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Chiang Mai Thailand - All About Chiangmai Thailand


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To date, some 300 temples have been constructed in Chiangmai and its outskirts. These temple display a mixture of architectural styles that reflect the varied heritage of Northern Thailand. A blend of Cambodian, Burmese and Indian Culture Ancient temples can be seen almost anywhere as well as palaces. Intricate woodcarvings and protective Naga serpent staircases add a flamboyance that reflects an awesome reverence for the Buddhist Religion. Glided umbrellas, guardian figures from the tale of Ramayana and stupas trimmed with gold filigree combine to heighten the overall effect. The most notable temples include:

  • Wat Chedi Laem built by King Mengrai in the 13th century;
  • Wat Chedi Luang built in 1401,
  • Wat Chiang Man, Chiangmai's oldest ;
  • Wat Suan Dok, built in 1383;
  • Wat Pra Singh, probably the most beautiful in Chiangmai and
  • Wat Doi Suthep, built on the side of Doi (Mount) Suthep and which offers a panoramic view of the city.


History accurately recaps the founding of Chiang Mai the "New City", as having taken place at 4 a.m. on the 14th of April 1296. King Mengrai, perhaps the best known and most influential of all the lines of northern monarchs, was the founder of what has now grown to be modern Thailand's second city. King Mengrai was very much the driving force behind the early development of the north.

Built so far to the west, the walled city, with its encir­cling moat, was vulnerable to Burmese incursions, and the city changed hands many times over the centuries. At the height of Burma's influence and power in the 18th Century, Chiang Mai and much of the land of Lanna was held by the invaders for many years. It was only by allying itself with other Thai states to the south that Lanna was eventually able to rid itself of the yoke of Burmese occupation. This alliance ultimately led to the unification of northern Thailand with the Thai heartland of the central plains, under political and sovereign control of the gov­ernment in the new capital of Bangkok, which had been estab­lished following the sack of Ayuthaya.

Chiang Mai is one of the oldest continuously inhab­ited communities in all of Thailand, and that fascinating gems and remnants of over 700 years of history hide beneath the cloak of modernity, just waiting to be discovered.

Chiang Mai is approximately 700 kilometers north of Bangkok and is located in the fertile Chiang Mai valley about 310 meters (1,027 feet) above sea level. The province is large, measuring 130 kilometers from east to west and 320 kilometers from north to south, with a total area of 10,107 square kilome­ters. There are mountains all around the valley rising to heights of more than 2,500 meters. The four highest mountains are in the north and south of the province; Doi Inthanon at 2,565 meters; Doi Horn Pok at 2,289 meters; Doi Chiang Dao at 2,195 meters; and Doi Suthep at 1,678 meters. 

Because Chiang Mai is at a higher elevation than some of the other Thai cities, it tends to have a cooler and drier cli­mate. There are three main seasons: Cool Season (late October - middle February) Summer Season (late February - May), and Rainy Season (June - October) with average temperatures of 21 "C, 30"C and 25 "C respectively. 

Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai display a mixture of architectural styles that reflect the varied heritage of North­ern Thailand. Elements from Lanna Thai, Burmese, Sri Lankan and Mon temples have all been used in one form or another. Intricate woodcarvings and protective Naga serpent staircases add a flamboyance that reflects an awesome reverence for the Buddhist religion. Gilded umbrellas, guardian figures from the tales of the Ramayana and stupas trimmed with gold filigree combine to heighten the overall effect. 

To date, some 300 temples have been constructed in Chiang Mai and its outskirts. Visitors should take the time to visit the most revered temples in the city, built during the noble Lanna Thai dynasty. 

Wat Ku (Goo) Come or Wat Chedi (Jedee) Liam

was built by King Mengrai at the site of Wiang Kum Karri (Goom Gaam), located just outside the city of Chiang Mai on the road to Lamphun (Lumpoon). To get there, turn right at the starting point for the number two yellow local bus 200 meters after the Mae Ping Po­lice Station on Lamphun (Lumpoon) Road. King Mengraj conquered Lam­phun in 1281 and two years later he began to look for a site to establish his new capital-Chiang Mai. During his surveying years, 1286 -1295, he resided temporarily in Kum Kam. Upon the death of his beloved wife, the queen, he built this pyramidal pagoda in her memory. He donated the monument to the wat after its completion in 1288. Wiang Kum Kam, an ancient town founded by King Mengrai, is located at km 4 on Chiang Mai - Lamphun Road towards Saraphi District (Ampur Sarapee).

