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The Major Chiang Mai Temples (Wats)

  • Chiang Mai City was constructed originally by the Tai Yuan  (Khon Muang People) led by King Mangrai in 1296. The temples in the region prior to this where Mon Buddhist and not Tai Buddhist. The difference between the Mon style and the Tai style is explained here.
  • The key dates of the construction of the Chiang Mai temples are listed in the North Thailand History Chronology.
  • To plan a tour visit to Chiang Mai temples we have divided tours into sites within the original city walls (and moat) and those to the immediate north, west, south and east and within a 10 kilometer radius. There are at least 12 major Temples to visit.
  • Chiang Mai city is in the center of the Ping Valley in the Chiang Mai Province so trips to the North and South of the Ping Valley should not be ignored. Temples in Lampang, Lamphun and Chiang Rai are highly recommended tourist sites.



The Viharn Lai Kham at Wat Phra Singh


  • Chiang Mai Temple (Wat) art and architecture follows themes for each ethnic group or empire, these are of the Mon people and the Haripunjaya Empire (8th – 13th C) of the Tai Yuan (Khon Muang) Lan Na art style in Upper North (13th –19th C) and the Burmese and Shan. The differences in this art and architecture are illustrated in images of Buddha, bas-reliefs, Wat and stupa construction. In all cases these were influenced by the prevailing Indian concepts, cosmology and mythology.
  • Later, for 218 years (mid 16th C to mid 18th C) Lan Na was occupied by the Kingdom of Pegu from Burma (now Myanmar) during which period all art works were influenced by their views.
  • In the 19th C the Shan people (Tai Yai) arrived from Burma bringing with them their northern Burmese Shan styles of art and architecture.
  • These various styles are demonstrated in terracotta and bronze figures (particularly Buddhist themes), temple and stupa design, woodcarvings, stucco, gilt and lacquer. 


The Major Wats Temples Of Chiang Mai City

Temples Inside the Chiang Mai City Moated Area

Chiang Mai Temples North of Chiang Mai City Moat                      

Chiang Mai Temples West of Chiang Mai City Moat

Chiang Mai Temples East of Chiang Mai City Moat

Chiang Mai Temples South of Chiang Mai City Moat