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Buddha Head in a tree| © Tommy Tang/WikiCommons
Buddha Head in a tree| © Tommy Tang/WikiCommons

8 Holy Temples You Should Visit In Chiang Mai, Thailand

Picture of Naintara Gurung
Updated: 9 February 2017
Thailand, with its rich culture, is well-renowned for preserving a sacred lineage of holy shrines. The city of Chiang Mai reflects Thailand’s character in all its architectural wonders, and you’ll come across ethnic structures known as ‘Wats’ while exploring the city’s 200 local temples. The Culture Trip brings you the best temples to visit in Chiang Mai.

 The city of Chiang Mai reflects Thailand’s character in all its architectural wonders © Andrea Schaffer / Flickr

The city of Chiang Mai reflects Thailand’s character in all its architectural wonders © Andrea Schaffer / Flickr


Wat Jet Yot

Wat Jet Yot translates as ‘Temple of the Seven Spires’. As you enter the temple’s premises you’ll be welcomed by the famous centerpiece of the temple – the seven spired stupa nestled inside its ancient walls. This temple, established in 1455 by King Tilokkarat, was a primary location of the Theravada Buddhist reunion that was held back in 1477. The seven spires in the temple represent the time period (seven weeks) that Lord Buddha spent at Bodhgaya, in India, while he was still in search of enlightenment. The temple exhibits a unique architectural style that has been inspired by Indian masonry. The walls, which are embedded with seventy celestial images, are best viewed at sunset. 

Mon-Sun (8 am to 5 pm), 69, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 31000, Thailand+66-5322 4802

Young monk, Chiang Mai © Eddy Milfort / Flickr

Young monk, Chiang Mai © Eddy Milfort / Flickr

 

Wat Chiang Mai

With its partially restored ruins and a magnificent compound that boasts foundations from the Lanna era, Wat Chiang Mai is a must-visit. Built back in 1297 CE, this was the first temple to be built in Chiang Mai under King Mantra, the driving force behind the development of the new city. Founded 700 years ago, the architecture of Wat Chiang Mai is filled with history, housing a spectacular memento, the Crystal Buddha, a prestigious possession for the people of Thailand. The shrine is located in the north-east corner of the old walled city, showcasing a magnificent parade of stone elephants supporting the chedi of Wat Chiang Mai.

Mon-Sun (6 am to 5 pm), Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand017-4588 5862

Founded 700 years ago, the architecture of Wat Chiang Mai is filled with history © Aleksandr Zykov / Flickr

Founded 700 years ago, the architecture of Wat Chiang Mai is filled with history © Aleksandr Zykov / Flickr


Wat Chedi Luang

Built 600 years ago, Wat Chedi Luang is the largest structure in Chiang Mai, standing at a towering height of 280 feet. Initially constructed by King Saen Muang Ma, it housed the famous Emerald Buddha until 1475 when it was taken to Bangkok. A replica of the same was gifted to Wat Chedi Luang by the Thai King in 1995 to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the ancient brick pagoda that now lies in ruins. The temple contains a standing Buddha statue called Phra Chao Attarot that draws a large crowd of curious travelers eager to unravel the temple’s mysteries. Right next to the entrance you’ll find the Dipterocarp tree and the city pillar, both believed to be sacred protectors of the city. 

Mon-Sun (6 am to 8 pm), 103 Road King Prajadhipok Phra Singh, Muang District, Chiang Mai, 50200, Thailand, +66-5327 6140

 

Built 600 years ago, Wat Chedi Luang is the largest structure in Chiang Mai, standing at a towering height of 280 feet © Madeleine Deaton / Flickr

Built 600 years ago, Wat Chedi Luang is the largest structure in Chiang Mai, standing at a towering height of 280 feet © Madeleine Deaton / Flickr

 

Wat Phra Singh

Wat Phra Singh is situated on the western end of the old city, nestled inside a moat that was originally established in the year 1345. The temple was built to house the remains of the late King Kham Fu by his son King Phayu, the fifth king of the Mangrai dynasty. The statue of Phra Buddha Singh was brought to the temple in 1367, which led to the temple being renamed. The main attraction of Wat Phra Singh is Wihan Lai Kham, a complex which reiterates the history of Songthong and Suwanna Hongse. As for its grand architecture, visitors will be amazed by the majestic Lions that guard the main entrance of the temple overlooking the Ping River.

