The monks trail is one of the most popular trails in Chiang Mai and leads from the bottom of the mountain just behind the zoo to the famous Wat Doi Suthep, the most famous temple in the area and is clearly visible on the hill from anywhere in the city.

The trail itself starts at the back of the university or zoo, wherever you decide to travel from. You can click here to find the starting point. The starting point is around a 15 minute drive from the old town and 10 minutes from Nimman. There is also a shortcut if you are on foot which goes through the university grounds. The total climb up and back will take around 2 hours but if you’re strapped for time you can always just hike to Wat Pha Lat, which is around halfway and very beautiful in its own right.
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At the base of the climb there is a small parking area for a few cars and some motorbikes. There is a gate and a big sign saying that off road motor bikes and mountain bikes are forbidden. 
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The trail winds gently through the forest along a really nice track until you reach the first point called Wat Pha Lat. This is a really special temple located in the forest and there is a magical feel when you come to this point. You’ll cross over a bridge where there is an amazing lake with beautiful refections of the city below. The view point from here is stunning and on a clear day you can see all the beautiful mountains from behind Chiang Mai city. 
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The path then takes you along the right hand side of the river and up a very steep embankment. This section is very steep and you’ll need some good grippy shoes to navigate this part. The trail will come to the road after this so take a left and just before the road turns you’ll see the orange cloth from the monks wrapped around some bamboo on the other side of the road.
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This marks the start of the next section of the trail. The beginning is very steep but then it levels off for around 20 or 30 minutes depending on your speed. There is a power line that runs along above the trail so theres no way you could ever get lost here. 
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You’ll come to a river crossing which marks around 2/3 of the way up the track. After this the trail becomes quite steep until you reach the road up ahead. If you want to go to the temple you follow the road and you can’t miss it. 
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From here you can check out one of the most beautiful temples in all of Chiang Mai. The views from the top are really quite something and you’ll have great views over Chiang Mai. 
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If you don’t want to walk back down the hill you can take a songthaew from right outside the temple. They’ll take you back to the bottom for 30-40 THB. They wont go unless they are full so you may have to wait around for them for a short time if you’re the first there. 
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Logistics for the trip

How to get there

The trail starts from behind the university at the back entrance to the Chiang Mai Zoo. You can check the starting point by clicking here.
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If you’ve done this hike or are planning to please leave a comment, I’d love to know how you got on.