Wat Chang Kong
History dates this Wat back to the founding of Chiang Mai, however what can be seem at Wat Chang Kong today dates back to around 1900. Practically nothing is writen about this Wat. I’m just going to run through the buildings quickly.
The obvious structures are the viharn with its guardian Nagas and inside house the principle Buddha image and fine murals on its walls. There is a white chedi with niches for Buddha images. There is another building, a Buddha image and a Ho Trai which was built in 1903.
Wat Chiang Man
Wat Chiang Mai is the oldest temple in Chiang Mai dating back to 1296 when the city was first founded.
There are 5 basic structures in the Wat. The chedi is a mixture of Lanna style and Singhalese styles. As is true with most Wats, this chedi is the oldest structure and is named Chang Lom Chedi or Elephant Chedi sitting on a square base supporting a second level of grey stone surrounded by 15 elephants. The gilded upper part of the chedi houses a relic. There are 2 viharns, the larger one has an impressive three tiered roof with a Lanna style front decorated with wood carvings. Renovated in the 1920’s, the viharn has a standing Buddha image holding an alms bowl dating back to 1465.
The smaller of the 2 viharns is also Lanna style with entrance stairs guarded by Naga mythical snakes leading to very old but important Buddha images. The Phra Sila Buddha image is a standing Buddha sculpted in Sri Lanka over 1000 years ago. It is believed to hold the power to bring rain making it important to the farmers. Phra Sae Tang Khamani is a small Buddha carved from a quartz crystal, thus giving it the name Crystal Buddha. It is believed to have belonged to the Queen of Haripunchai dating to the 8th century. In the 13th century, the King of Chiang Mai burned Haripuncha and when the Crystal Buddha survived, it was believed to have protective powers.
The ubosot (ordination hall), decorated with beautifully carved wood, dates back to the 19th century. The front stone of the ubosot, dated 1581, records the exact founding date of Chiang Mai – April 12th 1296.
The final structure is the Ho Trai (scripture hall) which is a simple wooden building.
Wat Chiang Yuen
Just outside the old walked center of Chiang Mai is the small temple Chiang Yuen consisting of a viharn, chedi and several small structures. Its founding date is unknown but it is generally believed to be one of Chiang Mai’s oldest temples.
Wat Chiang Yuen translates to temple of long life and was important in the Lanna Kingdom. All of the new Kings of the Lanna Kingdom would come here to pray to the Buddha image asking for good luck and a successful reign before being crowned.
The Wat was abandoned in the late 18th century when the Burmese conquered Chiang Mai and after they were driven out in 1794 the Wat was reconstructed.
As you first enter the Wat, the first thing that can be seen is the very large Buddha image sheltered by a 9 tiered ceremonial umbrella.
The Wats viharn porch is adorned with colorful murals with Buddhist scenes. Large Naga serpents guard the stairway to the entrance. The interior has 2 rows of red lacquered columns and the walls are adorned with murals showing events fro the life of Buddha. At the back is a large golden Buddha image seated in the subduing Mara posture.
Next is the most noticeable structure, its chedi – a massive white structure adorned with golden decorations. White and gold Chinthe are at each corner guarding the chedi. According to ancient chronicles, sacred Buddha relics are enshrined in the chedi.
Between the viharn and chedi stands a small Lanna style sala with beautiful gables and bargeboards. The Sala enshrines a Buddha image. Next to it are 2 decorated poles with Hamsabirds on top.
The Wat is located on Manee Nopparat Road just outside the old walked center of Chiang Mai.
Wat Duang Di
Wat Duang Di translates to “good luck temple”. Dating back to the early 16th century and located in the center of the old walled city, it consists of a viharn, ubosot, Burmese style chedi and a Ho Trai. The date comes from an inscription on one of the Buddha images. There was a renovation completed in 1819.
The viharn is a large building with a multi-tiered roof. It was constructed in Thai and Lanna style during the 19th century.
The ends of the golden bargeboards have Naga serpents and the rooftop is adorned with a golden Chofah or Garuda. Guarding the viharn are a pair of Chinthe (mythical lions). Inside the viharn is the principle Buddha image, seated on a large pedestal and surrounded by several smaller Buddha statues.
next to the viharn is the ubosot. It is a small Lanna style wooden building standing on a store base. The panels on the elaborate front gable are inlayed with colored glass.
