City of Temples

or “Weangping”, is the old name of Chiangmai, as King Mengrai decreed. It is also referred to as “the City of Temples”. Through the architecture of these more than 300 Lankan style pagodas, one sees the influence of Lanna Thai, Burmese, Sri Lankan and Mon cultures, underlining the city’s heritage that date back thousands of years.
Among them are the following:

Wat Chiangman is the oldest temple in Chiangmai. Built in 1296 on what is now Ratchpakinai Road. It used to be the residence of King Mengrai, the founder of the city, and stands out for a pagoda that is supported by rows of elephant buttresses. Visitors flock here to see an ancient Buddha image of Phra Kaeo Khao.

Greeting visitors from under the shade of several towering oak trees, Wat Chiang Man- Chiangmai’s oldest temple-is honored by two ancient and much venerated Buddha statues believed to have rain-invoking powers: Phra Sae Tang Tamani and Phra Sila

Phra Sae Tnag Tamani, the crystal Buddha, reminds the Chiangmaiese of their glorious history. Small in stature, but ever so tall on significance, the image was brought by King Mengrai to Chaingmai from neighboring Lampoon around 1298 Ad.

Even in that year, it had reportedly already adorned a previous palace for 600 years, giving the treasure a combined age that equals any other in the kingdom. The other sacred piece, carved in bas-relief, is believed to have come from India around the 8th century.

Both statues are believed to possess remarkable powers. As long time resident monk, Phra Akuporn, said: “Combining the internal spiritual powers of both images, we know that rain from the heavens can be brought to earth, just by believing.” Indeed, when one sees the two images, he or she can sense a certain aura around them.

The wat itself is a sight to behold. Behind the main chapel, the glittering stupa rises above rows of fine elephant buttresses. These intricately detailed carvings depict a time when beasts and nature were in total harmony with man.Other buildings dot the enclosure, adding color and life to the architecture. Casually strolling around you can’t help but notice the teams of temple boys that carefully manicure the gardens and trim the thickly vegetated perimeter.

The beautiful temple is just inside the city’s old walled area, near the Changpuak gate. It remains open for most of the day and admission is free.

The temple dates back to 1345, and is one of the centers of festivities during Songkran. In the compound on Sam lan Road is a chapel called Lai Kham, where ancient woodcarvings, murals, bas relief works and a sacred Buddha image of Phrasingha can be seen.


Wat Suan Dok was built in 1371 to house images of Lord Buddha discovered in Sukhothai in 1368. Several of the white stupas contain the ashes of Lanna dynasty kings and members of Chiangmai’s royal family. This temple on Suthep Road is often visited by photographers.

Wat Suan Dok
Wat Suan Dok

Wat Doi Suthep, which dates back to 1383, is the most important and visible landmark in Chiangmai. It offers a panoramic view of the city as one reaches the last of the 290 steps. Constructed during the Lanna Thai dynasty, it is considered the symbol of Chiangmai.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

This the site of a huge pagoda that was originally 280 feet high. Built in 1401, it was partially destroyed during an earthquake in 1545, The temple once housed the revered Emerald Buddha images now displayed in Bangkok’s Wat Pra Kaeo. It is located on Phraphokklao Road.

On the superhighway north of Doi Suthep-Nimmanhemin Road is a temple that was built in 1447 by King Tilokraj. Its seven-spire square chedi was inspired by the architecture of Buddhagaya, northern India, site of the Buddha’s enlightenment more than 2,500 years ago. The bigger pagoda contains his ashes.

Wat Ku Tao
Wat Ku Tao or the so-called, Veru-wanaram Wihan, which means the Cathedral which situated in the bamboo forest. In the old days, the temple is located among the bamboo forest, which no longer existed at present. The interesting thing in the temple is its Pagoda of a unique shape. It features a shape of five up-side-down alms-bowls, on top of one another in a consecutive manner. Due to the shape which looks like a piled-up-watermelons, it was called “Ku Tao Temple” (“Ku” means temple, “Tao” means watermelon).

Wat Phan Tao
The Temple is next to Wat Chedi Luang. According to the ancient record, it shares the contemporary history with Wat Chedi Luang. The Temple features the most splendid teak wood cathedral in Chiang Mai. The entire Temple was made of wood and was built in a traditional style. In front of the Cathedral is a big wooden door. Above the door is a wood, carved in a shape of peacock, which is the symbol of the master of the northern region.

Wat Phuak Hongs
This is a small temple. The outstanding of the temple is Chedi Sri Phuak Hongs, a stupa which features an ancient architectural style since B.E. 21. It is a round-shaped stupa, made of bricks and cement. The first floor of the stupa’s base has a square shape while the next three floors above are in round-shapes. Above these bases for another 7 floors is a shelter which houses an Buddha Image. There are only 3 stupas of these style which are found in Chiang Mai. The main hall of the cathedral is in Lanna’s style, which is constructed after B.E. 24.

Wat Saen Fang
It used to be called “Wat Sean Fung”. It was told that the Temple was built during the reign of Phaya Saen Phu, a King of Mang Rai Dynasty.
The architectural design in the temple features the combination of Burmese and Lanna style. The Principle Pagoda has the same bell shape as the Burma’s Shawedagong, with the umbrella-shape roof. There is also an abbot’s abode or Luang Yon Kan Phichit’s 100 year old abode, which is beautifully decorate with perforated wood.

Wat Chedi Liam
Also called Chedi Ku Kam. The Temple was built during the reign of Phaya Mang Rai, at the time he established Wiang Kum Kam in 1288. The attraction is the square-shaped Stupa, which housed the Buddha Image on all four directions. Each direction houses 15 Buddha statues, makes up 60 statues altogether. There are also four Buddha Statues, each representing the symbol of each direction.

Wat Buppa Ram
Wat Buppa Ram, or Wat Meng, is constructed during the reign of Phra Muang Kaew, a King of Mang Rai Dynasty.
This Temple is regarded as the Temple of Chiang Mai. Its architectural design was influence by a combination of Burmese and Lanna style, featuring a Burmese’s Stupa and two Cathedrals. The big one is about 200 years old, representing traditional Lanna style. However, the decorative design on the gable is in Burmese style. The small one is made of wood in a traditional Lanna style, and is more than 300 years old. It houses Phra Buddha Chai Lappasirtichoke which is the Principle Buddha Image of the Temple.

Wat U-mong
It is also called Wat Welu Kattharam. It was built during the reign of Phaya Mang Rai. Later, Phaya Kue Na, the 9th King of the Mang Rai Dynasty, restored the temple and had the tunnel built. The tunnel was used as a place for meditation by Phra Maha Tera Chan (The monk who is an expertise in herbal). Until the 2nd World War, that Mr. Chuen Siroros dicovered the important remains of the Temple, which is the body of the Stupa in a bell shape, with three round layers on top of another, similarly to the lotus leaves. On top of the Stupa is a projecting leaves. The Temple was assumed to built in B.E. 20 and is regarded as an ancient remains of Lanna. The Temple, later, has been restored to a Buddhist Garden as it is surrounded with trees and is suitable for doing meditation.

There is herbal garden within the Temple’s campus for studying, and also a spiritual house of entertainment, a bell-shaped Stupa similarly to a lotus leaves. It is assumed to be the ancient remains of Lanna.