Chiang Mai is a great place to dig a little deeper and connect with the local culture. If you are on a spiritual journey or just curious, a Monk Chat is the perfect way to spend a few hours in Thailand’s spiritual capital of the north.
Monk Chats are quite literally an opportunity to sit down and have a fun and informal chat to local Buddhist monks. Usually, Monk Chats are with novice or younger monks as it is a great way for them to practice their English language skills and meet people from all around the world. This fun cultural exchange is the perfect way to learn more about Thai culture, Buddhism and well anything else you might chat about. You’ll be surprised by what you might learn and the different life ambitions of the monks. The monks can be shy so might come prepared with questions they want to ask you. Please be sure to help facilitate the discussion and tell them a little bit about yourself too. If you are in a hurry you can always stop by briefly and do basic introductions, they’ll thank you for the practice. Anyone is welcome to join a Monk Chat, the more the merrier!
There are several places around Chiang Mai offering Monk Chats, one of the most popular locations in the city is at Wat Chedi Luang. Here daily between 9 am and 6 pm you can see monks waiting at the outdoor tables on the northside of the temple grounds, introduce yourself and start chatting, it’s that simple. If you are planning to head up to Wat Doi Suthep, it might be a good idea to time it with their Monk Chats which are daily between 1 pm and 3 pm. The monks here run the International Buddhism Center which also offers meditation retreats for those who want to continue to find their spiritual selves after the Monk Chat is over. Wat Suan Dok also offers Monk Chats on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5 pm till 7 pm and Wat Umong and the MCU Buddhist University at Chiang Mai University both offer Monk Chats on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 5.30 pm till 7.30 pm. Every Monk Chat is a little different, some are busier than others. You can always give a few places a try to maximize your Monk Chat experience.
Usually, Monk Chats are free but it is recommended that you donate to the temple. Please remember appropriate temple etiquette, and ladies, always remember you should not touch or be alone with a monk at any time.