This post is part of the series Chiang Mai
Other posts in this series:
- Wat Sri Suphan: The Silver Temple in Chiang Mai
- Wat Chedi Luang: Temple of the Great Stupa in Chiang Mai
- Wat Phra Singh: The Golden Temple in Chiang Mai (Current)
This post is part of the series Thailand
Other posts in this series:
A lot of people will tell you that when you travel to Chiang Mai all the temples will begin to look the same after a while. Yet somehow these people are right. Now, I think that there is a way to appreciate the differences between the temples. These are not only to be found in the details but also in the story of the temple itself.
Today I’ll take you to Wat Phra Singh which is one of the most beautiful temples out of the 300 plus temples found in the Chiang Mai area. And if you ask, it is one of these temples that you must see during your stay in the city. I won’t easily forget the impressiveness of its layout, architecture and golden shine!
Wat Phra Singh is located on the western side in the old town of Chiang Mai. The complex is not only a temple but also an active monastery and school as well. Wat Phra Singh is known as “The Monastery of the Lion Buddha” or “The temple of the Lion Buddha”. Many monks and novices are also living here.
Although Wat Phra Singh is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chiang Mai, there were almost no tourists or locals on this particular afternoon. To be honest, I think that travellers should definitely add Wat Phra Singh to their itinerary as it is one of the finest examples of classic Lanna style temple architecture in Northern Thailand.
Wat Phra Singh dates to the year of 1345 and was built by King Pra Chao Maha Proma. During that time Chiang Mai was the capital of the Lanna Kingdom. The ubosot of Phra Singh is beautifully decorated with lovely details and artwork and the rooftops are also built in the typical Lanna-style. In fact, Wat Phra Singh is known as one of the finest examples of Lanna architecture.
Wat Phra Singh was completely neglected during the 16th and 17th centuries. In the early 1800s. the temple got renovated and completely restored in the 1920s. Wihan Luang, the largest building in the complex, was built in 1925 on the side of the original Wihan from the 14th century. Inside the Wihan Luang is the holly Phra Chao Thong Tip (Buddha statue made of gold and copper).
Wat Phra Singh It gained the status of Royal temple of the first grade in 1935.
What to See: Wat Phra Singh
Phra That Luang Chedi
Phra That Luang Chedi is the largest building and was built in 1925 on the side of the original Wihan from the 14th century. Inside the Wihan Luang is the holly Phra Chao Thong Tip (Buddha statue made of gold and copper). This Buddha statue is called Phra Buddha Sihing and gives the temple its name. In 1922 the head of the Buddha statue was stolen so it is highly possible that the present statue (or only the head) is a copy.
Viharn Lai Kham, the Gilded Hall
One of the best examples of Lanna style architecture is the Viharn Lai Kham! The Gilded Hall was built at the end of the 14th century to house the Phra Singh Buddha. Many believe that that statue came from Sri Lanka, other say it was made in Chiang Mai.
The hall’s exterior is decorated in typical Lanna gold and ochre colours. Within the hall, you can also see some painting from 1820 which play scenes of the life of Buddha.
During the Thai New Year, the Lion Buddha is carried through Chiang Mai and locals splash water on it for good luck.
Ubosot and the Kind of Creepy Wax Figures
The ubosot is a wooden building from 1806. This is the place where monks get ordained. Hundreds of monks are in residence at Wat Phra Singh. The building is decorated with wood carvings, gold detailing and many monk figures. These wax figures are so good, I thought that some real monks are meditating! Here you can also spot another copy of the holiest Buddha Statue in Thailand – the Emerald Buddha. The original one is housed in the Great Palace of Bangkok.
Ho Trai: A Scripture Library Guarded by Demonic Spirits
The Ho Trai library is another amazing example of Lanna style architecture. Here is where a lot of ancient Buddhist scriptures are kept. Ho Trai was built in 1477 in order to keep the holly Buddhist scripts from possible disasters.
Things to Know Before You Go
Wat Phra Singh is located on the western side of the old town in Chiang Mai. The temple is at the end of the main Rachadamnoen road which runs east from the temple and continues as Thapae road to the Ping River. 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.
Official Name: Wat Phra Singh
Address: 2 Samlarn Rd, Phra Sing, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200
Opening Hours: Wat Phra Singh is open every day from Monday-Sunday – 6:00 am to 5:00 pm
Tickets: Free entrance (sometimes it could be 20 BHT for foreigners)
Hotels Near Wat Phra Singh: Find the best deals here!
Enjoy the day!
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Continue reading this series:
Wat Chiang Man: The Oldest Temple in Chiang Mai