Photo: Wat Pha Daeng: Some work required.

Lost chedis of Chiang Mai

3.5 1

If you’ve spent any time in Chiang Mai you can’t help but have noticed the ubiquitous brick chedis, or stupas, liberally scattered around the city.

We don’t mean ones within existing temple complexes but the solitary towers you see out of the corner of your eye; by the side of a back lane, far end of a car-park, stuck on a piece of waste ground; some crumbling and others, particularly those on the grounds of government buildings for instance, well maintained.

At Wat Suan Dok. Photo taken in or around Lost chedis of Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

At Wat Suan Dok. Photo: Mark Ord

Examples of the latter are the one at the moat corner of Suan Dok Road, another in the grounds of the Arts and Culture Museum and a recently restored one in the car-park of Imperial Mae Ping Hotel. Good examples of the former would be the crumbling ruin down a narrow alley to the side of Chiang Mai Ram Hospital or an unnamed one on Changlor, the south moat road, near the turn-off for Wualai.

Many of these sadly overlooked ruins are historically significant sites dating back to the 14th century and generally represent the site of former, long since abandoned temples. The Chiang Mai Ram one for instance is all that’s left of Wat Pan Sat while the Mae Ping car-park chedi indicates the location of forgotten Wat Chongkhong. It’s a bit like the Angkor syndrome where there’s so many spectacular old ruins the smaller ones get forgotten about and some of Chiang Mai’s 700 year old piles of bricks could be tourist sites in their own right in a different context.

At the base of Chedi Nom Long. Photo taken in or around Lost chedis of Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

At the base of Chedi Nom Long. Photo: Mark Ord

Ok a pile of bricks is a pile of bricks but what impresses is the extent and sheer volume of these sites giving an indication in turn of the extent of the ancient city and the number of its religious sites. Obviously in the 14th and 15th centuries Chiang Mai had both a far smaller population and a far greater number of temples.

A couple more strategically placed ones you may well pass by are; a Burmese style chedi outside the US embassy—now a roundabout—and another at the crossroads of Ratchamanka and Phrapokklao Roads in the Old City. The first is hardly hidden but you can’t help but feel its original purpose has been lost and the priest or VIP whose ashes are enshrined within must be turning in his stupa as Toyotas and tuk tuks turn around him.

The chedi still towers above at Wat Pha Daeng. Photo taken in or around Lost chedis of Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

The chedi still towers above at Wat Pha Daeng. Photo: Mark Ord

Some are perhaps beyond repair—others are regularly maintained but next time you walk or ride past one spare a thought and some—when the light is good—are worth a photo stop.

Best places to stay in Chiang Mai

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Chiang Mai.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Chiang Mai.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Chiang Mai.
 Check out our listings of other things to do in and around Chiang Mai.
 Read up on how to get to Chiang Mai, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Chiang Mai? Please read this.

Best Thailand tours

 Browse tours in Thailand on


Like what you see? Then you’ll love our newsletter

The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.

See below for more sights and activities in Chiang Mai that are listed on

Top of page