Nestled deep in the mountains of Northern Thailand resides Wat Pha Sorn Kaew, or rather – Temple On A Glass Cliff. This magical dream-scape is straight out of a fairy tale! Enormous green peaks rise and fall creating an ocean of dense jungle. In the winter months the clouds hang low, clinging to the mountains, giving the illusion you are floating above them!
The complex is made up of two temples – they have been ten years in the making and still not completely done. Every time that I go there I see something new that wasn’t completed the previous time! The two temples combined are decorated ornately with over 5 million pieces of tiles, gems, stones, and ceramic all mosaic-ed (is that a word?) together making every corner of the grounds equally interesting and awe inspiring.
Needless to say I am obsessed with this place, it is as colorful as it is spiritual, I could wander the grounds 100 times and never become bored! Fortunately, I was placed in the capital of this province to teach English so its only an hour and a half away from me! For many others it is much more difficult to get to, Phetchabun is a province located about 6-7 hours north of Bangkok, relatively in the middle of nowhere, BUT if you have time and are traveling Thailand this is an absolute must visit!
How to get there:
Wat Pha Sorn Kaew is located in Khao Kho, in Phetchabun Province. There is no functioning public airport in Phetchabun so the only way to get to this temple is by bus or car. If you are traveling from Bangkok you can take a direct bus to Lom Sak – buy your tickets from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal: Mo Chit.
Go to counter 42, the tickets should be around 250 Baht (7 USD). To Lom Sak it will take around six hours, and to Phetchabun City it will take around five and a half – you will stop for 30 mins for food at a rest stop!
If you depart in the city or in Lom Sak you can then hire a Song Thaew to take you up the mountain. These are basically pick up trucks with benches in the back! They should charge around 1,000 – 1,500 Baht (28-40 USD) for a round trip.
If there are no song thaew’s in sight you can go to the counter and ask to go to Khao Kho, there is a second class bus that stops there en route to Phitsonolok, this should only be around 60 Baht (2 USD). Once you arrive in Khao Kho you will have to arrange some sort of transport to the temple as it is up in the hills, off the highway. This could be difficult so I advise you ask around in town for a song thaew.
Where to stay:
I would recommend that you stay in the city of Phetchabun, there will be motorbike taxis and Tuk Tuk’s (Thailand’s version of a taxi) waiting at the bus terminal. Here are some good places to stay!
Located on the outskirts of the city you have the best view of the mountains and rice patties, which make up all of the countryside. The rooms are clean and the food is great! You also will have access to their gorgeous pool, which is definitely a plus!
This is a great location – it is right in the center of town and you can walk to the best markets, restaurants and bars. The rooms are very basic but only 10 USD a night!
This is also a good location and rooms are slightly nicer than The One, and it’s the same price – as will be all of the small hotels in Phetchabun offering your basic amenities! It is just a little bit of a further walk to the markets so if you don’t have a bike or scooter it may be inconvenient.
Where to eat and drink:
Phetchabun is very secluded and not very touristy at all. Most of the best places are stalls and little shops in the markets.
My best advice to you is to check out Pojan Market (pronounced PohhJAhN.) You can get a motorbike taxi there, or walk! There are some of the best stalls, my personal favorite are noodles. look for the banner with the Lion King Lion above it and ask for “Tom Yum Moo”!
In the city, T-Bar is a great place if you want to sit down and have a drink! All along the water are good bars and restaurants. This area is called ‘Sat Yao‘, locals should understand what you are talking about.
Closer to SR Residence Hotel on the outside of town is Zum Tum, this is a great restaurant complete with AC and fun vibes! It has the best Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad) around!
I know that Phetchabun is a bit out-of-the-way but it will definitely not disappoint! I hope that these tips will help you on your next adventure to Wat Pha Sorn Kaew!
Keep on smiling!