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Chiang Saen


Chiang Saen City Wall


  • Chiang Saen was settled in prehistoric times but its history commences with the settlement there by the Tai in the 14th C. The town lies on the Mekong River and was and is a riverboat trade centre. The first Tai settlement was near Mai Sai in 1230 and from here in 1239 Mangrai was born, later to establish a dynasty to rule Lan Na for 300 years. Mangrai's grandson, King Saen Phu established the city of Chiang Saen in 1329. This city ruled over both sides of the Mekong until it was dominated by the Burmese (as was the rest of Lan Na). It was a Burmese stronghold until 1804 when it was recaptured by the Tai. The original city was surrounded by 2 by 1 kilometers of walls andf a moat but on the orders of King Rama 1 was deserted and destroyed as a military strategy to deal with the Burmese.
The major places of interest for tourists are:
  • Wat Pa Sak. This Wat is reputed to have been constructed in 1319 and has Mon, Sukhothai and Pagan style features
  • Wat Phra That Chedi Luang built in 1331 and enlargened in 1515
  • National Museum Chiang Saen for its collection of Chiang Saen bronzes
  • the ancient City fortifications including the city walls and moat
  • the Mae Kong River landscapes



Wat Chedi Luang Chiang Saen


  • Inorder to understand what to see at Chiang Saen (or should we say '' what can not be seen '') one needs to understand the history of Chiang Saen and its destruction and subsequent resettlement. 
  • On Phaholyothin Road and next to the Chiang Saen Museum and close to the Eastern Gate of the fortified walls and moat are the ruins of Wat Phra That Chedi Lunag (Chiang Saen).
  • The chedi (seen in the pictures here) is 58 meters tall. It was constructed in 1331 and modified in 1515. Inside the Wat grounds can be seen the foundations of other earlier constructions also made of brick and the original viharn which today has a metal fabricated temporary roof under which is a Buddha image and temple.



Wat Chedi Luang Chiang Saen