The Wat Phuak Hong or the “temple of the flight of swans” is a small temple in the old walled part of Chiang Mai town. The temple comprises of a viharn, a chedi, an ubosot and a bell tower. The temple’s main attraction is its multi tiered circular chedi, built in a style very unusual to North Thailand.
The Wat Phuak Hong was built during the 16th or 17th century, its founding date is not known with certainty. The entrance to the temple grounds is guarded by a pair of Chinthe, mythological lions often seen guarding Burmese temples.
Behind the viharn is a circular chedi named Chedi Si Phuak Hong which was built during the 16th or 17th century. Its style differs from other chedi in North Thailand; It was either influenced by Yunnanese architecture or it is a circular version of the stepped Mon chedi of the Wat Ku Kut in Lamphun.
The chedi is set on a circular base in which are several Kalasa, the golden vase, the symbol of the sun. The Kalasa is often found on top of Hindu temples.
The chedi comprises of seven circular tiers of diminishing size. Each tier contains niches in which are enshrined images of the Buddha, 52 in total. The arches over the niches are adorned with intricate stucco decorations.
Lanna style viharn
The Wat Phuak Hong’s viharn is an attractive Lanna style building with a three tiered roof, the ends of the barge boards adorned with golden stylized Naga serpents. At the roof top are chofah, a bird like ornamental element representing Garuda, a creature half man, half bird from Hindu mythology.
The rectangular wooden panels on the front gable carved with Lanna style flower motifs are similar in style as those of the Viharn Lai Kham of the Wat Phra Singh temple. The entrance door is adorned with intricate wood carvings of Vishnu, the Hindu God in the typical Lanna gold and ochre colors. Over the door is a Dhamma wheel, which represents the Buddha’s teachings. Likewise, the wooden window panels are adorned with intricate carvings of several Buddhist depictions, with a Dhamma wheel over it.
On the stairs to the viharn’s entrance are two Burmese style Chinthes, mythological lions often seen guarding temples. The viharn enshrines a seated Buddha image in the “Calling the Earth to witness” posture, seated in front of a mural depicting a Bodhi tree, the tree under which the Buddha meditated and reached enlightenment. In front of the principal image are several smaller ones. On the right side of the viharn is a line of images of the Buddha in several postures, sheltered by ceremonial umbrellas.
The gable of the small ubosot (ordination hall) is adorned with intricate gold on blue background Lanna style flower motifs. Also on the grounds is a small bell tower.
How to get to the Wat Phuak Hong
The Wat Phuak Hong is found on Samlan Soi 7 in the South West corner of the old walled town of Chiang Mai. Distances within the old walled part of town are not very large; renting a bicycle is a convenient way of getting around independently. Alternatively, charter a tuk tuk. Agree on the fare before leaving.
Entrance fee & opening hours
The temple opens daily during daylight hours. Admission is free.