You haven’t truly been to Chiang Mai until you’ve visited some of its three dozen beautiful Buddhist temples. From Doi Suthep Temple in the mountains outside the city to a clustering of ancient temples within its ancient walls, here are a few of our favorites.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, simply Doi Suthep Temple for short, overlooks Chiang Mai from the mountains just outside of town. It’s considered among the most sacred temples in Northern Thailand—one very much worth the 306-step staircase travelers must climb to get there.
Wat Chedi Luang
Dating back to the early 15th century, Wat Chedi Luang was once the largest structure in Northern Thailand’s Lanna Kingdom. Today, the temple sits partly in ruins thanks to an earthquake that knocked down its 282-foot (86-meter) spire, but visitors can still see its main assembly hall and reclining Buddha statue.
Wat Suan Dok
This 14th-century temple is known for its 157-foot (48-meter) chedi, or Buddhist monument, which towers above the rest of Chiang Mai’s old city and is believed to enshrine a relic from Buddha himself. The temple also hosts meditation workshops and conversation sessions where novice monks practice their English by chatting with tourists about Buddhism and Thai culture.
Wat Phra Singh
The 14th-century Wat Phra Singh ranks among Chiang Mai’s most popular and spectacular temples—an excellent example of Lanna (northern Thai) architecture with a three-tiered roof, intricate goldwork, and an enormous chedi.
Wat Pha Lat
One of Chiang Mai’s least-known temples, Wat Pha Lat sits at the end of the 45-minute Monk’s Trail hike within Doi Suthep National Park. Surrounded by forest, the temple grounds include an old chedi and a grotto filled with images of the Buddha.