Chedi (Jedee) Luang

Located on Prapokklao Road is the site of a formerly massive pagoda that was unfortunately de­stroyed in the great earthquake of 1545. The temple was origi­nally constructed in 1401 by the order of King Saeng Muang Ma. In 1454, and later reign­ing King Tilo-Garaj enlarged the chedi to a height of 86 meters.

After the earthquake, the chedi lay in ruins until 1991, when it was reconstructed at a cost of several million Baht. Fin­ished in 1992, it is every bit as impressive as the original.

Wat Chedi Luang

This temple is also home to the "Pillar of the City",a totem used in ancient Thai fertility rites, be­cause the temple itself marks the exact center of Chiang Mai. The tree is inhabited by a guardian spirit known as "Prueksa Thevada", an all knowing sage. The Inthakhin Festival fertility rite lasting for 7 days takes place each year during the months of May or June. This observance ensured unity within Lanna society, gave protection from siege and warfare and made cer­tain that the rains would fall at the proper time so that farmers crops would be abundant in the fertile fields. 

Wat U-Mong (Oo-Mong)

literally meaning "temple in cave" is an ancient temple in a forest just outside Chiang Mai. King Mengrai built this temple for a highly re­spected forest monk. The monk was not able to  practice  Lord Buddha's teaching in the city, so the king built an underground temple in an isolated area for the monk's quiet meditation. 

Wat Chiang Man (Mun)

is the oldest temple in Chiang . It is located within the walled city on Rajapakinai Road. King Mengrai allegedly lived here while the new city of Chiang Mai was constructed. Enshrined in Wat Chiang Man is a tiny crystal Buddha called Phra Seh-Taang Kamanee. It is thought to have the power to bring rain. Another im­age, called Phra SilaKhao, reflects the fine workmanship of Indian craftsmen from thousands of years ago. 

Wat Jao Mengrai

was built in the city of Chiang Mai shortly after Wat Chiang Man was completed. When the big Buddha image was being carried through the city to the new temple site, the carriage broke and the image fell to the ground. Out of superstition. King Mengrai decided to build another temple on the spot. It was here that King Mengrai was struck by light­ning and died. 

Wat Phra Singh

 is located in the center of the city at the intersection of Singharaj and Rajdamnern Roads. The large chedi was built in 1345 by King Pha Yu to house the remains of his father King Kam Fu. A typical scripture repository is located at this temple also. These repositories were designed to keep and protect sacred texts written on palm leaves and the delicate saa or mulberry paper sheets used by monks and scribes to keep records and write down folklore. The high stucco-covered stone base of the re­pository protected the delicate scriptures from the rains, floods and pests. The walls of the chapel are covered with murals illustrating Lanna customs, dress, and scenes from daily life. The lovely Lai Kam chapel houses the revered Phra Singh Buddha image. Sadly, the head was stolen in 1992. 

Wat Suan Dork

on Suthep Road was built in 1383. It was constructed in the gardens of the Lanna Royal Residence. The rows of smaller white chedis contain the ashes of Chiang Mai's Royal Lanna dynasty. The site was organized by Princess Jao Dararasmi, the only northern royal consort to Rama V, King Chulalongkorn. 

Wat 3ed Yod (Yord)

is situ­ated on the super­highway off Huay Kaew Road, near the Chiang Mai National Museum. Built in 1455 by King Tilo-Garaj, its name means "Seven Spires, a description of the chedi's construction. It was copied from the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, India, where the Buddha achieved enlight­enment. The larger chedi contains the ashes of King Tilo-Garaj. 

