Chiang Mai Day 2 (10 Nov 17) – Three Temples Visit: Wat Doi Suthep, Wat Phra Singh and Wat Sri Don Moon

The Golden Temple Overlooking Chiang Mai – Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Visits to Chiang Mai is incomplete without a visit to their Temples. Apart from the “Big Four” Temples in Old City, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is one of the most visited temples in Chiang Mai. The Wat Doi Suthep sits on top of the mountain Doi Suthep, seemingly watching and protecting the city of Chiang Mai. The journey from Chiang Mai city to the Wat Doi Suthep takes us to pass windy mountainous routes where we saw a glimpse of the city resting on the plains at the foot of the mountain. Wat Doi Suthep is perched on top of 309 stairs. There is a tram service that ferries visitors to the top of the slope where the temple sits in around 5 mins. Wat Doi Suthep’s facade itself looks like a work of art. Decked with red, green and gold paints with intricate carvings, the layer roofed tall and slim structure that surrounds the temple is portrays distinctive Thai-style architecture.

The iconic Wat Doi Suthep

Driving towards Doi Suthep

The tram station is on the right side of the 309 stairs that visitors would otherwise have to take to get to Wat Doi Suthep

The tram rail that we have travelled

Shrines that form the facade and the walls surrounding Wat Doi Suthep

A shrine that forms the outer walls to Wat Doi Suthep

Like all other Thai temples, visitors are required to remove their footwear before entering the temple. Unlike most of the Thai temples that I have visited throughout the years of my visit to Thailand, the temple grounds of Wat Doi Suthep is mostly outdoors. Passing through the outer walls of the temple, a large golden stupa lies in the centre of the temple grounds. The stupa is surrounded by 4 prayer halls, each in one direction. It is believed that the Buddha’s bone that the white elephant brought to this piece of land is buried under the stupa. The stupa has been fenced up, devotees are seen walking 3 times around the stupa chanting some sutra (which is available in English and Chinese other than Thai) at the same time. Statues of Buddhas decked in white stone, golden paint and green glass are placed around the parameters of the walkway. One can choose either of the 4 sides to pray to the Buddha in Wat Doi Suthep. The main prayer hall, or wiharn, is next to the main entrance of the temple. This is the largest wiharn with several golden statues of Buddha placed in front of an elaborately painted wall. A smaller wiharn is situated opposite the main wiharn, where only 1 buddha statue is housed. One can obtain blessings from the temple monk in either of the wiharns. On either side of the wiharns are smaller shrines where statues of Buddhas, enclosed in glass panels. There are numerous spots for photo taking of the iconic golden stupa that defines Wat Doi Suthep. Most of the visitors are here to take the iconic pictures.

Counter than sells offerings for prayers

There are lockers available (free of charge) for visitors to store their shoes before entering Wat Doi Suthep

The golden stupa and umbrella that are icons of Wat Doi Suthep

Golden stupa in Wat Doi Suthep

Emerald Buddha statue in Wat Doi Suthep

A small reclining Buddha and another Emerald Buddha in Wat Doi Suthep

Buddha statues in Wat Doi Suthep

The main wiharn in Wat Doi Suthep

Whitestone Buddha in Wat Doi Suthep
The smaller wiharn in Wat Doi Suthep
Such Buddha statues displayed along the parameters of a temple is typical of a Thai temple
Golden stupa that rises amongst the buildings in Wat Doi Suthep
Another temple building in Wat Doi Suthep

As Wat Doi Suthep is situated on Doi Suthep, we headed for the viewpoint at the back of the temple, that granted us views of Chiang Mai city. At the first viewpoint, we saw Chiang Mai International Airport and parts of Chiang Mai city. A little further from the first viewpoint is another viewpoint where we saw the entire Chiang Mai city. Both viewpoints offer great photo spots for visitors.

A Pavilion at the first viewpoint
View of Chiang Mai city from the first viewpoint
Panoramic shot of the city of Chiang Mai from the first viewpoint
View from the first viewpoint
Taking a wefie at the first viewpoint
Bells in Wat Doi Suthep
En route to the second viewpoint
We see more of Chiang Mai city from the second viewpoint

