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Home Thailand Chiang Rai’s Secret Cave Temples ⇒ Doi Kong Khao Meditation Centre

Chiang Rai’s Secret Cave Temples

4Doi Kong Khao Meditation Centre

Our next stop is the outcrop you see a bit further upstream and across the river. To get there, carry on up the road for another 3 kilometres. There are some houses along the way, followed by a twisty, hilly stretch but it’s not too steep. The road passes by fields of tobacco and rice paddy and the occasional banana plantation. Up and down the steep hill, across a small bridge into a wide, flat valley of rice paddies. There is a turn to the left at a brightly painted village temple, Wat Theppawan. Take this out of the village.

A house on the mountainside hidden amongst tropical trees and flowers.
A house on the mountainside
hidden amongst tropical trees and flowers.

Less than a kilometre up the road you come to a T-junction. Turn left again and follow the main road through another larger village, Bahn Rim-Gok. The road turns sharply left and then right through the village, straightening out as it approaches the river. There is a new bridge across with the remains of a motorcycle bridge next to it. Just across the river looms Chiang-Rai prison, home to not a few farang for drugs offences. Go past this, or you can cycle right round if you feel curious, the wooden garden furniture you see is made by the convicts and is for sale. The road turns sharply right then joins a busier road at a T-junction. If you turn right, the road heads up deep into the hills and to some sulphurous hot springs past the elephant camp on the other bank. However, we turn left and head to Doi Kong-Kao which is on the way back to Chiang-Rai.

Cave 3Wat Doi Kong Khao

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The main entrance is past the mountain itself though there are other roads in before that. There are a large number of buildings around the base of the karst and is quite a busy place. It’s main purpose is as a meditation retreat for women and you will see many dressed in white robes, so please be quiet and respectful. There is a sala against the mountain with the main Buddha image and several smaller ones behind.

The karst of Wat Doi Kong Khao
Wat Doi Kong Khao rises abruptly from the fields.

As you’d expect, there are caves. These are reached by a flight of steps to the left of the main sala. There is a light switch on a stand near the bottom of the steps, a small offering is asked to help pay the bills. It’s better to go up and see if the light is on before playing with the breaker and inadvertently switching off while there is someone inside. I would highly recommend that you take your own torch in case the lights do go out while you are inside, it’s pitch black and easy to fall. The caves are quite long, with several deep chambers and galleries. Small alters and Buddha images are placed in cracks in the rock and at the ends of the galleries. These caves are used by the monks for meditation and during these times the caves are closed to visitors, usually at night.

If you continue walking round the mountain in clockwise direction, on the side opposite the temple you will see a large flight of steps going up. The path is quite narrow and rough at times but a bamboo railing makes it safe and the spectacular views make it a must. The platform at the top is at an altitude of 500 metres above sea level.

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