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20 Best Chiang Mai Temples You Must Visit! (2023)

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Chiang Mai temples are renowned for their incredible beauty and visiting them is one of the most popular things to do in Chiang Mai (most are free to visit). The former capital of the Lanna kingdom in Northern Thailand, there are over 200 Chiang Mai temples in and around the city.

From hilltop places of worship to underground halls to the famous ‘silver temple’ of Chiang Mai, here is our guide to the and must visit Chiang Mai temples as at 2023:

Visiting Chiang Mai temples – ‘guidelines’

Before visiting any of the Chiang Mai temples, please remember:

Dress appropriately – remember to keep your shoulders covered and wear long trousers / pants. At some temples, you can hire shawls and coverings (but not all so best to take your own).

Respect the signs and instructions at all the temples in Chiang Mai – most ask tourists not to go inside temples during prayer times or ceremonies.

Do not approach monks or take pictures without asking permission.

Take shoes off before entering temples in Chiang Mai and throughout Thailand.

Do not point your feet towards the Buddha statues.

Several temples are for ‘men only’ including the main hall at the silver temple (Wat Sri Suphan).

Best Chiang Mai Temples map

Looking for cheap Chiang Mai day-trips, attractions or group/private tours? We recommend visiting Viator, GetYourGuide, and Klook!

Best Chiang Mai Temples

1. Wat Chiang Man

One of the most beloved and well known temples in Chiang Mai, Wat Chiang Man is a must visit when in the city. A 13th century Chiang Mai temple with vast grounds and numerous temples, Wat Chiang Man is also renowned for its huge gold chedi and large elephant sculptures.

As a result, it can get a little overcrowded with tourists and is less serene than other Chiang Mai temples during peak hours – we’d recommend you go around sunset as it is much quieter then.

Wat Chiang Man temple Chiang Mai

Built in 1297 and also the oldest Royal Temple in the city, the famous chedi chang lom (elephant chedi) is the oldest part of Wat Chiang Man with 15 full or partial elephants around it.

Unlike some of the other more famous Chiang Mai temples, Wat Chiang Man is free admission / free to enter although donations are gratefully appreciated.

Wat Chiang Man temple Chiang Mai
Wat Chiang Man temple Chiang Mai

2. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Ratchaworawihan – the most famous temple in Chiang Mai

Located in the hills high above Chiang Mai, even the journey to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple is breathtaking – and as for the views at the top…(!)

When you first arrive at Doi Suthep (likely via tuk-tuk, taxi or a tour), there are two ways to get to the main temple ground – you can walk up the seven-headed serpent stairs (over 300 steps) or take an electric stair lift /funicular (50 THB for foreign visitors as of 2023).

Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai
Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai

First established in the 1380s, the temple and its grounds have grown over the years to be one of the most beautiful temples in Chiang Mai if not the whole of Thailand.

As a result, tourist hordes can get a little annoying so best to visit early or late (the added bonus is that you’ll get to see sunset or sunrise over Chiang Mai, given the incredible mountain views).

If you visit in the evening, you will also hear and see the monks chanting plus the golden chedi is lit up at night.

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Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai
Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai
Seven-headed serpent stairs

3. Wat Phra Singh

Likely the most famous temple in Chiang Mai (and as a result, tourist central), Wat Phra Singh is also one of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai, with construction work started in 1345.

The Thai Lanna architecture at Wat Phra Singh is also one of the finest examples of its kind in Northern Thailand (also check out Chiang Rai’s temples).

Wat Phra Singh temple in Chiang Mai

Very serene out of peak hours, we’d recommend visiting Wat Phra Singh first thing in the morning before it gets busy – the golden chedi at the rear of Wat Phra Singh is like nothing else in Chiang Mai.

All the buildings here are beautifully decorated, plus there are plenty of other things going on here, like the ability to communicate and help monks with their English (‘Monk chat’) plus stalls.

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Wat Phra Singh temple in Chiang Mai

4. Wat Chedi Luang

As you’d expect from a temple that has a title meaning ‘large’ (luang) in Northern Thai dialect, Wat Chedi Luang is epic in scale and famous for its colossal chedi which is almost 300 foot high and can be seen from many parts of Chiang Mai’s old town.

