10 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

Most Important Temples of Chiang mai

Chiang Mai is not exactly short of a temple or two. There are over 300 ‘wats’ scattered throughout the city and surrounding countryside - no other province in the whole of Thailand is home to more.

Most temples in Chiang Mai are of the ‘Lanna’ style, dating between the 13th and 18th centuries and characterised by curved wooden roofs pointing up at the top. There are a few obvious choices that you can’t ignore while temple hunting in Chiang Mai; Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is the most famous, perched high up in the mountain that overlooks the city. Wat Chedi Luang is another must-see, and much more easily accessible, located inside the Old City walls and walking distance from many of the top hotels. Here’s our rundown of 10 must-see temples in Chiang Mai.

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    Forever holding onto the crown of the most-visited, most famous, and most highly revered temple in Chiang Mai is the magnificent Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (for short, you can just call it Wat Doi Suthep). The journey up the winding mountain road is an experience in itself, whether you’re doing it on a rented scooter (250 baht for the day), as part of a private excursion (600 baht there and back) or sitting in a packed-out songthaew with the locals (80 baht for one way). The final leg of the journey requires of 309-step walk up to reach the 600-year-old golden ‘chedi’ at the top that towers above the surrounding temple building and monks’ living quarters. Read More...

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    If you’re short on time or have already done Doi Suthep and need more temple action, one of the best is located right in the middle of the Old City, walking distance from many of most popular hotels and markets. ‘Luang’ translates in old Lanna language to something like ‘very big’, and the enormous crumbling central structure certainly lives up to its name. Some quick facts: the main chedi is 80 metres tall making it the highest point in the Chiang Mai’s Old City; the temple complex dates all the way back to 1385 (but has had various additions, re-builds and revamps since); and it was once home to the highly-revered Emerald Buddha, which now takes pride of place in Bangkok’s Grand Palace. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: 06:00 - 17:00
    • Location: Phrapokklao Road
    • Tel: +66 (0) 53 24 8604
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    Thanks to a huge renovation in the 19th century, plus numerous licks of paint ever since, Wat Phra Singh stands as one of the most visually impressive temples in Chiang Mai. The main temple building is the star of the show, featuring those iconic slanted Lanna-style roofs and an intricately decorated façade that shines brightly in the sunlight. There’s also various stupas and pagodas dotted around the grounds, which are free to enter. Walking distance from Wat Chedi Luang in the Old City, our recommendation is to fit in both during a morning or afternoon sightseeing trip on two feet or tuk-tuk. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: 06:00 - 17:00
    • Location: Inside the old city wall, at the westernmost end of Ratchadamnoen Road
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    Characterised by its shining array of brilliant-white chedis surrounding a glowing golden stupa, Wat Suan Dok is one of the less-visited temples in Chiang Mai but still definitely still worth a look. It’s located just outside the city walls on the road towards the University and Niman area, so it’s not exactly hard to find. Wat Suan Dok was built in late 14th century by a King of Chiang Mai and was originally intended to serve as a retreat for a revered monk from Sukhothai – the capital of Thailand at the time. There are also free meditation class and ‘monk chats’ Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 17:30-21:00. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: 06:00 - 21:00
    • Location: Suthep Road, about 1km east of Suan Dok Gate
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    Still standing after 700 years, Wat Umong certainly shows its age, despite numerous touch-ups over the years. The crumbling, weather-worn central stupa towers into the sky, set around a well-maintained tropical garden and smart-looking green lawns. While the main stupa provides a neat photo-op, there’s plenty more to do at Wat Umong; feed the fish and turtles in the garden’s main pond, walk around the ‘talking trees’ that offer words of advice (in Thai and English), and head underground to check out the series of ancient tunnels. Find it just beyond the airport, in the foothills of Doi Suthep Mountain next to the zoo. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: 06:00 - 17:00
    • Address: 135 Moo 10 Suthep, Chiang Mai
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    Famous (mostly among locals) for its huge seated Buddha, Wat Phra That Doi Kham is one of the lesser-known temples in Chiang Mai thanks to its slightly out-of-the-way location, but nonetheless just as spectacular as many of the more popular temples in Chiang Mai. The Giant Buddha structure towers nearly 20 metres into the air, painted in bright white and gold colours. The whole temple complex dates back more than 1,000 years, with plenty of shrines, pagodas and relics to explore in the tropical garden area in the foothills of the Doi Suthep Mountain range. It is also known as the ‘Temple of the Golden Mountain’. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: 06:00 - 18:00
    • Location: Mae Hia, Chiang Mai
    • Tel: +66 (0) 8 4373 4440
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    Wat Sri Suphan

    This central Chiang Mai temple really stands out from the rest with its shiny coat of silver paint that glistens brightly in the sunlight. The tips of the stupas are solid silver and at night they have a neon light display which turns the temple into multiple colours – a stunning sight indeed. The temple complex actually dates back to the 16th century, although the main silver building is much newer, with additional halls and monks' buildings nearby. There is also a silver-working school housed here, which helps to pass on the traditions which led to the temples creation. Find it just south of the Old City walls on Wualai Road, close to the weekend market. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: 06:00 – 21:00
    • Address: 100 Wulai Road (next to the Wualai Saturday Walking Street Market)
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    Wat Chiang Man temple once served as the residence of the city’s founder, King Mengrai, shortly after its construction in the 13th century (which makes it one of the very oldest in the region). The temple itself is a glorious sight from every angle, with the old crumbling pagoda offering an insight into the rich history of Wat Chiang Man, while the newer temple hall presents a fine example of traditional Lanna architecture that has been well maintained over the years. Find it on Ratchaphakhinai Road, near the Chang Puak gate in the northern part of the old city. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: 08:00 - 17:00
    • Location: The corner of Ratchaphakhinai Road and Phra Poklao Road soi 13
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    Wat Lok Molee

    Chiang Mai Old City

    Another visually striking temple in Chiang Mai is Wat Lok Moli, well-known for its three-tiered wooden roof and prime location very close to Chang Puak Gate on the north edge of the Old City. The main temple hall has been well-restored, although the weathered chedi at the back shows the temple's true age, dating back to around the 14th century. Although Wat Lok Molee is located very central, it’s just hidden out of the way meaning most tourists miss it, allowing it to enjoy a little more peace and tranquillity compared to some of the city’s other temples. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: 06:00 - 17:00
    • Location: Thanon Manee Nopparat Soi 2, Chiang Mai
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    Next door to Wat Chedi Luang – the most famous temple in Chiang Mai’s Old City – you’ll find this rather more modest building. Despite its size, it’s still well worth a look for its ornate decorations and detailed statues dotted around the garden. The temple has a viharn, which is one of the few remaining all wood structures in Chiang Mai. This was originally the ‘ho kham’ which literally translates as Read More...

    • Opening Hours: 07:00 - 17:00
    • Location: Diagonally adjacent to Wat Chedi Luang, Phrapokklao Road
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