Wats Happening in Chiang Mai
Most people get to Thailand and head straight for the beaches. But there is so much more to see and do, especially in the north where the weather is cooler, it’s even more laid back and the history overflows. Chiang Mai is a great place to start and one of her best offerings are her awesome temples, known as “Wats.”
Wat Jet Yod
Thai King Tilokarat, currently entombed in Wat Jet Yod, built this temple complex in 1477 to host the Eighth World Buddhist Council. The complex, which is based on an Indian design, is unlike any other in Chiang Mai.
The grounds of the temple are tranquil and spacious, shaded by many old trees in case you need to get out from under the hot Thai sun overhead.
The most intriguing feature of the temple is the series of 70 beautiful stucco celestial beings that decorate the walls. Though they have been damaged over the centuries, their intricate clothes and jewellery, as well as their smiling faces are an excellent example of Lanna art.
The temple is conveniently located close to the city center.
Wat Chedi Luang
An enormous temple built at the end of the 14th century by King Saeng Muang Ma as a final resting place for the ashes of his father, Wat Chedi Luang was enlarged the following century when the height of the main chedi reached 90 meters. It was severely damaged in the great earthquake of 1545, and has only recently been restored.
Located in the city center, the pleasant and peaceful grounds are home to several other buildings including the City Pillar (Inthakhin), a Buddhist university and a variety of other Buddha statues. An enormous yang tree has also taken root there. Wat Chedi Luang is also home to many of the city’s most important religious ceremonies. Feel free to wander the grounds and explore the temple on your own, but for those interested in learning more about the history and cultural significance, it is recommended to join a temple tour.
Wat Phra Singh
Famous for its excellent examples of Lanna art, this temple is situated in the heart of the city. It was founded in the 14th century, but most of the structures date from the 19th century, as well as several that were restored over the past 10 years.
There are some beautiful murals depicting scenes from everyday life in Lanna from a century ago. There are also several exquisite wood carvings on other buildings and the scripture repository, where you can see holy texts made of bai lan or sa paper, which have been carefully preserved. The senior abbot of the Buddhist order in Chiang Mai resides at Wat Phra Singh.
Wat Phra Singh is conveniently located in close walking distance to several guesthouses and hotels.