Acha Thong Forest Monastery: ‘See the relaxing temple while bestowing foods upon horse-riding monks.’
If your purpose of visiting Chiang Rai is to see all temples. Then here is another one that you should never miss. This one is guaranteed to be something that you haven’t seen before.
Let’s go and see Acha Thong Forest Monastery.
The story of this monastery started from Kruba Nua Chai, the abbot of the monastery, who has always wanted to spread Buddhism to uncivilised areas. He tries to encourage villagers by telling them that they should send their children to have a monkhood study at the monastery, as that will be a valuable opportunity.
Beside of spreading and maintaining Buddhism, Kruba Nua Chai has also done something that inspires many other monks at the temple.
Kruba Nua Chai always ride on a back of a horse for his Binthabat. (** An important daily activity of all monks, which is about wander around to get bestowed foods from villagers.) In fact, he first started his Binthabat by walking. But the villagers around there felt pity for him were afraid that he will be too exhausted. Therefore they bestowed a horse upon Kruba Bua Chai, hoping that he would ride on its back for his Binthabat. From then on, Kruba Nua Chai started to go on his Binthabat by riding a horse instead. He named his horse ‘Acha Thong’, as it looks so strong and active. Later, the horse’s name became the name of the monastery too.
This is quite interesting, because, normally, monks always walk on their feet for Binthabat. Therefore, villagers who pay their respect to Kruba Nua Chai have been talking about what he does. From that point, other monks started to ride on horses for Binthabat too, just like Kruba Nua Chai. And that created a unique appearance for the monastery. Most tourists, both Thai and foreign, travel to Acha Thong Monastery frequently, in order to see this memorable image.
However, riding on a horse for Binthabat has never been so easy. The roads around the monastery are quite curved and rough. That causes difficulties for the monks. When their hourses run, sometimes their foods spill out of their containers. But every monks still ride on these horses for Binthabat, no matter what happen.
If you have a chance, you can go up to this monastery too like many others, especially if it is your birthday. Just imagine it, you are at Acha Thong Monastery and bestow food upon the monks on your birthday. How nice will that be? Won’t that be your valuable experience of merit making? Yes. Of course, it will be.
How to get there
There are two different ways to get there.
First, you use the path Chiang Rai – Mae Chan. Just keep going until you pass Mae Chan ounty for about 1 kilometres, then you will find an intersection. You shold turn left to Doi Mae Salong.
Lastly, drive along the highway Chiang Rai-Mae Sai. As soon as you pass Mae Chan County for about 4 kilometres, you should reach the path to Acha Thong Forest Monastery soon. Don’t worry. There is a sign written the direction. Just follow it.
Opening hours and Entrance fee : Opens daily from 6.30 am until 6 pm. Admission is free.
Note : Not accessible for wheelchair user
Acha Thong Forest Monastery Map