Wat Overload in Chiang Mai
Somewhere north of Bangkok is my favorite city in Thailand, Chiang Mai! Aside from being cheaper than Bangkok which is cheaper than Phuket, it’s got an atmosphere that made me want to stay longer than planned. I met up with some travel blogger friends while there and made some new friends as well. I ate a lot of street food, drank a lot of watermelon shakes, and had a lot of massages mainly because I did a lot of walking!
Chiang Mai is the most culturally significant and largest city in Northern Thailand. There’s a Wat (Temple) less than a kilometer away, almost everywhere! I remember one friend saying, “In Thailand, there’s Buddha everywhere. Buddha, Buddha, Buddha, Buddha, Buddha…” Then during my time in Thailand, I said “Wat, wat, wat, wat, wat…” Here are some of the Wats I visited when I was in Chiang Mai early this year. I did a walking tour of the Wats inside the old city wall and a separate trip to Wat Phra Tat Doi Suthep up the Doi Suthep Mountain.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is one of the most historically and spiritually significant places in Thailand. Thais and tourists visit the temple and want to experience the holiness of this place. It is also an excellent example of the power and grandeur of the Lanna Kingdom. To reach the spot, you have the choice of climbing over 300 steps (great exercise) leading to it or take the lift both ways or the the lift up then go down the steps (to take photos, of course!)
Wat Phra Singh
Wat Phra Sing is the second most venerated temple in Chiang Mai. It is located inside the old city wall. This temple gives its visitors a rich taste of Lanna Architecture – the Lanna style roofs and glittering viharn are very inviting to visitors. It also houses a 15th Century Buddha cast from copper and gold.
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang is probably my favorite Wat. I like how it’s constructed from brick. Don’t get me wrong, I do adore the Golden Wats and the intricate architecture of the other Wats, but the centuries old feel of Chedi Luang is very picturesque and I felt like I was visiting the old city back in the days when King Saen Muang Ma was still the ruler. The Wat was damaged by the earthquake in 1545 and the height of the original Chedi was reduced to almost half its size. Restoration works has been done in the early 90′s but was never quite complete, thus its present look.
Wat Chedi Luang also was once the home of the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most religious relic.It is now kept in the Temple of Emerald Buddha at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
Wat Phan Tao
Wat Phan Tao is beside Wat Chedi Luang. The name Wat Phan Tao means “Monastery of a Thousand Kilns”. It has been believed that the name refers to the casting of the numerous Buddhas for it’s bigger neighbor, Wat Chedi Luang. The structure currently functions as a monastery and is one of the few remaining all-wood buildings in Chiang Mai.
Wat Phan Tao was originally the “ho kham” meaning ‘guilded hall’ and was the palace of Chiang Mai’s king, Chao Mahawong, Ruler from 1846 to 1854.
Wat Chiang Man
Wat Chiang Man is the oldest Wat in Chiang Mai. It was constructed during the founding of the city around 1296. It served as the home of the city’s founder, king Mengrai, for some time. It’s also one of the best Wats to visit to have a good feel for Lanna Architecture. It’s adorned red lacquer, gold leaves and mosaics – probably the prettiest wat I visited in Chiang Mai.
What’s a trip to Chiang Mai without a sweaty afternoon visiting temples? I’ve had my fair share of temples when I did a walking tour of those inside the old city. I did visit other wats, photos of which can be found on my facebook page. Around 10 watermelon shakes and un counted street food were consumed (a lot of crepe and sticky rice with mango!) What’s a visit of Chiang Mai without a sweaty walking tour of its beautiful wats? So come on guys and gals, go, walk, sweat and get cultured!