Wat Chedi Luang temple in Chiang Mai

Wat Chedi Luang was built in the 14th century and as you’d expect from such a renowned temple (with beautiful grounds to match), is one of the most frequently visited by tourists.

Wat Chedi Luang is also one of only a handful of temples in Chiang Mai that charges an admission fee for overseas tourists (50 Baht per person at the time of our last visit in 2023). It is a small price to pay to see such an incredible Chiang Mai temple and one of the must things to do in Chiang Mai.

As well as an ornate ordination hall that is ‘guarded’ by fierce looking naga statues, the chedi base comprises of multiple elephants too plus you can talk to the novice monks (look out for ‘monk chat’ signs).

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Wat Chedi Luang temple in Chiang Mai
Wat Chedi Luang temple in Chiang Mai

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5. Wat Sri Suphan / AKA the Chiang Mai  ‘Silver Temple’

Dare we say that after visiting many temples in Chiang Mai, some of them can get a little ‘repetitive’? If so, we can assure you that Wat Sri Suphan (or the ‘silver temple’) is one of the most unique and memorable temples in Chiang Mai.

We visited Sri Suphan AKA the silver temple of Chiang Mai twice as it was so remarkable, once at night whilst attending the Saturday night walking market and once again in the daytime to see in its full glory.

At night, the silver temple surfaces are lit up by colourful lights – it looks incredible any time of day.

Wat Sri Suphan Silver temple in Chiang Mai
Wat Sri Suphan Silver temple in Chiang Mai
Men only’ temple

The original Sri Suphan dates back to the 16th century but was replaced with a ‘silver’ temple (well, silver and aluminum in the 2010s) when the old temple became run down.

This Chiang Mai silver temple is so beautiful inside and out (shiny as!) . Note that the main temple at Sri Suphan is deemed as ‘for men only’ (we know, we know!).

Possibly the most unique temple in the downtown area of Chiang Mai, the silver Sri Suphan temple costs 50 baht to visit and one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai.

Wat Sri Suphan Silver temple in Chiang Mai

6. Wat Ket Karam

One of the more surreal and ‘fun’ Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai, we can only best describe Wat Ket Karam as a ‘dainty Disneyland’ given how much space they’ve given over to toy figures, miniature models and cartoon animal statues – quite different from any other Chiang Mai temple, we really enjoyed the experience.

Wat Ket Karam temple in Chiang Mai
Wat Ket Karam temple in Chiang Mai

Originally built in the 1420s, Wat Ket Karam’s grounds feel quite park-like, with lots of trees and foliage plus an abundance of small man-made ponds and fountains adorned with hundreds of minifigures – the pagoda at Wat Ket Karam is very elegant too.

There were several stalls in Wat Ket Karam selling tributes and food, plus many of the halls and buildings had dozing cats in them so animals are treated very well here.

Wat Ket Karam temple in Chiang Mai
Wat Ket Karam temple in Chiang Mai

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7. Wat Lam Chang

This is a local temple that isn’t visited that much by tourists, making it a perfect place for peace and reflection.

Built in the 14th century and smaller than many other Chiang Mai temples, this is also known as the temple of the tethered elephant, when elephants were kept and looked after here in previous centuries.

Wat Lam Chang

Now Wat Lam Chang is home to many cats and kittens as opposed to elephants – seriously, we found this to be the temple with the most cats in Chiang Mai. They are obviously well looked after by the monks and locals here.

Several stalls were also in the Wat Lam Chang grounds including a lottery seller and beauticians. We also saw monks enjoying their breakfasts which was nice to see.

Wat Lam Chang
Wat Lam Chang

8. Wat Dok Euang temple in Chiang Mai

We were a little bemused by the Wat Dok Euang entrance sign that said ‘We Love Cleaning’ but hey, all seemed ship-shape and gleaning when we visited. There was chanting of monks emanating from the main temple hall as we arrived.

We were also visiting Wat Dok Euang during the Loy Krathong festival 2022 so the grounds were festooned with colourful lanterns.

Wat Dok Euang temple in Chiang Mai

Small and serene, the steps to the Wat Dok Euang are graced with two huge golden serpents (‘naga’) making this very picturesque too.

