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Chiang Mai Temples Walking Tour (Self Guided), Chiang Mai

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.
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Chiang Mai Temples Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Chiang Mai Temples Walking Tour
Guide Location: Thailand » Chiang Mai (See other walking tours in Chiang Mai)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Wat Buppharam
  • Wat Ou Sai Kham
  • Wat Chiang Man
  • Wat Umong Mahathera Chan
  • Wat Sadeu Muang
  • Wat Chedi Luang
  • Wat Phra Singh
Wat Buppharam

1) Wat Buppharam (must see)

The Wat Buppharam or Suan Dok is a small Buddhist temple and historical site in Chiang Mai. It was here that 200 years of Burmese rule ended after their defeat by Chao Kawila in 1797 and Lanna rule was restored. The temple itself was built by the Lanna King, Muang Kaew, in 1497 as a place for a revered monk from Sukhothai to spend his rain retreat but was renovated several times and none of the Lanna structures remain today.

The structure of the Wat Buppharam was given a complete makeover in 1996 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. New doors were added to the Viharn and some of the ancient Buddhist images were replaced. A library was also built within the temple complex. Notable features of the temple are the large Ubosot or ordination hall and the Chedis with the ashes of the rulers of Chiang Mai. The temple complex also houses the Mahachulalongkorn Rajavidyalaya Buddhist University. The present Wat Buppharam has many stucco reliefs, murals and wood carvings that are fine examples of modern religious art.

Why You Should Visit:
This temple's uniqueness is derived from the fact that it’s built tall and skinny, which is very unusual for temples across Thailand.
Surrounded by gardens, an architectural gateway which leads to a 'chedi' to the right of the temple, it truly stands out from the rest.

Climb the two flights of stairs and enter the temple to see the beautiful inside decorated in red, gold and green. You can also enjoy lunch on the grounds.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
Wat Ou Sai Kham

2) Wat Ou Sai Kham

The Wat Ou Sai Kham is on Chang Moi Kao Street near the Ta Pae Gate in Chiang Mai. The small temple is famous for its Jade Buddha statues and unique imagery.

The Wat Ou Sai Kham is more than 300 years old. The first temple that stood on the site was abandoned because the villagers were too poor to support a temple and monastery. It was rebuilt in 1841 AD on land donated by a lady from Chiang San in Chiang Rai province. She gave the name Ou Sai Kham or the Temple of the Golden Sands to the Wat.

The Wat Ou Sai Kham has a 170 year old Big Buddha statue from the Lanna era. The important statue is the jade Buddha that is a 109 centimeters high and weighs 900 kilograms. The figure has a Lanna style posture of the Buddha conquering the evil Mara. It is the largest Buddha statue made of Burmese jade in Thailand. There is a Phra Sang-Krachi statue and visitors and locals are encouraged to rub the belly of the figure for luck. The temple also has a simple Chedi or Stupa and a small assembly hall or Viharn. The interiors of the Viharn are covered with beautiful religious murals.
Wat Chiang Man

3) Wat Chiang Man (must see)

Chiang Mai's oldest temple, Wat Chiang Man was built in 1296 by the Lanna King Mengrai who laid the foundations of the city. It is said that King Mengrai lived at the temple while his palace was being built. A stele dated 1581 near the Ubosot records that the foundation of the city of Chaing Mai was on April 12th, 1296 at 4 pm.

The small Viharn or assembly hall in the Wat Chiang Man complex contains the crystal Buddha which once belonged to Chama Devi the queen of Haripunchai. King Mengrai burned the kingdom of Haripunchai and founded Chiang Mai. The Crystal Buddha dates back to the year 663 AD. The other statue in the Viharn is the Marble Buddha. Locals pray to the idol for rain and on April 1st a rain festival is held annually. The large Viharn has the oldest Buddhist statue in Chiang Mai. Installed in the year 1465, it depicts the Buddha holding a begging bowl. There is a 15th-century Stupa with carved elephants on its stone walls showing the influence of monks from Sri Lanka. The temple complex also has a repository of religious scriptures and a lotus pond.

Why You Should Visit:
If you enjoy architecture, this will blow you away. The main temple is over the top with decorations and ornateness. Deep reds and gold accentuate everything.
The details on the outside of the buildings are breathtaking when the sun hits them. The complex is immaculately kept all of the time and well-fed dogs abound.

The Tha Phae Gate along the river is on the way to Wat Chiang Man if walking from the Night Bazaar direction and is worth a quick 10 min stop off also – nice opportunity for a photo!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-5pm
Free admission
Wat Umong Mahathera Chan

4) 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.
Wat Sadeu Muang

5) Wat Sadeu Muang

Wat Sadeu Muang is also called Wat Inthakin and the Temple of the City Navel. The city pillar was first brought to this temple and remained here for an extended period of time. It is also said that this was the site where one of the kings of the Lanna decided to establish the city of Chiang Mai. According to tradition, the remains of this king were brought here as well. The city pillar was later moved to another location and the temple lost some of its importance.
Wat Chedi Luang

6) 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
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

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 Introduction Walk

Chiang Mai Introduction Walk

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.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 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