After living in Asia for two years, we thought we had seen enough temples to last us a lifetime. But then we visited Chiang Mai, Thailand, and it didn’t take long for the glittering and ornate places of worship to mesmerize us all over again.
There are over 300 Buddhist temples in the Chiang Mai province, many with stunning architectural details in spectacular settings. Of course, attempting to visit all the temples just in Chiang Mai City is enough to overwhelm anyone. We only made it to four temples, which was the perfect amount for us to take our time exploring and not feel temple burn-out.
While Thailand’s many beautiful beaches and mouthwatering cuisine are understandably the top reasons why many visit the country, we think these photos of Chiang Mai temples will encourage you to also take some time to learn about the amazing culture and history as well!
These Chiang Mai Temples Will Make You Want To Visit Thailand Today
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
This sweeping temple sits at 3,520 feet above sea level on top of Doi Suthep Hill. The golden Phra That shimmers spectacularly in the sunlight as monks peacefully walk throughout the grounds. Be sure to thoroughly explore for 360-degree view of the revered chedi (Buddhist stupa) along with various Buddha structures and blessing stations. Outside of the main temple area, you’ll also find a fantastic view of Chiang Mai City.
Wat Chedi Luang
Located in the heart of Old Town, Chedi Luang was our favorite temple we visited inside the Old City walls. Construction of Chedi Luang began in 1391. An earthquake in 1545 is responsible for the ruined state of the dome on top of the temple. The snake statues at the foot of the stairs and the elephant statues midway up are said to guard the ashes of Ku Na, the father of King Saen Muang Ma (who built the temple.)
Wat Phan Tao
Another stunning temple in the Old City, this monastery to the teak trade is located just behind Wat Chedi Luang. If you’re visiting Chiang Mai in May or June, be sure to stop by here for the Visakha Bucha festival, when monks place hundreds of lamps in the pond on the grounds.
Wat Lamchang might be small, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t atmospheric. Don’t miss the large elephant that stands guard at the temple. (Interestingly the name Lamchang actually translates to “shackled elephant.”)
Tips For Visiting Temples In Chiang Mai
It’s important to keep in mind that these temples are places of worship, and as such, you’ll want to follow certain rules of etiquette when visiting. Here are a few guidelines that will serve you well, not only when visiting temples in Chiang Mai, but anywhere:
- Don’t wear shorts or sleeveless tops. Or, at least bring a sarong to cover up with when entering the temple. Some temples will have public sarongs available, but better to bring your own just in case. (For example, Casey is wearing shorts in the second photo, but she had cover ups with her for actually entering the temple grounds.)
- Be respectful when photographing. Don’t be a distraction to those who have come to the temple to pray or ask for guidance. After all, if you were their to pay homage, you wouldn’t necessarily want a tourist snapping a photo of you.
- Don’t turn your back on Buddha statues; this is considered rude
- Don’t raise yourself higher than Buddha statues or monks
These are just a handful of the many stunning Chiang Mai temples. So tell us – have you visited any memorable temples in Thailand? Where are our favorite temples around the world?