Wat Suan Dok’s brilliant golden spire stretches high into the skyline of the northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai and has done so just west of the old city walls since the 14th century. The name roughly translates to "field of flowers," as the temple stands on a site that was once the garden of a ruling monarch. Today, the ashes of some of the royal family are tucked into the wat’s spires, as homage to leaders past.
Wat Suan Dok is a favorite among travelers, particularly photographers, who gather amid the temple’s ornate structures during sunrise and sunset to capture impressive photos filled with rose-colored light. A 500-year-old bronze buddha—one of the largest in the region—also makes this a popular stop.
Aside from the structure itself, there is a Buddhist university at the site as well. Monks in training are often eager to share conversation and practice their English with visitors in informal "monk chats."
The temple is located on Suthep Road, a half-mile (one kilometer) west of the Suan Dok Gate, west of the Old City of Chiang Mai. Monk chats are held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening from 5 to 7 p.m. Also offered are 24-hour meditation retreats on Tuesdays.