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Chiang Mai Introduction Walk (Self Guided), Chiang Mai

Once capital of an independent ancient kingdom, between the 13th and 16th centuries AD, Chiang Mai is a treasure trove of historic sights: vestiges of walls and moats, hundreds of intricately decorated Buddhist temples, including 14th-century Wat Phra Singh and 15th-century Wat Chedi Luang, and more. These and other prominent attractions of Chiang Mai make up this orientation walk.
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Chiang Mai Introduction Walk Map

Guide Name: Chiang Mai Introduction Walk
Guide Location: Thailand » Chiang Mai (See other walking tours in Chiang Mai)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Tha Pae Gate
  • Ratchadamnoen Road
  • Wat Umong Mahathera Chan
  • Three Kings Monument
  • Wat Chedi Luang
  • Central Police Station Monument
  • Wat Phra Singh
  • Wat Phuak Hong
  • Buak Hard Public Park
  • Suan Prung Gate
  • Chiang Mai Gate
Tha Pae Gate

1) Tha Pae Gate

The Tha Pae Gate is the entrance to the old walled city of Chiang Mai. It is a landmark structure and the venue of many public gatherings and religious processions all year round.

The Tha Pae Gate was built in 1296 during the reign of King Mengrai, the founder of the city of Chiang Mai. The eight main gates of the old city face a specific direction according to the eight compass points and each has an astrological faculty. The Tha Pae Gate faces east and has the astrological faculty of Mula or prosperity. Historically, it was the main gate that visiting monks, traders and diplomats had to pass to reach Chiang Mai.

Some important annual events that take place near Tha Pae gate are the annual Flower Carnival in February, the Songkarn or the Thai New year celebrations in April and the Loy Krathong festival. It is also a meeting point for rural people and the city folk. On Saturday nights a live band performs at the permanent stage on the square in front of Tha Pae Gate. Many stalls that form part of the walking street- Ratchadamnoen Road Sunday market are set up near the gate and stalls selling local delicacies provide food and drink for the hungry visitor.
Ratchadamnoen Road

2) Ratchadamnoen Road

The Walking Street- Ratchadamnoen Road is a Sunday evening market in Chiang Mai. It is popular with tourists and locals looking for authentic crafts, traditional food and local street entertainment.

Ratchadamnoen Road, the main road between Tapei Gate and the Wat Phra Sing in the old city is closed for traffic and becomes a pedestrian road every Sunday evening between 2 pm and 10 pm. The street is flanked by stalls set up by vendors of handicrafts. Many stalls are run by the craftsmen themselves and the objects displayed are unique and diverse. Decorative objects made of wood, coconut shells, ceramics, fabric and paper are popular with the locals and tourists to take home as souvenirs.

The grounds of the many temples that line Ratchadamnoen Road become food courts on Sunday evenings and visitors can enjoy local Thai culinary delights freshly made at the stalls. Some culinary favorites are the Som Tam or green papaya salad and Khao Soi, a soup that is a specialty in Northern Thailand. There is also plenty of entertainment with street musicians, Thai dancers, living statues and puppeteers performing for interested passer bys. The Walking Street- Ratchadamnoen Road Sunday market has become today one of the most visited Chiang Mai institutions that is frequented by locals and tourists.
Wat Umong Mahathera Chan

3) Wat Umong Mahathera Chan (must see)

Off the beaten path for most tourists, this quaint temple is great to get out of the midday sun, but also feels amazingly peaceful considering its proximity to the bustling streets of Chiang Mai. Boasting two wonderful, ancient chedis (stupas) hidden away behind the grounds near the back, as well as artistic adornments from the fences to the temple proper, the complex also features a small garden for those who want to genuinely take part in meditation. What is more, 1) the head monk speaks good English and is only too happy to talk about the history of the temple and the monks who reside here; 2) toilets are available for all.
Three Kings Monument

4) Three Kings Monument (must see)

Located in the center of Chiang Mai, in the area where palaces used to stand, the Three Kings Monument is dedicated to the three Northern Lao Kings who founded the city of Chiang Mai. It is the venue of the King’s birthday celebrations in early December annually.

The Three Kings Monument consists of the bronze statues of King Mengrai, the founder of Chiang Mai and his two friends, King Ramkamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Payao, who are believed to have worked together to build the city. This has become an iconic part of the city and is reproduced in different forms and installed in different parts of Chiang Mai. There is a square in front of the monument which is the venue for many festivals. The square is surrounded by restaurants serving western food; close-by is also the office of Thai Airways.

