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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Chiang Rai Temples and Wats – A Temple Hoppers Paradise
Joanna James Joanna James
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Chiang Rai Temples and Wats – A Temple Hoppers Paradise

Chiang Rai was the capital of Lanna, a kingdom that used to occupy the upper northern part of Thailand which has many wonderous temples; here are some of the temples you should visit.


Wat Phra Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew, located at the centre of the Chiang Rai was the original home of the Emerald Buddha which according to legend was re-discovered when the stupa (Jedi) floor was struck by a bolt of lightning revealing the statue inside.

The temple premises have a small two-story informative museum which has several images that depict the jade and Buddha, a variety of artefacts and a building near the rear of the Wat houses a replica of the Emerald Buddha 1mm shorter than the original. The original was moved to the grounds of the Royal Palace of Bangkok where its housed in a temple with the same name.


Wat Phra Singh

Wat Phra is Singh located on Tha Luang Road was originally built using classic Lanna style by King Pra Chao Maha Proma during the 15th century and has been restored several times since then.

The Wat Phra Singh was home to a famous image called the famous Phra Phuttha Sing which is believed to have been brought during the Sukhothai period from Sri Lanka. Similar to Wat Phra Kaew, the temple now displays a replica instead of the original which is stored in Chiang Mai. The Ubsot and the wooden door panel was carved by contemporary craftsman of Chiang Rai and in addition to the statues of Gold, Ebony and Purple Jade Buddha the Wat Pra Singh also shows some interesting Buddha images under the sacred Bodhi trees.

Wat Pra Singh is also a well-known monastery for its Pali language teachers.


Wat Ming Muang

The Wat Ming Muang, located on Trirat Road on central Chiang Rai was built in 1262 by King Mengrai The Great. Queen Devi Usapayako, His wife, who frequently visited the temple to worship the main Buddha statue which is enshrined inside the temple's wooden vihara ordered its first renovation. The assembly hall of Watt Ming Muang has a unique design called the "Buddha's eyebrows" and was also frequented by King Mengari during the full moon night of Visaka as his mother's ashes were stored in this temple.


Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong

Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong was home to local spirits and a sacred site for a very long time before Buddhism arrived in the area.

As per the Yonok Chronicle, the That or Chedi was originally built by Phraya Ruen Kaew, Prince of Chiang Rai in 940 to house one-third part of Lord Buddha's relics. The relics were originally acquired by Prince Pangkaraj of Yonok Nakpan who divided the other 2 parts amongst Wat Phra That Chomkitti and Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong.

Located in the northwest of Chiang Rai, hotels nearby like the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort recommend this temple as a must-see attraction as it offers a beautiful view of the nearby chedi towers, greenery and hills.


Wat Rong Khun

Wat Rong Khun or the White Temple was designed by a well-known architect named Chalermchai Kositpipat. This magnificent temple has kept on evolving over the last decade and is estimated to take around 90 years to complete. Chalermchai trained a large group of people to complete his vision and legacy and the construction of this temple will continue long after his death.

The Phra Ubosot, a beautiful white ordination hall has several large paintings of the Lord Buddha in different poses is decorated with glittering pieces of mirrors. There are small halls for recitation (viharn) surrounding the reception pavilion, ordination hall and museum.