai since some months but still not travelled up to Tha Ton. If you have time I suggest to put in your agenda Mae Hong Son area and the Golden Triangle surroundings. The road from Chiang Saen Chiang Khong is amazing for taking impresive photos!

    Keep in touch, best regards

    1. Thank you, Iñaki. Your suggestions are much appreciated. We will consider these destinations as they must be beautiful 🙂

  2. A very interesting article, thanks a lot! Any advice about visiting Kamphaeng Phet while traveling to Thailand? Any interesting place to visit there? I am particularly interested in nature and sceneries, so maybe some waterfall sights or something like that?

    1. Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Mastak,
      Never been to Kamphaeng Phet, but if you love waterfalls, then check out Erawan National Park, Doi Inthanon park. The area near Chiang Mai is full of beautiful waterfalls, too. Happy travels!

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