The Three Kings Monument is located inside the city walls at the center of the old city. The monument stands in front of the Old Provincial Hall building which is today the City Art and Culture Center. The locals regard the monument as a shrine for the three kings. They offer flowers, incense and candles to the statue to invoke the blessings of these great Kings who conceived of the idea of the city of Chiang Mai.

If you visit Chiang Mai during the Loy Krathong Festival (usually in November), this is an absolute must-see. All the grounds have the most beautiful lanterns and decorative animals on display.
At any other time, there are two museums surrounding (one behind and one in front), so to combine all three would be worth it.
Wat Chedi Luang

5) Wat Chedi Luang (must see)

The Wat Chedi Luang is a large ruined temple located in the heart of the old city area of Chiang Mai. It gets its name from the large Chedi or Stupa that once formed part of the temple complex.

The construction of Wat Chedi Luang was begun by King Saen Muang Ma to hold the ashes of his father, Ku Na. His successors further expanded the temple and construction was completed in 1475. At the time, it housed the Emerald Buddha regarded as the holiest religious object in Thailand. In 1575, the temple fell to ruin and was never rebuilt. In the 1990s, the UNESCO and the Japanese Government built a new Chedi in Central Thai style rather than in the traditional Lanna style of other temples in Chiang Mai.

Visitors can still see the old brick wat. The large stairway that leads to the temple is guarded by stone figures of mythical snakes and elephants. The large Viharn or assembly hall has a brass statue of a standing Buddha installed by King Saen Muang Ma. He also planted the ancient Dipterocarp tree in the grounds. It is believed that a great catastrophe will befall the city when the tree falls. A small cross-shaped building adjacent to the tree houses the city pillar dedicated to the spirit of the city. The tree and the spirit are said to protect Chiang Mai from evil and disaster.

Why You Should Visit:
If you want to see the monks chanting, this is the best place to go. Twice a day, 8am and 5:30pm, monks gather in the main hall to chant.

If possible, go at (or stay until) nightfall to walk around this one. You can feel the peacefulness and the ambiance going after dark because these parts of the city are full of magic!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-5pm
Central Police Station Monument

6) Central Police Station Monument

The Central Police Station is located on the Ratchadamnoen Road, which is the central road in Old Chiang Mai, and where the main tourist attractions are. There's an interesting monument in the yard of the police station. It represents a policeman saving the life of a young man. The monument is very moving.
Wat Phra Singh

7) Wat Phra Singh (must see)

Chaing Mai’s most important and sacred image of the Buddha, the Phra Buddha Singh is housed in the assembly hall of this ancient temple. Every year, during the Songkran festival, the statue is taken from the assembly hall and carried through the streets of Chiang Mai in a religious procession during which the spectators honour the statue by sprinkling water over it.

Wat Phra Singh was constructed by King Pha Yu to contain the ashes of his father, Kham Fu. In 1367, the Phra Singh image of the Buddha found its way to Chiang Mai from the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya in India. The temple gets its name from this statue of the Buddha with a unique lion style. The temple is guarded by stone lions.

The Wat Phra Singh complex consists of a large assembly hall or Viharn with a gilded copper image of the Buddha surrounded by white pillars supporting a red roof. The smaller assembly hall houses the Phra Singh statue. The hall is covered with paintings of the Buddhist folk tales – the Jataka tales. The Ubosot or ordination hall is perpendicular to the small Viharn and is decorated with elaborate mandala designs. The complex also contains a small monastic library and several Chedis including an old one dating back to 1345. The statue of Phra Singh is taken from the temple in procession around Chiang Mai during the Songkran or Thai New Year festival annually.

Why You Should Visit:
This is indeed one of the largest temples in the city, and also one of the prettiest, with a peaceful atmosphere.
There is also the possibility of talking to monks and having one or more days of Buddhism and meditation classes.

The monks here are serious and prefer not to have pictures of the Buddha statues, believing this to be disrespectful. They also discourage the use of the Buddha as art, asking that representations be confined to shrines, whether public or private.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
Wat Phuak Hong

8) Wat Phuak Hong

Wat Phuak Hong is translated as The Monastery of the Flight of Swans. It is a very beautiful temple in the Old Town of Chiang Mai. The architecture of the temple is well worth seeing. You'll see several circular layers stacked on top of one another, which form the temple. There are different opinions concerning this style of construction. Some think it's a Yunnanese-influenced design, while some think it's Lanna.
Buak Hard Public Park

9) Buak Hard Public Park (must see)

The Buak Hard is a public park in the southwest corner of Chiang Mai’s old city. Embellished with many fresh flowers and big ponds, it is a very famous place for local people and tourists to visit and is a location for many of Chiang Mai’s festivals such as the Flower Festival.

