The Temples Of Old City Chiang Mai
Getting There: centrally located in Chiang Mai it’s impossible to miss the old city.
Costs: most of the temples are completely free to walk into, the main attractions have an entrance fee: Wat Chedi Luang: ฿40, Wat Phra Singh: ฿20.
Additional Information: make sure to be dressed appropriately with your shoulders and knees covered and always take your shoes off before entering a temple.
The Old City of Chiang Mai is beautiful. There are more temples within this city than the rest of Thailand combined. I’d recommend that you get lost for a day exploring the various different temples and ruins within the Old City’s walls, a lot of the smaller temples are completely free, the most expensive temple is ฿40, so it’s a cheap day out exploring.
My favorite temple and probably the most famous is Wat Chedi Luang. This temple is a mix of modern temples and ancient monuments. When you first enter you’ll be struck by a monumental Viharn (worship hall), built in 1928 it contains a large standing Buddha inside. This is impressive but head around the back of the building and you’ll find the ruins of an ancient Chedi, the real star of the show.
Standing 60 meters in height and over 44 meters wide, the old Chedi of Wat Chedi Leung is absolutely stunning. Construction started in 1391 and took almost 80 years to finish, reaching a height of 85 meters when it was completed. Unfortunately in the 16th Century an earthquake destroyed much of the building until it was partially restored in the 1990’s to its present state. There is a staircase on each of the four sides with a carving of Naga flanking each side, these lead up to four crevices which each house a large statue of Buddha.
The more you look around the Chedi the more you realize how monumental the task was to build it. The symmetry of the four sides is nearly perfect and surrounding the top level are statues of elephants made of stone. It’ll take about an hour to walk around.
Another great temple is Wat Phra Singh also known as the ‘Temple of the Lion Buddha’ the biggest and most important temple in Chiang Mai. It is a favorite in Chiang Mai for all of its features: attractive grounds, massive temple buildings, ice cream in the carpark, what more could you want from a temple? The complex houses three Viharns, a library, a Chedi and numerous smaller shrines and prayer halls. Dating from the 14th Century the temple is said to house the ashes of King Pha Vu’s father and is still an active temple site. The buildings are incredibly ornate and you can easily spend an hour or two wandering around the grounds and watching the local Thai’s coming to pay their respect to Buddha. There is something serene about this temple, and while it’s right in the center of Chiang Mai there is a relaxed, tranquil atmosphere to the temple.
There are at least another twenty temples to check out in the Old city of Chiang Mai, a couple of others I’d recommend are Wat Pan Tao, the wooden temple and Wat Lok Molee with it’s impressive prayer hall. You could easily spend two days walking around the Old City just looking at temples, but if your disposition to temples is low just stick with the main two as they’re the best!