Photo: No shortage of bells.

Wat Phra Kaew

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Wat Phra Kaew is the most highly revered wat in Chiang Rai and, with its decent little museum and attractive grounds, probably also the most interesting to the casual visitor.

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Originally known as Wat Pa Yeah, (Temple of the Bamboo Grove), no-one is actually sure of its founding date but it has been around for a while since legend has it that in 1434 its stupa was struck by lightning and fell apart to reveal a concealed, emerald Buddha image. (Phra Kaew means green, or emerald, Buddha in the Thai language).

Just lovely. Photo taken in or around Wat Phra Kaew, Chiang Rai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Just lovely. Photo: Mark Ord

The story of the jade figure is a convoluted one. It is said to have been originally sculpted in India in 234 BCE and found its way via Sri Lanka to Angkor from where it was taken as loot by the Siamese to eventually finish in Kamphaeng Phet. In the 14th century the king of Chiang Rai somehow got his hands on it and moved it back to his hometown and installed it in what is today Wat Phra Kaew though not before, for reasons best known to himself, having it covered in stucco. It appears it was then more or less forgotten about until the aforementioned lightning strike in 1434.

The Buddha then went on a second odyssey—this time around northern Thailand—before finishing its days in its current location in Bangkok in the temple of the same name. A replica was made from Canadian jade in celebration of the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday which is the one you’ll see displayed at this site today. With its tiny but lush gardens and large stands of bamboo, Wat Phra Kaew comes with peaceful and picturesque grounds while at the base of the enclosure that holds the jade replica there’s even a pond playing host to ... Travelfish members only (Around 400 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Wat Phra Kaew
Tri Rat Road across from Overbrooke Hospital.
Mo–Su: 07:00–18:00 Museum: Mo–Su: 09:00–17:00
T: (053) 711 385 
Admission: Free

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


What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Chiang Rai.
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 Read up on where to eat on Chiang Rai.
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