There’s a famous temple on a hilltop here in Chiang Mai called Doi Suthep. It’s where all the tourists go, climbing innumberable steps to the summit to look down on the city below, bypassing peddlers and tourist traps, scammers, and stray dogs all along the way. It’s a temple, and about as commercial as it gets.
What most people don’t know is that just a few kilometers below Doi Suthep is another temple: Wat Palad. It’s as serene and tranquil as you’d expect of a serious meditation retreat.
You can hike up to it, and encounter the beautiful waterfall at the summit, or you can drive straight to it (as we like to do because we are lazy).
Almost no one but monks is ever there, so you’re free to traipse over the ancient grounds and explore the hidden treasures without anyone accosting you and asking for money.
It’s worth a visit if you’re ever in the area!