Wat Chiang Man: The Oldest Temple in Chiang Mai

by Tsvete Popp
Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is the second major city and the spiritual capital of Thailand. The city is home to more than 300 Buddhist temples. The oldest of all Chiang Mai’s temples is Wat Chiang Man, known also as Wat Chiang Mun.

Chiang Man Temple was built in the Himalayan Foothills at the very beginning of Chiang Mai’s development (1296). During that period, Chiang Mai was the capital of the Lanna Kingdom (1296-1768). Nowadays, the city is still the spiritual capital of Thailand and is well worth a visit.

Wat Chiang Man, Chiang MaiWat Chiang Man, Chiang MaiWat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai

Wat Chiang Man is one of the most remarkable temples located inside the city walls of Chiang Mai’s old town. Wat Chiang Man is a relatively small Buddhist temple which is reported to be the oldest temple in Chiang Mai.  The temple was built by King Mengrai some 700 years ago. King Mangrai was also Ching Mai’s founder who lived in the temple while overseeing the construction of the new capital of Lanna Kingdom. According to a stone inscription found within the temple, Chiang Man was restored in 1471, 1558, 1571, and 1581.

Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai
Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai
Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai

Wat Chiang Man has two meditation halls, both with beautiful golden façade and gold chedi. The larger viharn has an impressive three-tiered roof built in a Lanna style. Inside the vihar you’ll find the oldest dated Buddha image in Chiang Mai which is a standing Buddha that holds a bowl, inscribed with the year 1465. Khru Ba Srivichai, one of the most famous monks of Chiang Mai, renovated the building in 1920.

Wat Chiang Man was built in a remarkable Lanna-style and houses some very old and fundamental Buddha images – the 1800-year-old crystal Buddha and a 2500-year-old marble Buddha. Both rare Buddhas are housed in a small viharn on the right side of the main temple.

The marble Buddha is called Phra Sila which is 0,3 m high and its origin is not really familiar. Some Thais believe that the marble Buddha comes from India, others say that it originated from Ceylon in Sri Lanka. The Marble Buddha dates from the 8th century. It is believed that Phra Sila has the power to bring rain.

Wat Chiang Man, Chiang MaiWat Chiang Man, Chiang MaiWat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai

The Crystal Buddha Statue, called Phra Tang Khamani, is one of the greatest treasures in Thailand The statue is only 0,1 metres high and dates to the 14th century. The small Crystal Buddha belonged to Queen Chamathewi of Lamphun who was the wife of King Mengrai. Both Buddha images are accessible usually only on Sundays.

Another interesting and unique architecture within the Buddhist complex is the Chedi Chang Lom – a stupa from the 15th century.  The chedi is a mixture of Lanna and Singhalese styles. The bottom of the chedi is made of stone. The second level is made of grey stone which is surrounded by 15 Sinhalese-style elephants. The top contains a relic chamber. It is also believed that a Sacred Hair Relic from Buddha is housed here.

! Did you know that ...
The name of the Temple “Chiang Man” means “City Stable”.

Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai

Things to Know Before You Go, Wat Chiang Man

Wat Chiang Man is located near the North East corner of the old walled town between Phra Pok Klao 13 road and Ratchaphakhinai 1 road. From the North Gate, Chang Phuak Gate, it will take less than 2 minutes to walk

Any songthaew (red trucks that act as shared taxis) can take you to the temple within the old city for around 30 THB per person.

As with any other temple in the city, keep in mind to dress respectfully – shoulders and knees should be covered. There are no entry fees to Wat Chiang Man but donations are always appreciated.

Official Name: Wat Chiang Man, often written as Wat Chiang Mun

Address: 171 Ratchapakhinai Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200

Opening Hours: Wat Chiang Man is open every day from Monday-Sunday – 6:00 am to 5:00 pm

Tickets: No entrance fee

Hotels Near Wat Chiang Man: Find the best deals here!

Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai

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