Mon-Sun (5 am to 8:30 pm), address and telephone number: Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai, Thailand, +66-5327 7273

 

The temple was built to house the remains of the late King Kham Fu by his son King Phayu © Stefan Fussan / Flickr

The temple was built to house the remains of the late King Kham Fu by his son King Phayu © Stefan Fussan / Flickr

 

Wat Umong              

Wat UMong was built in 1297 AD by King Manglai. The temple showcases an intricate form of architecture with large stupa and mazes like tunnels, inlaid with 13th-century wall paintings. Stretching over an expanse of 15 acres, the natural environment of the outdoor zoo is a beautiful place to visit, where you can admire a replica of the Ashoka Pillar, a relic of the Lanna Dynasty. This temple is set apart from the rest since it is nestled inside a large hill, called the Suthep Mountain. The breathtaking setting with its wild expanse is home to many resident monks who love basking in the afternoon sunshine while they feed the wild deer, fish and turtles. Hosting a gallery of ancient Buddhist sculptures like the fasting Bodhisatva, Wat Umong also features a vivid collection of historic art and scriptures. 

Mon-Sun (5 am to 8 pm), Tambon Suthep, Amper Muang, Chiang Mai 55000, Thailand+66-5327 7248

 

Stretching over an expanse of 15 acres, the natural environment of the outdoor zoo is a beautiful place to visit © Bill Stilwell / Flickr

Stretching over an expanse of 15 acres, the natural environment of the outdoor zoo is a beautiful place to visit © Bill Stilwell / Flickr

 

Wat Phra That Si Chom Thong Worawihan

A highly revered temple in Chiang Mai, the Wat Phra That Si Chom Thong Worawihan contains a Buddhist relic enshrined within a mondop-like structure. The temple maintains two viharns, the largest of which is a two-story building that showcases a cruciform flooring and holds the mondop on its 15th-century foundation. The golden bargeboards, designed in the form of Naga snakes, align the perimeters of the Lanna-style roof. One of the most spectacular exhibits of the temple is the large, ornate Buddha Throne or Ku that is decorated with mythological creatures. In the backdrop of the Ku, you’ll come across gilded wood carvings, bronze Buddha images and white Singha – lion shaped statues guarding the entrance.

Mon-Sun (6 am to 8 pm), Khuang Pao, Chom Thong, Chiang Mai 50160 Thailand, +66-5334 2184

One of the most spectacular exhibits of the temple is the large, ornate Buddha Throne © Petr & Bara Ruzicka / Flickr

One of the most spectacular exhibits of the temple is the large, ornate Buddha Throne © Petr & Bara Ruzicka / Flickr


Wat Pan Tao

The name Wat Pan Tao means ‘to increase a thousand times’. In this temple you’ll find native monks, clad in their saffron-colored robes, who chant harmoniously throughout the evening. Built in the 14th century, the temple was one of the four monastic shrines that served as a royal residence. Nestled under the shadow of the monumental Wat Chedi Luang, this teak wood marvel features an enormous prayer hall. The most sublime sight at the temple is the wooden viharn, a chapel that features a large gilded carving of a peacock that was believed to have been the royal symbol of the Kings in Chiang Mai.

Mon-Sun (6 am to 6 pm), Phra Pok Klao Road, Amphoe Mueang, Chiang Mai, Thailand, +66-2250 5500

 

The name Wat Pan Tao means ‘to increase a thousand times’ © Heiko S / Flickr

The name ‘Wat Pan Tao’ means ‘to increase a thousand times’ © Heiko S / Flickr


Wat Bupparam

Located just outside the old walled city, Wat Bupparam is a massive structure that houses the largest teak Buddha image in Thailand. Built during the reign of King Muang Kaeo in 1497, the temple showcases a Dhamma hall, an ubosot and two viharns. The oldest structure is the ancient chedi that was constructed more than four centuries ago. Four Burmese styled Lions or Singhas guard the golden spired pagoda, while the base is designed with a Buddha image. The temple, which underwent renovation in 1819, contains a magnificent collection of cultural murals depicting scenes from the Jakarta tales and ethnic Buddhist scriptures. This temple has a rich history, evident from its Burmese inspired architecture.

 Mon-Sun (5 am to 7 pm), Tha Phae Rd, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai, Thailand+66-2250 5500

 

Wat Bupparam is a massive structure that houses the largest teak Buddha image in Thailand © Andrea Schaffer / Flickr

Wat Bupparam is a massive structure that houses the largest teak Buddha image in Thailand © Andrea Schaffer / Flickr