Wat Phra That (Thart) Doi Suthep

Is set amongst the peaks of Doi Suthep. It has a lovely setting with a panoramic view of Chiang Mai and the Mae Ping River valley. Al­though Wat Doi Suthep is the most recently built of the temples dating from the Lanna Thai period, it is the symbol of Chiang Mai. The site was selected by sending an elephant to roam at will up the mountainside.
When the elephant reached this spot, it trumpeted, circled three times, and knelt down indicating this was an auspicious site. 

Wat Ku (Goo) Tao

Is located behind the Municipal Sta­dium (Sanam Gila) at the north of the moat. It contains a delightful, almost whimsically constructed chedi shaped like five melons. All five globes are decorated with in­tricate pieces of colored porcelain.This temple dates back to 1613. The outer wall of temple is decorated with charming murals.

Wat Puntao

has one of the few remaining wooden buildings that are still in good condition on Prapokklao Road.

Wat Prasart

a fine example of architecture is located across Inthawarorot street near Wat Phra Singh Lanna temple.

Wat Saen Fang

is of Burmese-style situated in a sur­prisingly serene spot just off busy Thapae Road.

Wiang Tha Karn (Garn)

is an ancient walled city that dates back to the Haripoonchai period, built before the advent of King Mengrai, the first of the Lanna Kings. The main historic site is near the center of modern-day Baan Tha Karn, close to the school and the village temple, Wat Tha Karn, The best-preserved of the ruins are the pagoda and the foun­dations of the wiharn, constructed from bricks and laterite. Histori­cal objects found in the town are Buddha images made from sand­stone or ceramics, while some are engraved images. Fragments of an­cient bricks and ceramic tiles can still be found within the precincts of the old city. Baan Tha Karn is about 34 kilometers to the south of Chiang Mai. Follow the Chiang Mai - Hod Road until you reach Baan Tung Siew in Sanpatong District. Turn left at this village and Baan Tha Karn is some 2 kilometers from the intersection.

Just over 43 kilometers from Chiang Mai, on the road to Hod, Highway 108, is one of the oldest temples in the north, Wat Phra That (Thart) Doi Noi in Chom Thong District. The temple was built by Queen Jamathewee in 658 AD. Among the historic sites are the Phra Borommathart Khong Pra, a stupa with a hidden underground cell, the Bodh and the Wiharn, and Buddha images carved from marble. The ancient temple itself is wonderfully located on a hill, close to the Ping River, and affords superb all-round views of the surrounding hills and valleys of Chiang Mai.

About one kilometer before Chom Thong turn right on to Highway 1009 and locate a large sign in English for Doi Inthanon at the turn. Continue 8 kilometers where the road forks, and keep to the right where the park entrance can be seen.

Wat Pra Buddha Em,

in Mae Chaem's Tambon Chang Kerng, is a most unusual temple. The buildings are built on an island in the center of a square, laterite-block-lined pond. This inundated area is called Utokasima, to distinguish it from an earthen temple surround, or Khanthasima, although the mean­ing is the same. Built at about the start of the Rattanakosin Era, over 200 years ago, this remarkable temple is registered by the Fine Arts Department.

Apart from the temple in the pool, there is an old Wiham with some fine old murals. Sadly the pigments are fading with time, but some of the paintings retain good clarity and definition.

Occupying an area of 60 hect­ares, and spread over several rolling hills, Wat Tha Ton sits high on the banks of the Mae Kok river. From the many ancient ob­jects found in the temple grounds, it is assumed that this is a site of great antiquity. Amidst the beauti­ful scenery in the temple grounds are schools for both young boys and for monks, a drug treatment center and a hilltribe support unit. In honor of His Majesty the King's 50 years on the throne, the temple is building a hilltop glass stupa.

WatPaTung (Teung)

is in Orn-Tai Subdistrict, District of Sankampaeng. Built on the site of a long-deserted monastery, many valuable objects were discovered during the preparations for constructing the present-day temple. These included ancient artifacts, Buddha images and Sangkhalok pottery. Shards and pieces of pottery have been found in the surrounding hills.

Wat PrasaadWat Jed  Yok (Yord)Wat Chiang Man

Wat Suan DorkWat  Sean FangWat Phra Singh
Among the Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand

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