Thailand has breathtaking sites, but there are also tiny, unassuming places that can win you over with their simplicity. Tham Tu Pu definitely belongs to the latter.
Set in the countless shades of green in the farmland around Chiang Rai is an elegant sculpture of Buddha that looks as if it were rising from the thick vegetation at its base. This dusty white figure of the Buddha stands out against a limestone formation, making it easy to spot.
The site consists of a rundown building housing the only monk on site (and his cats), a small temple, a set of intriguing statues, a dingy cave, and the large image of the Buddha that looms over the compound. A set of steep steps cuts through the limestone cliff and leads to the cave, within which is a small table with a statue of Buddha mounted on top. The statues by the temple depict monks praying with their hands covering their faces.
Know Before You Go
Although it is no more than about half a mile (two kilometers) from the center of Chiang Rai by crow’s flight, all the possible routes wind and intersect through farmland, adding a good mile or so (about four kilometers) to the distance, which makes for a great bike or motorbike outing. Take the main road heading north of Chiang Rai. Take the first left after crossing Kok River and head west.