Small but charming
Wat Pan Tao is not one of Chiang Mai’s most famous wats but this small temple with its very attractive teak viharn is well worth a peek.
Conveniently located next door to prestigious Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Pan Tao was originally built as an ancillary temple to the royal temple next door, thus having a similar late 14th century date to it, making it one of the oldest sites still standing today in Chiang Mai city.
The delightful teak viharn itself was constructed at the end of the 19th century out of recycled wood from the nearby royal palace. A new king coming to the throne generally preferred to build his own palace, so predecessors’ ones were frequently dismantled, leaving a lot of spare teak lying around.
The small temple grounds are free of monk chats, massages, touts, coffee shops and souvenir stalls, but do have a very attractive, albeit tiny, garden that the monks have obviously put a lot of work into. A raised bamboo walkway, lined with flags and bells, leads you down one side of the grounds affording views over to the teak hall.
There’s a famous peacock carving over the main door and a large seated Buddha image in the viharn. What we found most interesting, and photogenic, were some of the temple accessories, so to speak, scattered around the edge of the complex: the attractive old monks’ quarters, a 200-year-old bodhi tree and an array of old bells.
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Chiang Mai