Forest monastery Wat Tam Wua. North Thailand.

After a great experience of Hindu culture in Sivanada ashram (and more info on the ashram) we decided to visit a Buddhist monastery near Pai, Wat Tam Wua. Read below.

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How to get to the forest monastery Wat Tam Wua?

Take a bus or mini van from the arcade bus station in Chiang Mai or Pai that is going to Mae Hong Son. The driver will know where to stop if you tell them you’re going to Wat Tam Wua in Baan Mae Suya village. Off the bus, the signs will lead you to the monastery which is around 2 km walk on the road.

When we arrived we could understand why the name ‘forest monastery’. It’s surrounded by lush green forest, high hills, rivers and caves. Beautiful. Monastery complex is big, with lots of accommodation, dorms and cottages. I was lucky and got the last cottage, I had my own little house and a nice bathroom. No comfort with beds, tough. Just a tiny mat from the wood underneath made it almost impossible to sleep.

Schedule in Wat Tam Wua monastery


We dressed our white clothes and attended evening chanting of unknown words with no melody and 40 min of meditation. Morning and afternoon meditation consisted of 40 min of walking meditation, 40 min of sitting meditation and 40 min of lying meditation. For me, the lying meditation was the hardest. It was just too comfortable and my thoughts wandered, mostly to recent conversations. Diving, food, fruit 🙂

White clothes.

No dinner in Wat Tam Wua

Food was the main problem for me. Not the hunger, but delicious food I wanted to eat, fruit salads, iced green tea and other delicacies I thought I was missing. Our meals consisted of rice and cooked cabbage with spices for breakfast, lunch was more generous, we even got fruit! Before each meal, we had food offering for the monks. In the morning you would give each monk a spoon of rice in his bowl and in the evening women gave food to the monks and men took the bowls away. A nice gesture based on monks having no personal money and how community takes care of them.

Offering the food to monks.

Our thoughts on meditation in Wat Tam Wua forest monastery

In the end, you have to give up cravings of all kinds to meditate properly, they say. Lots of people are afraid of the word meditation and I get it – it has a kind of hippie sound to it, like only certain types of people can do it. Of course anyone can do it, it just takes a lot of dedication and that is hard. To take the time and concentrate on breathing and clearing the mind every day. It’s free and you don’t need additional gear. I even read a scientific article how they incorporated meditation in hospitals and patients recovered much quicker with less relapses than patients without meditation. The cheapest medicine that everybody avoids 🙂

I admit, it’s not easy. But like someone said, if you train the body, you have to let it rest and relax the muscles. If your mind works non stop and it’s filled with thoughts all the time, you also have to rest the mind.

Meditation is a part of Buddhism. It’s the friendliest religion we’ve encountered. Islam is very strict and Hinduism is very hectic with lots of gods and even more reincarnations. Buddhism is more simple and straightforward with Buddha as the main figure but lots of work is on a person itself. Main abbot was radiating good energy, always greeting folks, asking how we were. When he gave speeches he was giggling. So cute 🙂

We will continue our path of learning meditation and try to practice regularly. I must say, this was a great experience and we will visit this monastery for sure.

We had some volunteering work to do like cleaning your hut and brushing the leaves, cutting fruit for the fish, helping with the dishes.

Silent and happy.
Vipassana is an option here, that actually means if you have a badge, you can be silent trough the day. You can try one day or more, as much as you want. Mic was silent on the last day and it he made it ok, it was hard for me as I wanted to share all the stupid things with him. He noticed that he really wanted to listen to what other people want to say (which is rare in everyday conversations).

In the end we were very happy with the experience and we did learn a lot, we even noticed a progress


5 Comments on “Forest monastery Wat Tam Wua. North Thailand.

  1. Wow, top! Če bi šla še enkrat na Tajsko, bi se definitivno ustavila tudi tu! Okolje izgleda res čudovito. Koliko vas je bilo v času, ko sta bila tam?

    • Kar veliko, bi rekla da 30. Ampak potem mas pa obdobja, ko so trije 🙂 Manj jih je, lazje si tiho cez dan. Vec ljudi, vec skusnjav za pogovor 🙂 res je lepo in poceni.

  2. hi! Nice article, I plan to go there next week, do I have to contact them in advance or can I just turn up? And is 10 day retreats the maximum available are 21 day retreats offered? Also is total silence required ?

    • Hey Harry! You don’t need to contact them but if you plan to stay a longer time they may arrange a hut just for you (instead of dorms). Silence is not required. You can do it just for one day or alternate. You should try it! You can always remove the badge if it doesn’t feel right. Good luck!

      • Haha Ya I want to do the silence thing, I think it’s benificial.
        Thanks for the info, I fly from taiwan to thailand tomorrow to BKK, guess I’ll get the bus to north Thailand and make my way there.

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