Visiting a famous pilgrimage temple in the Mae Rim Region

To start the New Year, we decided to make a trip to Wat Phra Phutthabat Si Roi to make some merit. The temple is famous for its four Buddha footprints and is located in the hills in the Mae Rim region north of Chiang Mai. While foreigners hardly frequent the place, this relatively new temple is a popular pilgrimage destination for Thai people.

arch entrance detail

A half-day-trip from Chiang Mai on a mainly small road

Finding the temple is not easy; you will need to follow Highway 107 coming from Chiang Mai and turn left on rural road 3011. All signposts are in Thai, but they show Buddha footprints, so in case you cannot read Thai as most of us, following these signs should help you reach the destination. The journey through small villages, rice paddies, farming fields, and in the end, slowly driving up the hills makes this half-day trip from Chiang Mai worthwhile in itself.

An arch flanked by fearsome nagas

Wat Phra Buddhabat Si Roi arch

At the entrance of Wat Phra Phutthabat Si Roi, there is an impressive arch – still partly under construction, flanked by two gold and black nagas. These serpent-like creatures guard many, if not all Buddhist temples in South-East Asia. Their fearsome presence is meant to prevent evil spirits from entering the temple grounds. Another explanation for their occurrence is that they represent river serpents, and as such, symbolize water and fertility.

Attaching gold leaves to the Buddha footprints

After the arch is a spacious car park with food stalls, flower offering shops, and herbal medicine sellers. The temple grounds house a variety of temple buildings, Buddha statues, and gardens. You can visit the building with the Buddha footprints by climbing the stairs in the right corner of the car park. The most significant footprint is almost 3 meters long; the other 3 have more realistic proportions. Visitors pray for their wishes to come true by offering flowers and attaching gold leaves to the imprints.

putting gold leaves on Buddha footprints

Buddha footprints as a symbol of peace and enlightenment

The story goes that pilgrims found these four Buddha footprints and built a temple near them. It is in fact a result of an ancient Buddhist tradition to imprint the feet of a statue of Buddha on wet ground so that it leaves a print. The followers of Buddhism have created these prints for over two thousand years. They have become a symbol of peace and enlightenment and a place for people to visit to find these things themselves.

richly ornamented Wat Phra Buddhabat Si Roi

A generously decorated golden temple

On the upper left-hand side of the temple, you will find the actual Wat Phra Phutthabat Si Roi a bit further uphill. It is a richly ornamented golden temple with similar, this time intertwined, gold and black nagas as seen at the complex entrance. The temple is constructed in such a way that it always stays nicely cool inside. Surrounding the golden temple, you will also see several chained balls, again heavily decorated with gold leaves, and some wishing wells with coins inside.

gold leaved balls at golden temple ground

Blessings from the monk

Somewhere in between the shrine with the Buddha footprints and the golden temple, in a small open building, you can find the head monk endlessly reciting the names of the people that have made their donations to the temple. At the end of each citing cycle, the monk blesses the attendees by richly splashing water over their heads.

Buddha inside Wat Phra Buddhabat Si Roi

A pleasant journey to a picturesque spot in the hills

Located in the middle of nowhere at a scenic spot on the hills of Mae Rim about 70 kilometers from Chiang Mai city, visiting the Buddha footprints at Wat Phra Phutthabat Si Roi surely guarantees an enjoyable pass time.