Photo: A spectacular sight.

Wat Chedi Luang

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Built in the 14th and 15th centuries, Chedi Luang means “royal chedi” in Thai and this was the official temple of the Lanna kings.





Wat Chedi Luang rivals Wat Phra Singh for the title of Chiang Mai’s most important and prestigious city temple. While it comes a definite second for local visitors, the two temples are probably neck and neck in terms of foreign tourists, though for sheer size Wat Chedi Luang has no competition.

Must have been spectacular back in the day. Photo taken in or around Wat Chedi Luang, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Must have been spectacular back in the day. Photo: Mark Ord

This royal chedi was the official temple of the Lanna kings, situated adjacent to the former royal palace. Construction began during the reign of King Saen Muang Ma in the 14th century ostensibly to house the ashes of his father, but he died before it was finished and it wasn’t till the mid 15th century that it was completed. The pinnacle of the chedi was thought to have reached more than 80 metres high.

In 1468, Thailand’s most revered religious object, the Emerald Buddha, was moved to Chedi Luang from Lampang, remaining on site until 1552 when it was moved to Luang Prabang in Laos. (A replica gifted by Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej is now on display in its place.) By then a large earthquake had substantially damaged the chedi, lopping 20-30 metres off the overall height.

Reclining Buddha all rugged up for cool season. Photo taken in or around Wat Chedi Luang, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Reclining Buddha all rugged up for cool season. Photo: Mark Ord

In the 1990s a UNESCO- and Japanese-funded restoration project got underway. This stabilised the site, but they stopped short (thankfully) of tackling the missing summit and spire as no-one is sure what it was supposed to look like.

Today, the partially ruined chedi remains enormous and must have been breathtaking before invaders and earthquakes took their toll. Indeed the main viharn is so big we couldn’t get it all in a photo (at least, without a wide-angle lens). It must be said though that the temple grounds are not as spacious as Wat Phra Singh’s so, as well as it being tricky to get an overall view of, it does lack the latter’s ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Wat Chedi Luang
Phrapokklao Rd, next door to Wat Pan Tao and a short walk from Wat Phra Singh
Mo–Su: 05:00–23:30
Admission: Free

Location map for Wat Chedi Luang

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