Chiang Mai - Religious Sites

Religious Sites

Chiang Mai has over 300 Buddhist temples (called "wat" in Thai). These include:

  • Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, the city's most famous temple, stands on Doi Suthep, a hill to the north-west of the city. This temple dates from 1383.
  • Wat Chiang Man, the oldest temple in Chiang Mai, dates from the 13th century. King Mengrai lived here during the construction of the city. This temple houses two important and venerated Buddha figures, the marble Phra Sila and the crystal Phra Satang Man.
  • Wat Phra Singh is located within the city walls, dates from 1345 and offers an example of classic northern Thai style architecture. It houses the Phra Singh Buddha, a highly venerated figure brought here many years ago from Chiang Rai.
  • Wat Chedi Luang was founded in 1401 and is dominated by a large Lanna style chedi which took many years to finish. An earthquake damaged the chedi in the 16th century and only two-thirds of it remains.
  • Wat Ku Tao in the city's Chang Phuak District dates from (at least) the 13th century and is distinguished by an unusual alms bowl-shaped stupa thought to contain the ashes of King Nawrathaminsaw, Chiang Mai's first Burmese ruler.
  • Wat Chet Yot is located on the outskirts of the city. Built in 1455, the temple hosted the Eighth World Buddhist Council in 1977.
  • Wiang Kum Kam is at the site of an old city on the southern outskirts of Chiang Mai. King Mengrai lived there for ten years before the founding of Chiang Mai. The site includes many ruined temples.
  • Wat Umong is a forest and cave wat in the foothills in the west of the city, near Chiang Mai University. Wat U-Mong is known for its fasting Buddha, representing the Buddha at the end of his long and fruitless fasting period before he gained enlightenment.
  • Wat RamPoeng (Tapotaram), near Wat U-Mong, is known for its meditation center (Northern Insight Meditation Center). The temple teaches the traditional vipassana technique and students stay from 10 days to more than a month as they try to meditate at least 10 hours a day. Wat RamPoeng houses the largest collection of Tipitaka, the complete Theravada canon, in several Northern dialects.
  • Wat Suan Dok is a 14th century temple located just west of the old city-wall. It was built by the king for a revered monk visiting from Sukhothai for the rains retreat. The temple is also the site of Mahachulalongkorn Rajavidyalaya Buddhist University, where monks pursue their studies.
  • "First Church", Chiang Mai, was founded in 1868 by the Laos Mission of the Rev. Daniel and Mrs. Sophia McGilvary. Chiang Mai has about 20 Christian churches Chiang Mai is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Chiang Mai.
  • Muslim traders have been travelling to north Thailand for many centuries, and a small settled presence has existed in Chiang Mai from at least the middle of the 19th century. The city has mosques identified with Chinese or Chin Haw Muslims as well as Muslims of Bengali, Pathan and Malay descent. In 2011, there were 16 mosques in the city.
  • Two gurdwaras (Sikh Temples) serve the city's Sikh community, Siri Guru Singh Sabha and Namdhari Sikh Temples.
  • Hindu temple Devi Mandir serves the Hindu community.

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    If the religious spirit be ever mentioned in any historical narration, we are sure to meet afterwards with a detail of the miseries which attend it. And no period of time can be happier or more prosperous, than those in which it is never regarded or heard of.
    David Hume (1711–1776)