Backpacking Indochina: Wats to see in Chiang Mai (in Photos)

Dubbed as Thailand’s “Rose of the North”, Chiang Mai is a fascinating mélange of ancient world and modern time charms. Though already more than 700 years since its founding, the walled city still keeps its name “Chiang Mai” which literally means “new city.” For as Thailand’s travel hub in the north, Chiang Mai has managed to keep up with the times yet still hang on to its heritage.

My chosen base of operations was inside the Old City where a true-blue moat still exists to this day. Chiang Mai’s Old City is roughly in the shape of a square and is surrounded by brick walls that were mostly destroyed during World War II. Arriving late in the afternoon did not stop me from attacking the first item on my itinerary: visit as many wats or Buddhist temples inside the Old City walls. Although I could say that I had seen plenty of pagodas in the Yangon leg of my backpacking Indochina tour, visiting these temples is still a must when in Chiang Mai. It is just temple central, with literally a Buddhist temple at every corner.  I was able to visit some of them and capture some amazing photos.

Click the photo to enlarge.

Wat Saen Muang Ma Luang Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

The ubosot (ordination hall) and the viharn (assembly hall) of Wat Saen Muang Ma Luang, a Burmese temple.

Wat Phun Ohn Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

Wat Phun Ohn

Wat Pa Phrao Nai Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

Wat Pa Phrao Nai

Wat Dab Phai Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

Wat Dab Phai

Wat Pha Bong Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

Wat Pha Bong

Wat Phra Singh Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

Wat Phra Singh: Temple of the Lion Buddha

Wat Chai Phra Kiat Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

Wat Chai Phra Kiat

Wat Phan Tao Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

Wat Phan Tao: A one-time royal residence.

Hill tribe girls watching the candle lighting process at the Wat Phan Tao Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

Hill tribe ladies watching the candle lighting process at the Wat Phan Tao.

Monks Wat Phan Tao Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

Monks at the Wat Phan Tao grounds.

Large Viharn Wat Chedi Luang Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

The viharn of the Wat Chedi Luang is actually 500 years younger than the stupa.

Prayer time of monks with Phra Chao Attarot Wat Chedi Luang Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

Phra Chao Attarot, the standing Buddha, looking over the monks inside the large viharn of Wat Chedi Luang.

Wat Chedi Luang Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

Up until the modern times, the Wat Chedi Luang was the tallest structure in all of Chiang Mai.

Wat Chedi Luang Ruins Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

The ruins of the Wat Chedi Luang after an earthquake in 1545.

Reclining Buddha Wat Chedi Luang Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

Reclining Buddha of the Wat Chedi Luang.

Sunset Wat Chedi Luang Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

The red-brown bricks of the Wat Chedi Luang turn golden with the setting sun.

City Pillar and Dipterocarp tree Wat Chedi Luang Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

City Pillar and Dipterocarp tree are the revered protectors of the city.

Wat Ithanon Backpacking Chiang Mai Chasing Jayce

Wat Ithanon: pretty basic in the daylight but looks quite dainty and pretty at night.

Read more: Chiang Mai = Thailand = Shopping

There are plenty more temples just inside Chiang Mai’s Old City walls.  But they would sort of blur into one similar structure. As is evident in the photos, the Wat Chedi Luang is the most important and also the most impressive.  It’s also very photogenic no matter what time of day – which is why it’s my favorite.

In my next post, the most sacred temple outside of the city walls.

Read more: My (mis)adventures while backpacking around Indochina.

August 22-25, 2015

***photos were taken using iPhone6 and GoPro Hero 4 Silver

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Jayce Cairo

Jayce is a linguaphile who speaks four languages and currently works as a translator to finance her various interests. Scoring very high on “Openness to Experience” on the Big Five Personality Test, she is an avid globetrotter who aspires to retire at 35 and travel for the rest of her life.

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