A lot of people come to Chiang Mai to enjoy a homestay with a hill tribe or perhaps experience the joys of the wilderness of northern Thailand. Yet there are plenty of wats, too (wat is the Thai word for temple). In fact, wherever you look you will see wats, wats, and more wats! So what is Chiang Mai’s best wat? Here are a few of the very best that you should add to your travel itinerary!
Wat Phra Singh is a Buddhist temple complex located in the old part of the city, pretty close to the Ping River. The entrance to the temple is guarded by lions (singhs). The temple, built in the year 1367, is home to a giant Buddha statue that is removed from its home and paraded down the streets of Chiang Mai during the Thai Songkran festivities each year.
Wat Lok Molee is one of the most picturesque temples in all of Thailand, decorated supremely with stone nagas and a wooden façade. It is not known when this temple was built but at some stage of the 13th century, Buddhist monks from Burma were invited over by the ruling King to preach Theravada Buddhism in this temple complex.
Wat Umong is simply unmissable and is probably the best attraction in Chiang Mai overall. It is integrated among the mountains of Doi Suthep and has a history dating back over 700 years. Although famous for its ancient subterranean tunnels, which were supposedly built by the King to keep a talented yet mentally unstable monk from wandering off, Wat Umong also has a famous forest in its grounds where trees are said to talk to people in many different languages.
Wat Chedi Luang was a grand Buddhist temple complex that was originally left unfinished after its conception in the 14th century. Eventually, in the 20th century, the temple was complete by Japanese investors amidst considerable controversy. There is a reclining Buddha statue inside the temple.
This article is intended as a companion piece to my other article entitled What wat? A guide to Bangkok’s temples.