A Look at Some of the Best Temples in Chiang Mai


Chiang Mai is home to 24 Buddhist temples, according to Wikipedia. But Wikipedia also says that I’m the spitting image of Zac Effron, so it can hardly be trusted.

From walking around Chiang Mai I can say with confidence that there are far more than 24 Buddhist temples, within Old City itself, let alone the rest of Chiang Mai. If you want to learn more about Chiang Mai then see my Chiang Mai travel guide.

With so many temples you probably want to know what the best temples in Chiang Mai are. I visited 13 of them in my time there, and will attempt to rate them for you.

Of course listing the best temples in Chiang Mai is a purely subjective activity, but I think the general order of them will be pretty similar for the majority of people, especially the top 5.

NOTE: “Chedi” is the dome like structure, often hexagonal, with a spire at the top. They are brick construction but sometimes covered in gold and they have little alcoves to hold religious relics and statues.

Best Temples in Chiang Mai Video

How I Define the Best Temples in Chiang Mai


For me, it is obviously largely based on the impression it left on me when I was visiting the temple. This comes down to lots of things like: size, grandeur, design and beauty.

This is why rating the best temples in Chiang Mai is largely subjective, because of the beauty aspect. Everybody will have different opinions, with the help of some photos you can make up your own mind.

For this blog I have split them into two different groups;

  • The 6 temples that I don’t think are worth your time.
  • The 7 temples that are worth looking at.

If you are here in Chiang Mai specifically to see the temples, then I would consider all of these worth a visit. The list of temples that aren’t worth your time is an assumption for the average tourist, who will only want to see a few temples without being overloaded.

Seeing too many temples can dull the enjoyment after a while, so by visiting only the best on offer, hopefully each will bring more joy and awe.

Where Are the Best Temples in Chiang Mai?


The majority of the temples can be found inside the Old City walls, in fact 11 of the 13 listed here are found within Chiang Mai Old City.

The other two are to the west of Old City, up in the mountains that surround Chiang Mai. These are the only two temples on this list that you will not be able to walk to if your accommodation is in Chiang Mai Old City.

The map below is a little crowded, but it gives you an idea of the density of temples within Chiang Mai’s walls. There are even more than the 11 that I visited inside the walls.

a map showing the best temples in chiang mai

Affiliate links may be present on this page. These are links to websites such as Amazon, where if you decide to purchase something, then they will offer me a tiny commission. This comes at no extra cost to you and is just a way for me to try and support myself and the blog. I only link to the best of the best with careful consideration, thank you.

The Best Temples in Chiang Mai: 13 – 8 (Don’t go Out of Your Way)


These are the temples that I wouldn’t go out of my way to see. I walked in to them as I was doing the rounds in Chinag Mai Old City, all of these temples in this section are free to enter.

This isn’t to say I hated them, it just isn’t something I would say you should go out of your way to visit. They are a little bit smaller, there is less to capture your imagination, and you will hardly be telling friends about them.

By all means still enter them if you happen to be passing by, but don’t expect to be blown away.

#13 Wat Umong Mahathera Chan


This is the Wat Umong Mahathera Chan that sits within the Old City walls. It has an old stone chedi that is 700 years old and in need of repair. Then there is a larger, newer brick chedi as well.

There is another “Wat Umong” out west of Old City. The reason that this temple has the word “umong” is because there was a tunnel linking the chedi to the main building.

The green snakes that decorate the edges of the entrance building are very nicely done and different to what I have seen at other temples in Old City.

Open from 06:00 – 19:00

(Shot with the Sony A7R III using the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4).

#12 Wat Chang Taem


Very little of interest here for tourists, but it does hold a Buddhist statue that is over 1000 years old.

It has a small chedi out the back with a golden tip and the main building is nice enough. You will find it right next to Wat Chet Lin and Wat Muen Tum in Old City.

Open from 06:00 – 19:00

(Shot with the Sony A7R III using the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4).

#11 Wat Pan Ping


Quite a small little temple ground with a golden chedi out the back. You might see this from the road and decided to have a quick look around.

Not worth going out of your way for, this is another that you could finish in 5-10 minutes due to its small size.

The temple was built in 1581.

Open from 06:00 – 19:00

(Shot with the Sony A7R III using the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4).