Wat Dok Euang temple in Chiang Mai

9. Wat Pan Ping (also known as Wat Ban / Baan Ping)

Within a short walking distance of The Three King Monument and built in the 16th century, much of the current Wat Pan Ping temple at the front is new after a fire ravaged through the site a few years ago (the older buildings are towards the rear of Wat Pan Ping).

We were the only tourists there during our visit so expect a much more relaxed and peaceful experience at Wan Pan Ping than compared to say Wat Phra Singh.

Wat Pan Ping

The name relates to the nearby river as was intended to keep away evil spirits that may emanate from the river.

As well as being very beautiful, there were lots of quirky features at Wat Pan Ping like huge plastic models of the monks (a little Disneyland like) with lots of mantras and maxims printing out in huge letters and plastered all over the grounds.

The centre-piece is a small temple that had incredible stained glass windows.

Wat Pan Ping
Wat Pan Ping

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10. Wat Umong Mahathera Chan

Most of the most verdant and lush temples in Chiang Mai, Wat Umong Mahathera Chan is a small sanctuary in the heart of old town Chiang Mai.

It even has a small garden area with seating surrounded by trees ideal for relaxation or meditation (or even lunch as some locals were using it to eat their food.

Wat Umong Mahathera Chan
Wat Umong Mahathera Chan

Wat Umong Mathathera Chan is also a meditation training centre with multiple chedi in the grounds.

Given how busy this part of Chiang Mai can get, if you need a moment of reflection or calm, Wat Umong Mathethera Chan is the ideal place – plus all the foliage makes the grounds quite cool, even in the searing midday heat.

Wat Umong Mahathera Chan

11. Wat Chai Si Phum temple in Chiang Mai

One of the quieter Chiang Mai temples with much Buddhist philosophy on the walls, near the north east section of the old city walls, some form of religious site has been at Wat Chai Si Phum for over 500 years.

We visited Wat Chai Su Phum early one Sunday morning and lots of locals were paying their respects, with musicians playing in the courtyard.

Wat Chai Si Phum temple in Chiang Mai

Whilst not visited so much by tourists (we were the only ones one during our visit), Wat Chai Si Phum is worth a visit as it is so serene and has one of the largest statues in Chiang Mai with much gold-leaf on display; the monks here also take care of many street animals like dogs.

Wat Chai Si Phum temple in Chiang Mai

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12. Wat Jet Lin / Wat Chedlin temple in Chiang Mai

Years ago and on previous visits to Chiang Mai, Wat Jetlin (also known as Wat Chedlin) always used to be our ‘favourite’ temple in the old city as not only was it peaceful, there was also a really beautiful and colourful pier you could walk along, adorned with rainbow parasols. The pier ran across a huge pond with terraces where you could also feed the fish.

Wat Jet Lin / Wat Chedlin

Revisiting in November 2022, the pier / jetty was still there but the brightly coloured parasols have gone and the wooden bridge is a little rickety and overgrown (another bridge we stepped on started to crack and creak quite loudly – there seems to be some form of renovations going on).

You can still feed the fish here; bags of fish food cost just 10 Baht and are huge – as are the fish. Like seriously massive both in size and number – just throw a handful of fish food pellets into the pond and a sea of gaping fish mouths await.

At Wat Jetlin, there is also a small on-site cafe plus there is a room where you can talk to monks.

Wat Jet Lin / Wat Chedlin
Wat Jet Lin / Wat Chedlin
Wat Jet Lin / Wat Chedlin

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13. Wat Muen Tum

With a huge entrance arch and large imposing Lanna style viharn (hall) to greet you, Wat Muen Tum is also free to enter and often quieter than other more famous temples.

The statues at Wat Muen Tum are very ornate  – the grounds are quite small so this is a relatively quick temple to visit. We visited Wat Muen Tum during Loy Krathong so the grounds had been decorated with an array of paper lanterns and offerings.

Wat Muen Tum
Wat Muen Tum

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14. Wat Phan On temple in Chiang Mai

One of the more compact temples in Chiang Mai, Wat Phan On dates from the early 16th century; the highlight of our visit to Wat Phan On was the huge and beautiful Buddha statue – there is also a viharn (temple hall) and golden chedi onsite.

