Wat Phra Singh's principal entrance is situated down a small side street off Singhaklai Road – walk by the peach painted walls until you see the ornate white gateway.
Directly ahead of you is the main worshipping hall with its elaborate tiered roof, constructed, it’s thought, in 1385 and which is regarded as a fine example of Chiang Saen style architecture. It used to house the prestigious Phra Buddha Sihing image, hence the name, which has since been transferred to the temple of the same name in Chiang Mai. Check out the glorious crimson and gold painted interior of the hall. The current seated Buddha image is apparently a copy of the original.
Elsewhere in the small but attractive temple complex look out for the spectacular gold leaf clad, main chedi with its guardian lions and the large bodhi tree, (ficus religiosa), surrounded by eight Buddha images corresponding to the days of the week. (Wednesday’s are split into afternoon and morning in the Theravada calendar.) While this is a shady spot with trees and a well tended garden, 15 minutes or so is sufficient to explore the small compound. It could easily be combined with a visit to the large and lively municipal market just down the street.
Before you enter Wat Phra Singh, check out the old, pale yellow painted and recently restored Chiang Rai city hall opposite. It is a fantastic old building and when we enquired in the TAT office across the road, they admitted they weren’t sure what it would be used for. Since the city lacks a municipal museum then this would seem to fit the bill perfectly!
By Mark Ord.
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