The oldest Temple in Chiang Mai

Wat Chiang Man

Wat Chiang Man is the oldest Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai, the ancient city in northern Thailand. The temple was built in the year 1296 by Phaya Mengrai, who was the city’s founder. He made the temple to complete the newly formed city that served as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom.

The temple from that day onwards is considered to be the landmark of the city, its history and an archive that holds several scriptures and Buddha images that surfaced over the years. 

Thailand has many Buddhist temples all around the island, but Wat Chiang Wan is very popular and cherished amongst the lot for its age, sacredness and most importantly, its structure, which is distinct, nuanced and exquisite.

For this sole purpose (mostly), tourists make their goal to witness this temple during their trip, and they most definitely should, for this is the epitome of Thai craftsmanship, dedication and spiritual inclination.


Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai


The structural breakdown of Wat Chiang Man


The Chedi, also known as the Buddhist Stupa, is one of the oldest structures of this temple in Chiang Mai. This mound-like hemispherical structure holds the most valuable relics of the island and Buddhism.

This particular Chedi pays homage to Lanna and Singhalese styles and is named after Chang Lom Chedi, an elephant statue that sits at the base supporting other structural levels. The second level of Chedi is surrounded by 15 elephants, and they are positioned in a manner that it appears that they are emerging from it. At the top, a glided part sits that contains the relic chamber of the temple.


Elephant Statues in Wat Chiang Man



A viharn is a part of a Buddhist temple that has living quarters and serves as a residential space as well as a meditation chamber for the monks. Wat Chiang Man has two Viharns.

The Large Viharn is a three-tiered building, build in Lanna style and decorated with wood carvings in gold and ochre colors. Many old Buddhist images grace this Viharn, such as Standing Buddha with alms bowl that dates back to 1465. The large viharn is often renovated, but it was established originally in the 1920s by Monk Khru Ba Sricichai.

The small Viharn of this temple in Chiang Mai is also built-in Lanna style and works as an archive room, housing two of the oldest and important Buddha images; Phra Sila Buddha image (that plays a vital role in the Songkran festival) and Phra Sae Tang Khamani (a small Buddha image made from quartz crystal believed to be having protection powers). The two images are kept at Ku, a throne-like structure to honour and protect the images. And to further protect these painting, the entrance is guarded by contains Nagas (snakes).


The Large Viharn of Wat Chiang Man



The ubosot is an ordination hall that was constructed in the 19th century at the Wat Chiang Man. The front of the hall is beautifully decorated with carved wooden details painted in ochre colors complemented by a stone stele that dates back to 1581 and elevates the whole ubosot extensively.


The Ho Trai is a Buddhist scripture library of this temple in Chiang Mai; despite the relatively small size, it has a strong, attractive wooden frame with a white stone base to protect the scriptures from any natural hazard.

How to reach Wat Chiang Man

This Buddhist temple operates daily from 6 am till 5 pm and accommodates more than 2000 people per day. As mentioned, this old temple is situated at a corner of Chiang Mai, between Phra Pok Klao 13 road and Ratchaphakhinai 1 road at a distance of 200 meters. Ideally, a minibus or a taxi is advised, but a Tuk-Tuk can be hired too. It is suggested to book the preferred commute option beforehand to be timely and avoid any fare issues.

All in all, touring Wat Chiang Man is a great recreational activity that offers a peaceful ambience, positive inclination, interesting historical stories, exquisite artistry and a great experience.