#10 Wat Dab Pai


Wat Dab Pai is probably not as interesting as some of the other grounds but the way the blue glass was worked through the gold on the main building drew me in big time.

This one building I found to be soothing to look at, besides that there is a golden chedi around the back, the grounds are quite small.


Open from 06:00 – 18:00

(Shot with the Sony A7R III using the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4).

#9 Wat Phan On


Come here if you like gold. There is a large golden chedi that is quite impressive to look at. I personally don’t like gold too much but the size of it will make you take notice.

This temple also has a very large interior section that is decorated completely end to end. There are paintings on the walls and the normal Buddha statues that are common place facing the entrance.

Open from 06:00 – 20:00

(Shot with the Sony A7R III using the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4).

#8 Wat Muen Tum


This temple is found in the southeast corner of Old City. Its best features in my opinion are the outside, with some of the designs on the gate being very nice.

Inside the grounds there isn’t too much of interest, but if you are passing by it will not take you any longer than 10 minutes to walk around and see everything.

Open from 05:00 – 21:00

(Shot with the Sony A7R III using the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4).

The Best Temples in Chiang Mai: 7 – 1 (Definitely Worth Visiting)


Below are some of the more impressive temples in Chiang Mai. These are the temples that I remember a lot more clearly. In fact, the above temples were so much harder to rate due to the fact that I don’t remember them all that clearly.

The following temples involve a few that require payment to enter, but the payments are so tiny that you won’t even notice and the value for money is very good.

#7 Wat Saen Muang


The photo below won’t begin to capture the attention to detail of this place. Not an overly massive temple ground, but the buildings have so much detail in them that there is a lot to look at.

Behind the two buildings pictured below is a chedi, a bell, and other structures that seem to always be closed. So all you really can do is walk down the one side, then back up the other side of the building and admire the outside.

I came here very early and there were annoying dogs who start to bark and follow you, but this wouldn’t be a problem later in the day with more people I imagine.

Open from 06:00 – 18:00

(Shot with the Sony A7R III using the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4).

#6 Wat Chet Lin


This place has quite large temple grounds to walk around and a very quiet, peaceful air to it. It definitely ranks up there as one of the best temples in Chiang Mai for me despite not having the same grandeur as the others below it or even Wat Saen Muang listed above.

The structures themselves are not as incredible as even the temples that I have rated lower on this list. However, the setting on the pond, the tranquility and the colours made this one to remember.

There are places to meditate, you can walk across the bridge, or relax and look at the lily pads. The feeling of being here was much better than the majority of other temples I visited.

It is a shame that they close before sunset.

Open from 05:00 – 17:30

(Shot with the Sony A7R III using the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4).

#5 Wat Phra That Doi Suthep


Wat Phra That Doi Suthep will feature as top 2 for a lot of people, but for me it isn’t in the top handful.

This is partly because I was visiting during the horrid burning season and therefore unable to enjoy the views of Chiang Mai below. I was still able to appreciate the incredible buildings themselves however.

Often referred to as just “Doi Suthep”, this temple lies about 15km west of Chiang Mai city centre.

Nobody truly knows the exact origins of the temple, but it is said to have been established in 1383. The story goes that a shoulder bone of Buddha was found and split in two, one half was strapped to an elephant, which scaled Doi Suthep mountain and then died at this exact spot, and thus the temple was built here.

It is a very significant spot for Buddhism.

฿30 / person is the entry fee.

The temple can be reached by a drive up the mountain on scooter, parking is free and there are just over 300 steps to get to the temple grounds. These steps themselves are impressive as well, adorned with “naga” (serpent type creatures) on both sides for the entire length.

Inside there are monks meditating, you must dress appropriately and remove footwear.

I strongly recommend everyone makes the journey up here to visit. The grounds are very large, it is not just the temple but as you will see below, there is a large balcony of sorts where you can watch the sunrise from the east in the mornings.

Open from 06:00 – 21:00

As you can see, burning season has an effect on the clarity of the air even up at altitude.

(Shot with the DJI Mavic 2 Pro).

#4 Wat Phra Singh


Wat Phra Singh began construction in 1345 and is one of the major temples within Chiang Mai Old City. The temple is extravagant, being the housings of a former king firstly and then expanded upon over the years.

These days it is covered in gold plating, which come sunset gives off the most remarkable glow under the soft lighting conditions. The buildings are kept in fantastic condition and are restored as needed to keep them looking so good.

