If you only see one temple during your time in Chiang Mai, Wat Phra Singh (also known as Wat Phra Singh Woramahawihan) should be it. Set in the heart of the old city, the temple was founded in 1345 and is home to Chiang Mai’s most sacred relic—the Phra Singh, an image of the Lion Buddha housed within a golden shrine.
Wat Phra Singh consists of many buildings, but the most spectacular is the golden wihan that houses the Phra Singh. Look for classic Lanna architectural features like the three-tiered roof, white chedi (stupa) with an octagonal base, and lion statues guarding the entrance.
As one of the city’s most important Buddhist sites, the temple features on most sightseeing tours of Chiang Mai, along with other notable attractions like Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Suan Dok, the Chiang Mai National Museum, and Doi Suthep. Those with a particular interest in Buddhism in Thailand can visit the complex as part of a temple tour through town, while active travelers might want to opt for a cycling tour that stops at the temple.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wat Phra Singh is a must-see for all first-time visitors to Chiang Mai.
- You’ll be asked to remove your shoes before entering to see the Buddha statue.
- Remember to dress respectfully, as this is an active place of worship.
How to Get There
Wat Phra Singh is located inside Chiang Mai’s old city walls at the end of Ratchadamnoen Road. It’s easy to walk to if you’re staying within the old city, but if you’re coming from farther afield, a tuk-tuk is your best bet.
When to Get There
The temple is open daily throughout the year, but the best time to visit is early in the morning when the grounds are peaceful and the resident monks are going about their morning routines.
The Monks of Wat Phra Singh
Wat Phra Singh is an active temple, and lucky visitors may see chanting monks or a blessing ceremony. Many novice monks study here and are happy to practice their English by sitting and chatting with tourists in the temple gardens.