Wat Chiang Man

Wat Chiang Man

Wat Phra Singh Library

Wat Phra Singh Library

Wat Suan Dok

Wat Suan Dok

Wat U-Mong Tunnels

Wat U-Mong Tunnels

Wat Buparam

Wat Buparam

Wat Mahawan

Wat Mahawan

Chiang Mai is overflowing with ancient Buddhist Temples (Wats) dating back to when the city was originally founded in 1296. The intricate carving and stunning hand painted murals inside them are absolutely treasures.

Since Chiang Mai was founded over 700 years ago successive Kings left their own mark on the city by building everlasting Temples. That so many Temples have survived is testament to both the skills of the original builders and the dedication of the many artisans that followed to maintain them for future generations. The Temples today still form an important part in the lives of the Thai people and are in use daily.

There are over 200 Chiang Mai Temples in and around Chiang Mai to see and experience. The following is only an overview of the most well known Temples, all of which are easily accessible.

Wat Chiang Man situated in the north-east corner of the old walled city was the first Temple in Chiang Mai, built by King Mengrai in 1296 as part of the original city construction. Housed within are two rare Buddha statues, the Crystal Buddha and the Marble Buddha. At the rear of the main Temple stands an ancient Chedi decorated with elephants.

Wat Phra Singh located in the western side of the old walled city is a classic example of Northern Thai architecture built in 1345. It houses the Phra Singh Buddha, a highly revered statue. Housed within the Temple complex is a learning centre for young boys and men studying to become Buddhist monks. It is one of the most important Temples in the city.

Wat Suan Dok located 1km west of the old walled city was built in 1371. The grounds were initially a royal flower garden which were offered by King Keuna to a very revered monk from Sukhothai. A holy Buddhist relic that was transported to the new Temple of Wat Suan Dok inexplicably split in two. One part of the relic remained at Suan Dok and the other was the relic that caused Wat Phra That Doi Suthep to come into being. Located at Wat Suan Dok you will find a huge 500 year old Bronze Buddha, one of the largest in Thailand. In the grounds are a large number of white chedis some of which house the ashes of members of the former royal family of Chiang Mai. The Temple is currently the site of a Buddhist University.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is the most famous Temple in the area, standing near the top of Mount Suthep to the north-west of the city. This Temple was built around 1383. King Keuna of Chiang Mai selected a white elephant to carry a holy relic of the Lord Buddha to what would be its resting place. The elephant wandered up Mount Suthep until it came to a place where it finally laid down. A Temple was built on the spot to house the holy relic, and both remain there to this day. Housed there as well is a stunning larger than life replica of the famous Emerald Buddha, the original of which is now kept in Bangkok.

Wat U-Mong is located some 2km to the west of the old city on Suthep Road in the forested foothills of Mount Suthep. It is one of the  most unusual of all the Temples in that it is mostly underground beneath a large hill with a flattened top. The under-hill complex contains many brick lined tunnels which are easily navigated. Built in the 14th century for a revered monk it was later abandoned for six centuries. A large chedi sits on the flat hilltop and nearby are the quarters of the monks who live there. If you look at the many trees throughout the complex you will see them decorated with hundreds of short Buddhist proverbs in both English and Thai.

Wat Chedi Luang was built around 1400 and with several later additions stood some 90 meters tall. It was reduced to around 60 meters in height when the upper section fell as a result of an earthquake in the 16th century. The Emerald Buddha was once housed here but it was removed after the earthquake for safety reasons. A replica of the Emerald Buddha made of black jade has recently been placed where the original once stood. At only a few of the many Temples you visit you may find an amazing life like statue of a venerated monk who had been associated with that particular Temple. A fine example of this is to be found in the Library Temple behind the main Chedi at Wat Chedi Luang.

Wat Jet Yot is located in the north-west outskirts of the city on the Super Highway. The Temple was built in 1455 and was the host place for the Eighth World Buddhist Council in 1977.

Wat Bupparam is located some 500 meters east of Tha Phae Gate. It was built around 15th century, and houses beautiful statues and ornamentation including three major Buddha images, one in painted wood, one covered in gold leaf, and one of a green gemstone. The gardens surrounding the main building are crowded with flowers and statues, including some recently added statues of a few famous Disney characters.

(Tip - You are allowed to enter the Temples but you must remove your shoes before you go inside.)

Temples (Wats) - Chiang Mai

Doi Suthep Spire

Doi Suthep Spire

Wat Chedi Luang Buddha

Wat Chedi Luang Buddha

Wat Chedi Luang Statue

Wat Chedi Luang Statue

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