The Wat Suan Tan is a 14th century temple located in the town of Nan. The temple which is also known as “the temple of the sugar palm grove” comprises of two viharns, a large chedi, a Ho Trai or library building and a sala like structure housing a Buddha image.
The main viharn is a large building with a three tiered roof, elaborately carved wooden bargeboards in gold color and chofah at the roof ends. At the center of the roof is a “Dok so faa”, an ornamental roof element often found on Laotian temples.
The building’s front gable is intricately decorated with gold on red floral motifs. The bodies of ferocious looking Naga snakes extend along the balustrades of the stairs towards the building’s entrance.
The viharn enshrines the Wat Suan Tan’s principal Buddha image named Phra Chao Chong Thip. The bronze Sukhothai style image in the “Calling the Earth to witness” posture measuring 4.11 meters tall was cast in 1449 during the reign of Lanna King Tilokaraj. It is flanked by two smaller standing images of the Buddha.
The Ho Trai or library is the building where the Buddhist scriptures, the Tripitaka are kept, traditionally written on dried palm leaf. The Wat Suan Tan’s Ho Trai is a small two storey structure topped with a five tiered ornamental umbrella and gables on all four sides. The roof and gables are in the same style as the viharn with golden chofah, carved bargeboards and small gables with gold on red motifs.
Sukhothai style chedi
Behind the viharn stands the oldest structure of the temple, a large Sukhothai style chedi. The 14th century chedi measures 40 meters tall. Set on a square base with redented corners are three tiers of diminishing size. Each of the faces of the first tier contains a large false niche. On top of the highest tier is a Sukhothai style bell and four small spires on the corners. The chedi is topped with a small Khmer style prang and a ceremonial umbrella.
Another smaller viharn, a small open sala like structure houses a seated Buddha image. Also on the grounds is a large Bodhi tree. Bodhi trees are often found on the grounds of Thai temples, since the Buddha meditated and reached enlightenment under a Bodhi tree some 2,500 years ago. Next to the main viharn stands a statue of Guanyin, the Chinese Goddess of mercy.
How to get to the Wat Suan Tan
The temple is located on Mahayot road, North of the center of Nan town. To get there, book a private car through hotel or charter a songthaew, a converted pick up truck with benches in the back.
Entrance fee & opening hours
The temple opens daily from 7 am until 6 pm. Admission is free.