Chiang Mai is a city of wat's the name for Buddhist and Hindu temples in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. The word wat is borrowed from Sanskrit and means enclosure. There are so many different temples to see here some are high up in the mountain others are hidden down small alleys and but most are on proud display at the intersection of big streets. It can often feel overwhelming to decide to which temples to go to because you don't want to get burnt out by seeing 4 temples everyday but you also want to take in all their beauty. The two temples I chose to visit before I head for the south was Wat Chedi Luang which is a temple in the middle of the city and has deep historical value and Wat Sri Suphan which is a temple made of silver.
Wat Chedi Luang started construction in the 14th century. However, it wasn't until the 16th century that it was finished. The grounds were originally composed of 3 smaller temples. A powerful earthquake destroyed the main stupa, a mound-like structure that holds Buddhist relics and is used as a site of meditation, and it presently sits in a state of beautiful destruction. The rest of the grounds is still in tack and full of beautiful little details and statues. In one of the rooms, the walls and ceilings are all decorated with a detailed story of gods and monsters from Thai mythology.
Hands down the most beautiful temple I've seen in my life was Wat Sri Suphan. It was originally built in the 1500's as the main temple for the silversmith village. The temple itself was built and rebuilt so many times over the years but it wasn't until the early 2000's that it was covered in a mixture of aluminum, silver, and zinc. In the sunlight the entire temple shines so magnificiently, I could stare for hours.
Unfortunately, women are not allowed in the temple due to the idea that either they will be corrupted or they will corrupt the holy objects buried 500 years ago. But there is more to see then just the temple on these grounds. From 5:30-9pm Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays you can chat with monks about whatever you want to. As well on Saturdays there is a big market that radiates from the temple. Though, its not as big as the Sunday market.
Chiang Mai has so many Wat’s to choose from you really can’t go wrong, next time I visit I want to go to the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep which is located in the mountains overlooking Chiang Mai. But whatever you do remember that you don’t have to see everything just because you are traveling. Its ok to take some time and be picky otherwise you will exhaust yourself and won’t find any enjoyment in the sights that you do see. Traveling long term is always about striking the right balance! Subscribe below so you never miss an addition to the Archive!