It’s no secret that Chiang Mai is filled with gorgeous temples, boasting over 300 Buddhist temples around the small city. It is near impossible to go on a walk and not see any! The temples, referred to as Wats throughout the country, typically have entrance fees for foreign visitors and a strict dress code. Read about my tips for temple attire in my blog here.
As I mentioned in my Bangkok Temples post, if you’re like me and go to see as many as possible, you may experience something called “Wat Burnout”, where you have visited so many temples you get burned out from it (trust me it’s a real thing!). And so, I’ve put together a list of must-see temples in Chiang Mai for you to explore!
1. Wat Phra Singh
Wat Phra Singh, located to the west of the Old City centre, is the most popular temple in the city by the number of visitors. Here lies a famous Buddha image, known as Phra Singh (Lion Buddha). The temple boasts wing-shaped roofs with ornate designs, and a large golden Chedi (pagoda). Within the complex, there is a stunning temple library, built in the 15th century. The designs of all of the buildings so breathtaking, its no wonder it is always crowded with people!
2. Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang, located in the core of the Old City centre, highlights a giant Lanna-style Chedi, built in the 1400s. The Chedi was said to be the tallest structure in Chiang Mai until an earthquake damaged the Chedi in the 1500s, knocking it down to almost half of it’s size. The temple grounds have an incredible ancient feel to the atmosphere, and will certainly have you imagining what life was like when this temple was first constructed!
3. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, located at the top of the Doi Suthep mountain, is definitely worth a trip out of the main city to visit. It is one of Thailand’s most sacred temples and is surrounded by a beautiful National Park – Doi Suthep-Pui. From the parking lot, expect to climb 309 steps to reach the temple complex (or opt to take a tram!), lined by tall trees. Spend some time wandering around the complex, admiring the statues and the legendary white elephant, and relax in the calming nature of the National Park!
4. Wat Chiang Man
Wat Chiang Man, located in the North of the Old City centre, is the oldest temple in Chiang Mai (built in 1296) and was established by the city’s founder. It features the incredible Elephant Chedi, which is the oldest structure in the complex. The intricate design of the Chedi is mesmerizing, with elephant statues surrounding the base of the structure. This temple is not as busy as the ones in the historic city centre, so opt to relax around the area for a bit!
5. Wat Buppharam
Wat Buppharam, located near the historic Old City centre, boasts a beautiful Viharn surrounded by fascinating statues of reptiles and various animals. The white structure with intricate red and gold designs is certainly jaw-dropping, and very photogenic. This temple is located within walking distance of the Chiang Mai Night Market, allowing you to conveniently stop by before an evening of snacking and shopping.
6. Wat Lok Molee
Wat Lok Molee, located just North of the Old City moat, boasts a beautiful garden, 14th century Chedi, and large prayer hall. This temple isn’t as visited as other temples near the city centre, so you may find yourself alone or with a few locals around while enjoying the complex. At the entrance to the complex, there are large elephant statues, leading you to the white dragons that guard the entrance to the prayer hall. There is a small coffee shop on the grounds, so you can relax and enjoy the serenity of the grounds!
Check out my other Thailand posts!
- 10 Must-See Temples in Bangkok
- Tips for Your First Trip to Thailand
- Top Vegetarian Friendly Spots in Chiang Mai
Which temples would you recommend seeing in Chiang Mai? Let me know in the comments!