Lanna Temple Art and Architecture – Wat Phra Singh

Leaving Doi Suthep, we headed to the nearby Wat Phra Singh, located in the western part of the Old City. Wat Phra Singh is a temple typical of Lanna art and architecture. Wat Phra Singh is a temple dedicated to the Lion Buddha. A Lanna styled and rather new large 3-layer roofed temple structure sits facing the main entrance to the temple greeting visitors. Most visitors would stop by this temple building during their visit to Wat Phra Singh. The decor inside this temple building exudes simple yet revered feel. There are no elaborated paintings on its walls, nor detailed carvings inside this temple building. At the end of the building, a large Buddha statue sits solemnly, seemingly welcoming visitors offering their prayers. Next to this Buddha statue are several wax figurines of past abbots of Wat Phra Singh. The treasure of Wat Phra Singh is not housed in this building, but in a less elaborated building further into the temple grounds. Behind the main temple, the building is a small inconspicuous wooden building, the Ubosot, used for the ordination of monks. Built-in 1806, this simply decorated building but richly decorated with wooden carvings, houses a smaller image of the Lion Buddha and a replica of the famed Emerald Buddha (now housed in the Grand Palace in Bangkok).

Lion statues that guard Wat Phra Singh
The exterior of the main prayer hall
Inside the main prayer hall
Inside the main temple in Wat Phra Singh
Wax figurine of past abbots of Wat Phra Singh next to the Buddha
A large Buddha statue sits at the end of the temple
A mythical creature that guards the temple
Temple library in Wat Phra Singh
Ubosot behind the main prayer hall in Wat Phra Singh
The interior of the Ubosot is simpler compared to the main  prayer hall
Inside the Ubosot
A replica of the Emerald Buddha in the Ubosot
I saw this stone that has carvings of another language inside the Ubosot.  There is no signage to explain its significance

It is hard for anyone visiting Wat Phra Singh to miss the large Chedi beside the Ubosot. The golden stupa that stretches towards the sky, sits on a square base with images of elephants protruding out of the each of the sides of the square base. It seems like these elephants are carrying the chedi on their backs. A statue of the sleeping Buddha, housed in a very simple small building at the back of the temple grounds. The treasure of Wat Phra Singh is housed in a very inconspicuous building tucked at the back of the temple grounds next to the golden chedi. This white building is where the exalted statue of Lion Buddha rests since the 1360s. It is easy to miss out on this building.

Golden Chedi beside the Ubosot
It is believed that the ashes of the King’s father are buried on the ground where Golden Chedi is located in Wat Phra Singh
Golden Chedi in Wat Phra Singh
The main prayer hall, Ubosot and the Golden Chedi in Wat Phra Singh
There is a statue of the reclining Buddha in one of the smaller building in Wat Phra Singh
The white building is where the Lion Buddha statue is placed
This white building is where the Lion Buddha statue is placed
Around Wat Phra Singh
The building where the Lion Buddha is placed

The White Temple – Wat Sri Don Moon

The third temple that we visited today is a local temple, with literally no foreign visitors. Unlike the previous 2 temples we visited so far, Wat Sri Don Moon does not charge entrance fees. On our way to Wat Sri Don Moon, stopped at a Thai restaurant for lunch. Wat Sri Don Moon is located southeast of Old City and is about 30 mins drive from Old City. This temple can easily be missed by visitors to Chiang Mai as it is located in a remote part of the city. Wat Sri Don Moon is an all-white temple from the structure to the roof of the temple building. Unlike the temples we have visited so far, there is no layered roofing in Wat Sri Don Moon. Instead the roof of this temple building is painted in gold, giving the temple a unique look. The interior of Wat Sri Don Moon is decked with colours of all hues, unlike its exterior. Inside the temple houses 2 statues of white Buddha, enclosed in a glass case. What attracts me most in this temple is the artwork painted on the walls of the temple. The paintings seem to relate to the life of Buddha and how he attained nirvana. Perhaps due to the lack of visitors, Wat Sri Don Moon appears to me as more serene and peaceful. We headed back to the hotel to rest and have dinner before ending our day with shopping along the night bazaar just outside the hotel we stayed.

We stop by a Thai restaurant for lunch en route to Wat Sri Don Moon
We had Tom yum seafood for lunch
Pineapple fried rice is delicious and flavourful
Deep-fried Sea Bass with garlic and salt
Taking a wefie in the outdoor area of the restaurant
The white temple in Chiang Mai – Wat Sri Don Moon
Wat Sri Don Moon is mainly white in colour with golden colour painted on its roof
A naga protecting Wat Sri Don Moon
The facade of Wat Sri Don Moon
Wat Sri Don Moon
Wat Sri Don Moon has a statue of Buddha enclosed in a glass  panel
Statue of Buddha in Wat Sri Don Moon
These paintings no the wall tells the story of Buddha
These paintings on the wall tell the story of Buddha
These paintings on the wall tell the story of Buddha

Leave a Reply