Wat Tham Pa Archa Thong Temple name from ‘Archa’, or ‘horse’ in Thai, from the unique practice of the monks available only at this temple: to go for alms offerings on horseback. At the temple, the monks and the novices live close to the horses. This is an interesting way of life of monks who live among forests, an Unseen Thailand that’s worth a visit.
Phra Kruba Nuea Chai Kosito, the abbot of Wat Tham Pa Archa Thong, was the one who started bringing horses to use as a means of transport at the temple. As the secluded place is located km from the village, from where the route passes through mountains and fields, the abbot who was an ex-trooper saw that horses were the most convenient carrier for monks.
At Wat Tham Pa Archa Thong, Phra Kruba Nuea Chai works with determination to propagate Buddhism to villagers who are tribal people. These villagers worship spirits or practice Christianity as were taught by the missionaries in old days. The abbot tries to convince them to send their children to enter the monkhood and receive education at the temple. This would partly help solve the problem of drug smuggling across the border and encourage people to embark on an honest career.
If you are interested in the unique way of life at Wat Tham Pa Archa Thong can join alms offerings and watch horse show in Lan Phra Keaw. Phra Kruba Nuea Chai and other monks and novices will come to ask for alms every morning from 7.00-7.30 am, or until 8.00 am if there are a lot of visitors. Alms are available at Lan Phra Keaw for those who are not prepared to join the offerings beforehand. Moreover, the temple area is serene and pleasant. There are a coffee shop for chilling out and a stable where tourists can enjoy their time with the horses. Those who drive are recommended to come early as the parking space may fill up.
How to get there: There are to routes for Wat Tham Pa Archa Thong:
- Chiang Rai-Mae Chan Route – Drive past Amphoe Mae Chan for about 1 km and turn left into the road for Mae Salong. Drive on for about 5 km and turn right at the police box. Follow the signs for the Golden Horse Monastery/ Wat Tham Pa Archa Thong.
- Chiang Rai-Mae Sai Route (Highway A1) – Distance from Amphoe Moeng to the entrance to Wat Tham Pa Archa Thong totals 28 km, whereas distance from Amphoe Mae Chan is about 4-5 km. The road to the temple is located beside Wai Kham Mae Luang. Follow the signs for about 5-7 km. Cars can travel up to Lan Phra Keaw. Distance from the bridge totals 2 km.