Temple & Museum Tour

See three of Chiang Mai’s most magnificent temples

Temple Tour Chiang Mai | Wat Chiang Man
Wat Chiang Man

During this half day tour you will see three of the most famous temples of Chiang Mai as well as the City Arts & Cultural Center.

Wat Chiang Man Temple

The Wat Chiang Man (Wat is the Thai word for temple) was built in 1297 which makes this the oldest temple of Chiang Mai.

When King Mengrai founded Chiang Mai in 1296 to be the capital of the Lanna Kingdom he lived in a camp to oversee the construction of the city. It was here that the Wat Chiang Man was constructed.

The oldest structure in the temple complex is the Chedi Chang Lom, also called the Sacred Elephant Encircled Stupa. A hair relic of The Buddha is enshrined inside this white chedi, which is surrounded by 15 life-sized elephant statues.

There are two viharns (Buddhist monastery) on this temple complex, the largest of which houses the oldest Buddha statue of the Lanna Kingdom dating back to the year 1465.

Phra Sila & Phra Sae Tang Khamani images

Inside the other smaller viharn two important and famous Buddha statues are kept.

The Phra Sila is a standing Buddha image carved out in stone said to be originating from Sri Lanka about 1,200 years ago. This image is believed to hold the power of bringing rain and it therefore plays an important part during the Songkran festival, the traditional celebration of Thai new year in April. During this festival the streets everywhere in Thailand are crowded with people throwing water at each other or shooting from water guns.

The Phra Sae Tang Khamani or Crystal Buddha is a small Buddha image carved out of quartz crystal. It is not known how old exactly this statue is, but it is believed to protect against disasters.

Temple Tour Chiang Mai | Wat Phra Singh
Wat Phra Singh | The Ho Trai library

Wat Phra Singh Temple

The second temple is the Wat Phra Singh, also known as the Monastery of the lion. This temple is one of the highlights of Lanna architecture in Northern Thailand. It was built in mid 14th century during the reign of King Pa Yo to enshrine the ashes of his father, King Kham Yu.

The name of the temple is derived from the Thai word “singh”, meaning lion. The temple got its name when the Phra Singh Buddha was brought here in 1367. The origin of this image is not known, but it likely comes from India or Sri Lanka.

Two fine examples of Lanna architecture can be found here, namely the Ho Trai and the Viharn Lai Kham. The Ho Trai built in 1477 contains the library of the temple. The lower part of the structure is a brick stuccoed base, decorated with finely carved dancing figures. The upper wooden part is covered with gilded lacquer, mosaics and carvings.

The second magnificent example of classical Lanna architecture is the Viharn Lai Kham which holds the Phra Singh Buddha. This traditional teak wooden building was built in 1345 and is richly decorated with a gilded lacquer facade, from which it derives its name - Lai Kham means gold patterning. The beautiful mural paintings inside date from around 1820 and show scenes of daily life in the Lanna Kingdom as well as fables from the Jataka tales, which are a great number of stories about previous incarnations of the Buddha.

Wat Chedi Luang Temple

The last temple on this tour is the Wat Chedi Luang. The Phra Chedi Luang originates from the end of the 14th century when it was built to a height of around 24 meters. After years of expansions, in 1475 the structure reached a height of more than 80 meters which made it the tallest structure of Chiang Mai which it remained for centuries.

The present day structure is still impressive but much lower - a large earthquake in 1545 partly destroyed the chedi and took off some 30 meters. The Wat Chedi Luang also houses the city pillar, the Sao Inthakin, which people believe guards the city from misfortune.

Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center

Last stop is the Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center. This museum tells the history and culture of the Chiang Mai region from as far back as 12,000 years ago to the present day as well as plans for the future. There area sections dedicated to Buddhism, other regional beliefs of this area, hill tribes people and migration, Chiang Mai traditions, the earliest civilizations and the Royal Dynasties.

Temple & Museum Tour

Wat Chiang Man + Wat Phra Singh + Wat Chedi Luang + Chiang Mai city arts and cultural center
Private tour including transfers and entrance fees

Starting at Baht