If you can, time your visit to Wat Phan On to coincide with the Sunday night walking market in Chiang Mai as the temple grounds come alive with street food vendors and handicraft stalls (every Sunday from 4pm onwards).

15. Wat Upakhut

Close to the Chiang Mai night bazaar and River Ping, Wat Upakhut was generally quite scarce in terms of tourists when we visited, so it was a really peaceful and rewarding experience.

Wat Upakhut Chiang Mai temple

Several local people bought candles from the stall in Wat Upakhut’s grounds and lit them in front of the main hall – the huge frame was covered in candles and wax at various stages of burning so it looked incredible.

Elsewhere, there are several water features and a small, tropical garden to the rear of the temple (which several playful cats seemed to call home). Given its close proximity to the river and main commercial centre of Chiang Mai, Wat Upakhut often hosts festivals too.

Wat Upakhut Chiang Mai temple
Wat Upakhut Chiang Mai temple

16. Wat Inthakhin Sadue Muang

A small temple located near to 3 Kings Monument Square, Wat Inthakhin Sadue Muang packs a lot into a compact space (they even have their own radio station!), with an incredible viharn (temple hall), a couple of chedis and accommodation for the monks who live on site.

Wat Inthakhin Sadue Muang Chiang Mai temple

During Loy Krathong, Wat Inthakhin Sadue Muang erects a colourful tunnel of lanterns which is very photogenic and popular with tourists. They also construct a small pond where you can ‘float’ candle tributes bought from Loy Krathong stalls in the temple grounds.

Wat Inthakhin Sadue Muang Chiang Mai temple

17. Wat Pha Bong (Mangkhalaram)

Wat Pha Bong is a quiet temple, a world away from the business of its nearby neighbouring temple Wat Phra Singh.

Wat Pha Bong (Mangkhalaram) Chiang Mai temple

A quiet, sacred place with a cartoon model of a monk to greet you and plenty of shade to escape the sun including a small peace garden to the right as you first enter. There is also a huge gong in front of the temple which you are encouraged to ring.

As the sign next to it says “Auspicious gong, please hit three times for “happiness, healthy and peaceful”.

Wat Pha Bong (Mangkhalaram) Chiang Mai temple
Wat Pha Bong (Mangkhalaram) Chiang Mai temple

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18. Wat Tung Yu Temple

We discovered Wat Tung Yu temple quite by chance one day whilst wandering around the backstreets of Chiang Mai. We visited on a very hot June day in 2023 during low tourist season so we had the whole temple and its grounds to ourselves.

Wat Tung Yu is quite small compared to other more ‘famous’ temples in Chiang Mai, but the experience is very rewarding. As we walked into the ornate and incredibly decorated viharn / temple hall, a member of staff inside explained about the big smiling Buddha and asked where we were from.

We didn’t realise until after we’d visit Wat Tung Yu but it is famed for its explicit mural depicting ‘hell’ with various naked people being punished.

Every Sunday. Wednesday and Saturday at 9am at Wat Tung Yu, you can join a group meditation session with Teachings and discussion on the Path to Enlightenment, organised by the Chiang Mai Meditation & Buddhist Study Community – there is no cost (times and days correct as of June 2023).

19. Wat Buppharam Temple (also known as Wat Suan Dak)

Located towards the west end of Chiang Mai’s old town, Wat Buppharam is one of the least well known Chiang Mai temples but is well worth a visit.

Known for its white walls and buildings, Buddhist monks can often be seen roaming the grounds at Wat Suan Dak or heard meditating in the inner temple. The Assembly Hall is also one of the beautiful in the area with a vibrant mix of red and gold colours.

Dating back over 600 years with many restorations and new sections over the decades, this is a peaceful spot to enjoy and ponder.

Our final Chiang Mai Temple…

20. Wat Umong Suan Putthatham

A little out of the Chiang Mai old town and best reached by tuk-tuk or taxi, Wat Umong is one of the most historical and beautiful temples in Chiang Mai.

Unlike most of the Chiang Mai temples you can visit, Wat Umong has an incredible array of ancient tunnels you can explore thought to date back to the 13th century (keep an eye out for the cave paintings) and a large Chedi monument that is around 700 years old.

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