The chedi, enclosed by its own low wall, enshrines relics. On each of the 4 corners of the square base stands a statue of an elephant.
The point of interest of the Ho Trai are its gilded wood carvings and stucco decoration. Recently restored, it was originally built in 1829. The building is usually locked but you can still see the fine stucco work of Lanna flower motifs around the entrance and windows.
To visit this Wat, it is located across the road from Wat Inthakin and the Three Kings Monument, close to the center of the old walled city.
Wat Dub Phai
Also known as Dad Phai, this is a smaller temple by the northwest corner of the old walled town and has a viharn, ubosot, chedi and bell tower with a pair of white and gold Chinthe guarding the entrance gate.
Local legend tells of a seriously ill man, centuries ago, who prayed to a Buddha image named Phra Chao Dab Pai and when he recovered be built the Wat giving it the name Wat Dub Phai.
there is a large Lanna style viharn with a 2 tiered roof. Naga heads are at the ends of the golden bargeboards and the stairway has white and gold Naga serpents. The ornate gable is adorned with colorful Lanna style flower motifs. The roof is supported by red columns with elaborate golden motifs. The walls have colorful murals and seated on a raised pedestal is the Wats principle Buddha image in a subduing Mara posture with a mural of a Bodhi tree behind it.
Fenced in behind the viharn is the temples chedi. Resting on a square base and octagonal section of several tiers is the bell topped with a multi-tiered Pathein Htee (Burmese style umbrella). There are several smaller chedis around the fence.
A pair of Naga serpents guard the stairway to the ubosot. Gold on blue Lanna style flower motifs adorn the front gable and colorful murals are on the porch depicting Buddhist stories. There is a Buddha image in the subduing Mara posture seated on a high and elaborate pedestal. On the wall behind it is a mural including a large Bodhi tree. Important events in the Buddha’s life are shown in murals on the walls.
The Wat is located about 400 meters north of Wat Phra Singh.
This is a small, little visited Wat in the center of the old walled town of Chiang Mai. It is an active temple with a vihard, 2 chedis and a kuti. Built over 700 years ago it is also known as Wat Sadue Muang, which translated means “temple of the city naval” referring to its city center location.
The exact age of the Wat is not known but in 1296 King Mengrai of the Lanna Kingdom placed the Chiang Mai City Pillar on the temple grounds. It was not until 1800 that the pillar was moved to Wat Chedi Luang.
Just recently a viharn was built to enshrine the Wats Buddha image which had previously been kept in a simple shed. The viharn is an ornate dark wooden building on a stone base. This Lanna style building has a multi-tiered roof with large boards adorned with Naga serpents, golden chofahon the roof ends, and a front gable decorated in gold colors. Naga serpents guard the entry stairs while ornately decorated pillars support the roof. Enshrined here is the principle Buddha image which was made in 1794 and named Luang Pho Khon.
The oldest structure here are 2 brick chedis. The circular chedi dates back to the 15th century while the octagonal chedi is from the 14th century.
Also on the grounds are the Kuti – monks living quarters.
Finally, there is the Inthakin museum. Here on display are paintings of historical events, various models, old musical instruments, weapons, utensils, pottery and Buddha images.
The Wat is across from the 3 Kings monument and within walking distance from Wat Phra Singh.
Wat Jed Yod
This Wat was built in the 15th century, specifically during the reign of King Tilokkarat of the Lanna Kingdom from 1441 to 1487. The Wat shows many architectural styles including Lanna, Rattana Kosin, Lao, Chinese and Indian. In 1477 the 8th World Buddhist Counsel was held here to discuss the scriptures of Buddhist teachings.
The viharn is the dominate structure and is where the Wat gets its name. Jed Yod means 7 peaks which refers to the 7 chedis on top of the structure. The outer walls are decorated with 70 Theawada figures in different postures. The bas reliefs are sculpted with great detail and while some figures are in very good condition, many others have been damaged or are missing altogether.
