For us, westerners, seeing golden temples of Chiang Mai merging with the everyday life in Thailand is something incredible. Shiny roofs, bright façade colours and detailed ornaments never fail to impress. And even when you think you’ve seen it all, the extraordinary temples will still draw your eye once again and lure you in through the gate promising something unseen.
Temples of Chiang Mai
When choosing the best area to stay in Chiang Mai, remember to check what’s there to do and see in your local area. The city is packed full with fun stuff to explore, good food to eat and best coffee to drink.
But if you are after a chilled day, make your way to the gated old town to feast your eyes on gorgeous northern Thai architecture. You can select temples you want to visit beforehand, or simply pop into most of the temples of Chiang Mai along the road, like we did.
But also have some chilled time in between. Maybe pop into one or two coffee houses? Chiang Mai, after all, is known as the coffee mecca in Thailand. Some of our favourites include Akha Ama Coffee in the old town and the elegant Raming Tea House.
If you’d like to see a full video of the temples of Chiang Mai that we visited (under 3 minutes) then click below to watch.
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Wat Fon Soi – Well Worth a Visit
Wat Fon Soi was the first temple we visited. I was drawn by its roof peeking through the pretty gate. It’s a small temple, but its exterior kept me captivated for a while. I loved the hundreds of thousands of sparkly details encrusted into the the red walls which created a perfect backdrop for all the golden decorations. Despite being by the main road, it felt peaceful once on the grounds of the temple.
Admission fee: free
Wat Fon Soi on Google Maps:
Wat Jetlin – Customise Your Own Tile
Located on the Prapokkloa Road, Wat Jetlin felt very peaceful. It seemed as if this place is overlooked by visitors. Maybe because of the construction work taking place by the pond. When we investigated the construction site late, it looked like the monks were building something like a cloister by the pond.
The cool thing about it was the pile of tiles next to the site. If you make a donation of 10 THB per tile (or more if you feel generous), you can write your name on it with a marker and your customised tile will be (hopefully) incorporated into the building. It would be interesting to go back and see where ‘The Stamps” tile ended up.
What impressed me the most about this place was the bamboo tunnel taking you across the pond into a peaceful monk residence. The colourful ribbons along both sides of the tunnel created a chilled and somewhat magical atmosphere.
Admission fee: free
Wat Jetlin on Google Maps:
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Wat Chedi Luang – One of the Tallest Structures in Ancient Chiang Mai
We spent quite some time at Wat Chedi Luang. Located in central Chiang Mai, it’s quite a big site with a few things to see like the impressive ancient temple with the stone elephant statues, praying hall and a reclining Buddha.
It is also a place to be if you want to have a ‘monk chat’ where you can sit down with a monk and ask questions about Buddhism in exchange for some English practice for them.
The golden interior of Wat Chedi Luang is the most impressive. The gold colonnades soar to the sky framing the standing Buddha surrounded by a number of sitting Buddha statues. Quite breathtaking.
The glorious ancient temple was partially restored in 1990 by the joint effort of the UNESCO and the Japanese government. All but one of the elephant statues are restored. One of the poor elephants is missing its trunk.
The temple is very atmospheric and the stone snake head statues make it look somewhat spooky. Make your way here just before sunset to see the temples covered in soothing sunset colours.
Opening hours: 6am-6pm
Admission fee: free
Wat Chedi Luang on Google Maps:
Wat Phan Tao – a Personal Favourite
Don’t miss out this beautiful site. I’m not trying to be bias, but this is definitely my favourite building in Chiang Mai. I just loved the dark wood exterior and especially the impressive ornament above the entrance. The interior of this monastery is spacious with golden ribbons floating in the air, making the space chilled and inviting.
I loved the donation bowls inside the temple. I don’t know exactly what the deal is, but looks like each bowl belongs to a monk. People make donations by choosing any pot that way raising money for monks essential items.
Walking amongst the blooming flowers, lanterns, bells and flags flapping in the air was great. I really recommend a visit to this beautiful site.
Opening hours: 6.am-6.pm
Admission fee: free
Wat Phan Tao on Google Maps:
Wat Phra Singh – One of the Most Cherished Temples in Chiang Mai
This is the most respected temple in Chiang Mai so dress modestly for the visit. A chapel called Wihan Lai Kham houses the famous Buddha image Phra Singh (Lion Buddha). If you time it well, you might be lucky to see the monks of all ages praying peacefully in the open praying hall.
Opening hours: 5 am- 8.30pm
Admission fee: 20 THB
Wat Phra Singh on Google Maps:
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Check out our Chiang Mai Golden Temples walk on gpsmycity.com.
Have you visited any of the above temples in Chiang Mai? Which one was your favourite? Let us know in the comments below…
Wow great Chiang Mai photos and temple guide. How long would you say you need to be in Chiang Mai to cover all the highlights?
Hey Andy, glad you like the post. I’d say you’ll cover everything at a casual pace in 1 week, including a couple of trips out of town to hike in the surrounding hills. For just the center 3/4 days will be enough. Hope that helps 🙂 Charlie.
Great resource! We won’t be there for a while, but we’re Pinning this for when we do go!