Essential temples

Essential temples

Our pick of the crop

More on Chiang Mai

The sheer number of Chiang Mai’s ancient Buddhist temples, or wats, can be overwhelming for visitors. Here's our take on the highlights of the city’s temple scene.

Travelfish says:
Classic rooflines at Wat Phra Singh. Photo by: Mark Ord.
Classic rooflines at Wat Phra Singh. Photo: Mark Ord

The biggies It’s a toss-up between Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Singh when it comes to naming Chiang Mai’s most important temple. If you’re only going to see two downtown wats, these are the ones to make a beeline for. They are the most popular among visitors, so be aware of touts and unofficial guides at both of these busy Old City temples.

Wat Chedi Luang was the old royal temple of the Chiang Mai kings. Check out the spectacular 700-year-old partially ruined, partially restored chedi that gives the wat its name as well as the classic Lanna-style worshipping hall and a lovely old reclining Buddha image. Wat Chedi Luang is also conveniently close to the city’s museum district. Exiting Chedi Luang, turn immediately left, then left again on Ratchadamneon, and you’ll reach Wat Phra Singh. Popular among locals and tourists alike, its central location makes it a good choice for a Sunday afternoon visit as it can be combined with a late afternoon stroll down the adjacent walking ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 800 words.)

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Reviewed by

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.

Tours in Thailand



Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Chiang Mai

Flight of the Gibbon
Flight of the Gibbon

Very popular and for good reason

Chiang Mai Sunday Walking Street Market
Chiang Mai Sunday Walking Street Market

Good shopping, snacking and people watching

Doi Suthep and Doi Pui
Doi Suthep and Doi Pui

A national park on Chiang Mai's doorstep

Lanna Folklife Museum
Lanna Folklife Museum

Well worth a peek

Wat Chiang Man
Wat Chiang Man

Chiang Mai's oldest wat (probably)

Wat Phra Singh
Wat Phra Singh

Chiang Mai’s most prestigious temple

Three days in Chiang Mai
Three days in Chiang Mai

Take in the highlights

Don Phayam Market
Don Phayam Market

The quintessential Chiang Mai market

Chiang Mai Zoo
Chiang Mai Zoo

Arguably Thailand's best

Saturday Walking Street Market (Wualai)
Saturday Walking Street Market (Wualai)

Like the Sunday one, but better