Chiang Mai, Cultural City of Buddhism.
Updated: Jul 28, 2022
The city is brimming with culture, incredible food markets, dozens of beautiful temples, a relaxed vibe, beautiful landscapes. Personally, Buddhism is one of the main reasons why Thailand has such a great vibe.
One beautiful temple after another looms from the horizon. In addition, you also see the faith clearly reflected in the people, people have great respect for nature, something that appeals to us enormously.Since there are a lot of temples to see in and around the city, we recommend that you only visit the most beautiful. To get you started, here are our top 3 temples.
Number 1, Wat Pha Lat:
For us, this temple is 100% number 1. Mainly because it is not only a beautiful temple, but certainly because this temple merges beautifully with nature. A bit like the world famous temples in Cambodia. Beautiful temple buildings surrounded by tall trees and flowing rivers make the atmosphere wonderfully pleasant. In addition, there are beautiful animals to see such as huge spiders and we even saw a praying mantis.
For us this is not only Chiang Mai's number 1 but even one of the best temples in the world. A wonder why most tourists drive straight past here on their way to our number 2. The temple is free to visit, but it is always good to make a donation to the monks who maintain the temple.
Number 2, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep:
Our number 2 is without a doubt the most popular temple among tourists, and we understand why. About 15 kilometers from Chiang Mai through a beautiful winding road up the mountain (Doi Suthep) you reach the steps of the temple.
The staircase with 309 steps already betrays that it is a special place.
The temple is located at a height of 1073 meters and gives you a beautiful view over the city of Chiang Mai. We rather enjoyed all the splendor of this temple, gold as far as the eye can see. The first stupa of the temple dates from 1383, a very special thing that people already managed to build back then. The entrance fee for foreigners will be 100 Thai Baht in 2022, but this is definitely worth it.
Number 3, Wat Chedi Luang:
Wat chedi Luang is located in the middle of the old center of Chiang Mai, and is definitely worth a visit. Wat Chedi Luang means "Temple of the Great Chedi" or "Temple of the Great Sanctuary (stupa). The temple was founded in the 14th century and completed mid 15th century. After this, there have been some restorations due to damage, including earthquakes.
The centerpiece of the temple consists of the 80 meter high stupa surrounded by several smaller temple complexes. It is great that a structure such as this forms the center of the city. It is recommended to participate in the monk talk, this gives you the opportunity to learn a lot about this beautiful faith and the motivations of the monks. Entrance fee is usually 40 Thai Baht, but since no one was there, this time for free.
The temples are a highlight, but Chiang Mai has much more to offer:
In recent years, it’s become one of the main digital nomad hubs in Southeast Asia so it’s easy to meet other travelers here. There are hostels, many types of restaurants, bars and even some clubs. For us the best place in Chiang Mai is the old city with its beautiful city walls and nice streets.
Outside the city walls there are also some large malls to visit with many dining options and cinemas. Another recommendation is Nimmana Haeminda road, the hippest street in the city. We liked the shopping center "One Nimman" here the most. After all, there is a nice market going on every day of the week, the nice thing is that every time in a different location you can discover new delicacies every time.
Another tourist attractions are the Karen longneck tribe, but this is somewhat controversial as the inhabitants are from Mianmar and therefore do not enjoy all the freedoms that the Thai inhabitants have, so we skipped this.
Then you have the Canyons for a day of water fun. And finally, we recommend that you rent a motorbike or scooter and explore the city and surrounding nature on your own, beautiful roads and views make this one of our favorite day activities.
Chiang Mai is easy to reach from Bangkok or other cities by night train or luxury sleeper bus. Can be booked with, for example the 12Go app, or directly from the station.