฿40 / person entry fee.

This temple really is a good one to visit at sunset. I think you get the most out of it in the favourable lighting conditions and the cooler temperatures. It was partially under renovation when I was there so I haven’t seen the building at the main entrance which was covered, but even so for ฿40 it was worth it ten times over.

There are also buildings in the grounds that you can take your shoes off and enter. People go in and pay their respects, but you can walk around silently and take photos (use silent shooting mode, not the mechanical shutter).

Open from 06:00 – 20:00


(Shot using the Sony A7R III with the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6).

#3 Wat Chiang Man


Wat Chiang Man is the oldest temple in all of Chiang Mai, and easily one of the best temples in Chiang Mai.

It was established in 1306 and currently houses two of the most important Buddha statues in all of Chiang Mai;

  • The Crystal Buddha.
  • Phra Sila Buddha.

The Crystal Buddha is from roughly the year 1300 and was seized by King Mengrai (who ordered the construction of the temple) from a nearby town.

The Phra Sila Buddha is of Sri Lankan origins and depicts Buddha taming an elephant, it is thought to be from the 8th century, making it over 1200 years old!

However these things aren’t what interested me the most. The entire grounds to me were the best of all of the temples I saw.

The tree with the blossoming white flowers, the hedges shaped like elephants, the chedi with elephant sculptures built into it and the Buddha on the back pagoda as well as the roof of the main building in front of the chedi.

I don’t know what it was, everything just looked important, regal, well designed and peaceful.

Entry is free.

Open from 05:00 – 21:00


(Shot using the Sony A7R III with the Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6).

#2 Wat Chedi Luang


Wat Chedi Luang for many will top the list of best temples in Chiang Mai.

The star of the show here is the immense monument shown below. Once measuring at 82m high but having been damaged by an earthquake, the remains sit roughly 60m high in the present day.

The grounds themselves are very large, some of the largest of all the temples in Chiang Mai Old City. There is plenty to see and do, but the majority of your time will be spent walking around, photographing, and admiring the chedi.

Construction started in 1391 and was not finished until 1475. It housed the Emerald Buddha for over 80 years, which now resides in Bangkok.

฿40 / person entry fee.

I recommend people come here at sunset to get the most out of the place, the temperature will be cooler and the soft lighting will make the chedi all the more fun to photograph.

The grounds are so large that you never feel crowded.

Open from 05:00 – 22:30


(Shot with the Sony A7R III using the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4).

#1 Wat Pha Lat


This is not one that people generally consider to be one of the best temples in Chiang Mai, but for me it was the one that left the biggest impression. It felt untouched, almost like it was forgotten about.

This temple can be found on the way up Doi Suthep mountain to see Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (#5 on this list). It is also the place where the feature image of this post was taken.

This temple is different to every other temple on this list. It is build within the jungle, like it is a part of the jungle, like the jungle was always meant to be the dominant figure and the temple a decoration within it.

It doesn’t have the bright gold of Wat Phra Singh or Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, it has an old rustic feel to it.

To me, it felt like I was walking through King Louie’s temple from The Jungle Book.

The grounds work with the slope of the mountain, there aren’t any huge structures that hog all of the attention, just lots of stuff everywhere you look that keeps you interested for far longer.

There were far less people here, it was me, the monks, and one couple walking the grounds. There were chickens, a peacock, and two labrador puppies running around which also made the whole experience a bajillion times more memorable.

Entry is free.

I am unsure of the opening hours, the grounds are sort of always open as there are no gates or walls around it. It is a part of a hiking trail that leads to the city as well.

Although it might not have one centre piece that photographs as well as the other places listed here, the abundance of things to look at and the way it is built into the mountain make it number one on my list of the best temples in Chiang Mai.


(Shot with the Sony A7R III using the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4).



So there’s my list of the best temples in Chiang Mai. Realistically you can see all of these in two days, but it’s best to spread them all out so you are not overloaded with temples and lose interest.

You might prefer some temples more than others, which is fine, the rankings are mostly just for fun.

There are a massive abundance of temples in Chiang Mai, I can’t tell you about the ones that I have not visited but if you want to learn more about them then I suggest using this post for information.

I hope you enjoyed the photography, even if it does make the page load a little slower, I think it helps imagine how immersive the temples can be.


Yours incandescently,

The Browne Town.

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