Wat Phra Singh is perhaps the second most venerated temple in Chiang Mai after Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. It houses three main structures, the main attraction being the elegantly decorated Lai Kam assembly hall and its restored murals depicting the lives of locals hundreds of years ago.
Located inside the old city wall, at the western end of Ratchadamnoen Road, the temple’s signature Lanna-style roofs and glittering viharn (assembly hall) invite visitors. The walled-in temple compound is busy with visitors and worshippers all year round and is usually packed during the Thai New Year festival (Songkran) in mid-April.
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Viharn Lai Kam at Wat Phra Singh
Built in 1345, and renovated in early 19th Century, the Lai Kam assembly hall at Wat Phra Signh is a fine example of Lanna temple architecture. It features soaring wing-shaped roofs as well as lavish wood carvings and stuccos throughout. Inside, it houses Phra Singh (Lion Buddha), the highly revered Buddha image showcasing the graceful ‘Lion’ style, believed to be influenced by Sukhothai and Indian Pala styles. Every Songkran, Chiang Mai locals would invite Phra Singh in a ceremonial procession around the city’s main roads for the bathing ritual.
Other interesting features inside Lai Kam assembly hall include the wall murals depicting scenes from the local way of life and popular folklore tales and the elaborately gilded round columns, windows and wall panel behind Phra Singh.
Other Highlights at Wat Phra Singh
Besides Viharn Lai Kam, the larger main assembly hall (Viharn Luang) houses a 15th-Century Buddha image cast from copper and gold. Viharn Luang is a completely rebuilt structure, set on the original site. Although impressive, the interior decorations are much less elaborate than those inside Viharn Lai Kam.
Another structure worth visiting is the library (Haw Trai), located to the left of Viharn Lai Kam. Set on a stone base, featuring beautiful stucco figures, the red-coloured wooden hall contains Buddhist scriptures.
A visit to Wat Phra Singh gives you a rich glimpse into Lanna temple art and architecture. Most of the buildings have undergone several renovations but still retain the original feel. If you have half a day, this temple is definitely worth checking out.
Wat Phra Singh
- Opening Hours: 06:00-17:00
- Location: Inside the old city wall, at the westernmost end of Ratchadamnoen Road