Inside the viharn you’ll find a large seated Buddha on a pedestal with a smaller Buddha image in front of it. To one side of the viharn there’s a tunnel like structure enshrining a large sitting Buddha image. Next to the viharn are 2 large gongs with several bells plus the more modern ubosot is to the rear of the viharn.
There are 3 chedis, the largest being of Lanna style and named Phra Chedi has a square shape and a tall spire. It was built in 1487 to enshrine the ashes of King Tilokkarat. The second chedi with a brick base has collapsed while the third with an octagonal shape and multiple levels and is missing its top.
The second viharn is elegant and of Lanna style with a 3 tiered roof with an ornately decorated facade and Naga’s at the stares to guard the entrance. You can also see a large Bodhi tree that is said to have been planted by King Tilokkarat.
The Wat is located 2km northwest from the old walled city.
Wat Ket Karam
there is little information available but it is known that the Wat was built during the Phra Jao Sam Fang Kaen era in 1428. Within the temple area is the Ket Kaew Chua Manee pagoda which is used by locals as a place of worship.
Located beside the Ping River, the grounds also include a museum with exhibits of antiques and old hard to find photo’s telling the story of old Chiang Mai.
Wat Lok Molee
The exact founding date is uncertain but it is generally accepted to date back to the 14th century which makes it one of Chiang Mai’s oldest Wats. One thing is certain, and that is it has one of the largest and most impressive chedis.
The massive chedi was built in 1527 and at the time, dominated the area. Over the years the chedi has been restored many times and today remains in good condition. Sitting on a large square base, each side of the upper part of the chedi has a niche that contains a Buddha image and is flanked on both sides by Theavada figures which are a type of celestial being/ The chedi houses the ashes of several Kings from the Mengrai Dynasty who were the rulers of the Lanna Kingdom from the late 13th century until 1558 when the Burmese invaded the Kingdom.
There was a viharn built at the same time as the chedi however none of the building remains today. The chedi and the brick foundation of the ubosot are the only original structures remaining.
At the end of the 18th century Chiang Mai City was abandoned and the Wat fell into disrepair and was not renovated until the second half of the 20th century.
The viharn at the Wat was built in 2003. It is built in traditional Lanna style and has two large Naga guarding the front entrance. The panels on the front of the viharn have finely sculpted wooden carvings. The large Buddha image is in the seated meditation position.
Also within the Wat is a wooden pavilion and a Kuti.
To get to the Wat – from the north end of the old city, exit through Chang Puak Gate, turn left and go about 400 meters.
Constructed in the mid to later 19th century, this Wat has two styles of buildings. There is a viharn and ubosot built in the Lanna style and then there is a brick viharn and chedi built using Burmese style, plus there is a Ho Trai.
The Lanna style viharn is the main viharn, with its imposing multi-tiered roof, was built in 1865. The ends of the bargeboards have Naga serpents. At the roofs top are chofah, a decorative thin bird, or Garuda. At the stairs to the viharn entrance are 2 white Chinthe guarding the hall. Lanna style wooden panels on the front gable are adorned with detailed carvings of deities and flower motifs in gold on a red background. Large gold lacquered red columns support the roof and to the back of the viharn on a pedestal is the main Buddha image seated in the subduing Mara posture which is surrounded by several smaller Buddha images.
The Lanna style ubosot is next to the viharn. There is an access gate adorned with detailed stuccoed decorations of mythical beings and Lanna flower motifs.
It is fitted with a 2 tiered roof, Nagas adorn the ends of the carved white bargeboards, and the gable is carved with golden flower motifs while the door contains golden flower motifs on a red background.
The Burmese style viharn is a brick building constructed at the end of the 19th century and houses a large seated Burmese style Buddha image.
Behind the Lanna style viharn is an attractive Burmese chedi ornamented with detailed stucco work. This chedi is enclosed by a low wall with large guardian Chinthe in its corners. At the center of each side there is a niche with a standing Buddha image flanked by celestial beings. The top of the viharn has spiral and very ornate Pathein Htee (Burmese style umbrella).
The Ho Trai is a teak building with a multi-tiered roof. Originally the scripture hall, it has been turned into a residence.
To get to Wat Mahawan, from The Phae Gate of the old walled town center, go east for 300 meters. It is opposite Wat Cheatawan.