Wat Phra Phutthabat Tak Pha

Temple chedi with leaves

Wat Phra Phutthabat Tak Pha

Wat Phra Phutthabat Tak Pha

The Wat Phra Phutthabhat Tak Pha is about 50 kilometers from Chiang Mai. From downtown Chiang Mai it takes a bit over an hour to get there. The temple is in Pasang district, Lamphun province. It is not to be confused with the Wat Phra Phutthabat in Saraburi province.

“Phutthabat” means “footprint of the Buddha”. “Tak Pha” refers the Buddha putting his robe to dry on a cliff at the temple during his visit to this location. The Wat Phra Phutthabat Tak Pha is a fascinating and interesting temple. It has the most impressive Naga staircase of North Thailand. The temple compound has two parts: the complex with the main viharn with the Buddha footprint and the temple on top of the hill, called Phrathat Chedi Si Kruba.

Temple chedi with leaves
The Phrathat Chedi Si Khruba at Wat Phutthabat Tak Pha

Hollywood exposure: Rambo 3

Some people know this temple from the beginning scene of the movie Rambo 3 from 1988. The main character John Rambo, played by the actor Sylvester Stallone, had gone in secluded retirement at a Buddhist temple in Thailand: Wat Phra Putthabhat Tak Pha.

Dragons with stairs to temple
Wat Phra Phutthabat Tak Pha stairs to Phrathat Chedi Si Khruba

Phrathat Chedi Si Kruba

An impressive Naga staircase of 469 steps leads to the second part of this magnificent temple complex. There are many monks studying and living at Wat Phra Phutthabat Tak Pha. To reach the foot of the stairway we will walk through a village of kuti, the monk’s accommodation. At this temple, there is no elevator. If you don’t want to walk up the stairway you can drive up to the Prathat Chedi Si Kruba. Walking up these seemingly endless stairways to Buddhist temples I always enjoy. Unlike at Wat Doi Suthep you will probably not be joined by a hundred people or more.

Stairway looking down
Wat Phraphutthabat Tak Pha stairway looking down

The Temple on the Mountain

After you have reached the Phrathat Chedi Si Kruba take a rest and enjoy the fantastic view. On a clear day you can see the mountains Doi Suthep and Doi Inthanon. This upper part of the temple dates back to 1988. Shortly after completion of the chedi on the mountain the Rambo 3 film crew must have arrived at the scene. They filmed John Rambo at the top of the stairway with the view in the background. There is a giant bell and there are two statues, of Kawila and his brother Boonma. Both played a role in the revival of Lanna and, in particular, Lamphun more than 200 years ago.