There are vendors at the gate and visitors can buy food and rent a mat to sit on the grass. The locals also do their daily exercise here and come to jog or walk in the park. The formal gardens are landscaped around small lakes and bridges and offer an ideal setting for a leisurely and serene stroll. A children’s play area makes it a favorite spot for local families.

The Suan Buak Haad comes alive during the annual flower festival. The Flower Festival Parade ends at the park. Flower and plant sellers, especially those who sell orchids, are allowed to set up stalls. Some stalls also sell garden figures and decorations. A competition is held and special displays of flowers and miniature trees compete for the prize. There are displays by well known Thai landscape specialists and displays from neighboring countries. By late afternoon the flower competition ends and a competition to choose the Miss Chiang Mai Flower Festival begins. At this time the garden becomes the venue of a large party with loud rock music and partying locals and tourists.

Why You Should Visit:
Even without the many flowers, this would still be a great place to relax for an afternoon. You can rent a straw mat for a few baht and just sit and watch the birds, fish or people playing sports or performing circus tricks.

Bring plenty of change for ice cream, buy food to feed the fish in the ponds, and if you go in the afternoon remember to bring mosquito repellent.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 5am-9pm
Suan Prung Gate

10) Suan Prung Gate

Suan Prung Gate was built in the 15th century, much later than the other four gates. The gate was built by a king of Chiang Mai so his mother could enter the city directly, as she lived not far from this part of Old Town. There was, and still is, a tradition in Chiang Mai of carrying dead people for cremation through this gate.
Chiang Mai Gate

11) Chiang Mai Gate

Chiang Mai Gate was built in 1296. The gate led to the old Lamphun Road. It was rebuilt and is now wider than it used to be in ancient times. There's a market at this gate. You can buy both exotic, fresh and cooked foods, plus household items here. The Shrine of San Chao Pu Pratu Chiang Mai is also located at this gate.

Walking Tours in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Create Your Own Walk in Chiang Mai

Create Your Own Walk in Chiang Mai

Creating your own self-guided walk in Chiang Mai is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Chiang Mai Temples Walking Tour

Chiang Mai Temples Walking Tour

There are many impressive attractions in Chiang Mai, but its temples are really amazing. You'll see temples as old as the city itself, over seven hundred years old. The temples are must-see sites for their historic and cultural importance, for their architecture, and religious statues. Take this self-guided tour and explore these fascinating places in Chiang Mai.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
North-West Chiang Mai Walking Tour

North-West Chiang Mai Walking Tour

Chiang Mai is a beautiful Asian city with a variety of tourist attractions. The city boasts an artsy atmosphere and many gorgeous temples scattered around town. There are several art galleries, museums and temples in the Northwestern part of Chiang Mai. It's also a district where you can experience Chiang Mai shopping. Take this self-guided tour to explore this part of Chiang Mai.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
South Chiang Mai Walking Tour

South Chiang Mai Walking Tour

The South of Chiang Mai is home to some wonderful sights, there's a Christian cathedral, which is a unusual in this Buddhist country, a magnificent Thai palace and ruins of ancient temples over a thousand years old. Take this self-guided tour to explore this amazing part of Chiang Mai.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.5 Km or 4.7 Miles
Chiang Mai Museums Walking Tour

Chiang Mai Museums Walking Tour

There are many interesting things to see in Chiang Mai museums. The city boasts a rich and colorful history and culture that is well-preserved in the museums of Chiang Mai. You will learn about the mystery of ancient Lanna culture, Lanna art and Thai craft. This self-guided tour will lead you through the best of Chiang Mai’s museums.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.2 Km or 5.7 Miles
Chiang Mai Shopping Walking Tour

Chiang Mai Shopping Walking Tour

Chiang Mai will captivate you with its shopping opportunities. You will find diverse, unusual and unique goods at very convenient prices. Chiang Mai is one of the cheapest places in Thailand to shop. You'll find silk, silver, clothing, ceramics, antiques, Buddhist art, lacquer and neilloware, and more. Take this self-guided tour to explore Thailand's most exiting shopping.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles