Hiking to the Wat Phra That of Doi Ngum – Thailand

Dragon from the Wat Phra That Temple of Doi Ngum

The Doi Ngum is a small summit from the Doi Ton range located East of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. The majority of the hike is located on the Lamphun province but the summit in itself is on the Chiang Mai province. The Doi Ngum is popular amongst locals for its temple on top. Though it cannot be compared with the impressive Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the Wat Phra That Doi Ngum (locally know as พระธาตุดอยผาง้ม ) is still worth the shot not for its stature (it’s a tiny sanctuary) but for its view above the raw Thai jungle, the absence of tourists, and the fact you actually have to walk to reach it.

Side note: though I don’t speak Thai, I can only assume that Doi means Mountain or Summit, and Wat Phra That means Temple. Which would therefore translate this hike to “The Temple of the Mountain Ngum”

Full Disclaimer

Being a pretty advanced hiker, what you are about to read might not be applicable to you. 
Please get to know who I am before adventuring yourself in this article.
We do not all react the same way to the local environment and the weather could turn out to be very different.
Make sure you understand your body and mental fitness before engaging yourself in rough hikes. 

Quick Summary:
– Hike type: 1 out of 2 stars Out-and-back
– Packing: 1 out of 3 stars (1 / 3) Small day pack (~10L) with enough water
– Hike length: 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) – 12.2km / 7.6miles roundtrip. Doable in less than 4h
– 
Hike elevation: 1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) 535m / 1755ft – 4.40% overall steepness
– Accessibility: 1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) – The start location requires the use of a personal vehicle
– Overall difficulty: 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) – A hike that feels much shorter than it actually is

Author’s note: having lost most of my Thailand’s pictures, I’m sorry to say there’s not a lot to illustrate that hike

Preparation

There is no water anywhere close to this hike, so fill up before you leave Chiang Mai.
Wearing a short and t-shirt (not cotton) is enough, but do not wear flip-flops! Grab a real pair of hiking shoes (or at the very least some sneakers).
Wear a hat.
Grab a few things to snack on and a couple of protein bars.

Doubting about what you should wear? Read this article about Appropriate Hiking Gear.

Getting There

GPS Coordinates: 18.674428, 99.175342
The Wat Phra That Doi Ngum trail start is located 20km East-SouthEast of Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand.
To get there, there are no other solutions for you but to drive there with your own vehicle (most likely a scooter that you can rent for the day).
Should you be more than two, you can always try to rent a taxi with its driver for the day, but it’s unsure if that option is cheaper.
Right after crossing the bridge, the road will turn to dust. Park your vehicle at the end of the concret road, on the side in order not to block anyone.

Hiking the Wat Phra That Doi Ngum Trail

VIew of the Doi Ngum between trees
VIew of the Doi Ngum between trees

The Wat Phra That Doi Ngum (also known as พระธาตุดอยผาง้ม ) trail starts in-between private farms.
After reaching the end of the concrete road, start your walk on the obvious dirt road for 1km. You will reach an intersection with a paved road and some sort of a building on your left. Keep walking straight as your path turns into a concrete road also.
The going up part starts here.
Stay on what is now a paved road but do not wish for your scooter, the path soon turns into dirt again. The entire trail is actually a mix of dirt parts and concrete parts, except for the end which turn into a a pure forest trail.
On the dirt parts you will have to go through very high grass and bamboos. Since you won’t see what you’re stepping on, make plenty of vibration with your feet to deter any snakes that could be there (unlikely).
Finally, after 5km since you started walking, you’ll reach the pure forest trail part. You’re not far away from your objective.
Once you reach the top, admire the view, get a look at the small temple (please respect local customs), then head back the way you came from.

Panorama from the top of Doi Ngum
Panorama from the top of Doi Ngum
The Doi Ngum Trail map
The Doi Ngum Trail map

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