By DAN FORTEZA
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If you look at the city of Chiang Mai on Google Map, you’ll see the square-looking area called the old city moat surrounded by massive walls and water gates. Yep, that is the downtown of Thailand’s Chiang Mai, often called the Old City of Chiang Mai!
In this blog, I will be mainly focusing on the best places to see in this historic Old City of Chiang Mai. I have listed my top 9 favorite places in this article which I’m sure will be worth your while as well.
But before we get started, let me pin those 9 places on the map. You may refer to the image below.
HOW TO GET AROUND CHIANG MAI OLD CITY?
There are several ways to get around the Old City of Chiang Mai such as songthaew, tuk-tuk, buses, taxis, and of course Grab! However, despite being a popular tourist city, the public transport here isn’t quite convenient to the level you may expect.
I would however suggest just going on foot since the places are not far apart from each other. If it tires you along the way, go ride with Grab bike or motor-taxi!
So install that Grab App as well as it might save you in times you need a quick and convenient ride.
If you know how to drive a motorbike, you can rent one. Just inquire with your hotel/hostel. I’m sure they know where to point you.
If you’re going as a group or you’re a solo traveler wanting to be in a group tour, I suggest you book a group city tour through Viator! Check out the button below.
Now let’s get started!
9 BEST PLACES IN CHIANG MAI OLD CITY
1. WAT LOK MOLI
If you’re staying on the north side of the old city (like the Nimman area,) this should be your first stop!
The color of Wat Lok Moli’s temple is very distinctive – with ivory white and reddish roofs giving the temple an eye-catching marvel. The details in the wood are also very appealing adding to the temple’s distinctive look. Its chedi (tower) is one of the biggest in Chiang Mai.
2. WAT CHIANG MAN
Wat Chiang Man is the oldest known Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai, so this is totally a must-visit for all history buffs out there!
The most striking part of this temple is the murals inside. Beautifully painted and colorful, they enliven the inside and are a joy to look at. Be sure to exit through the back of the temple to see more buddha statues around the perimeter and the lovely chedi (tower) in the back, supported by elephant statues.
3. THE THREE KINGS MONUMENT
The Three Kings Monument, situated close to the center of the Old City, is one of the famous and important landmarks of Chiang Mai. It is actually considered the “symbol” of Chiang Mai that’s why this monument should not be missed when you’re in the city.
PS: This sculpture is of the founding fathers of Chiang Mai Kings Mengrai, Ramkamhaeng, and Ngam Muang.
4. WAT PHAN TAO
Located beside Wat Chedi Luang (number 5 on this list), Wat Phan Tao served as a throne hall for one of Chiang Mai’s Kings of Lanna Kingdom. You’ll immediately notice the beauty of the exquisite Lanna-style wooden temple upon your entrance. It has a beautiful and elegant grace yet it’s simple at the same time.
At the back of the wooden temple, there is a very ornate golden pagoda with a lot of yellow Buddhist flags around it.
5. WAT CHEDI LUANG
The main attraction here is the chedi (tower) which is in the center of the compound – a giant stone structure sits in the center of a stone-paved square and just dominates its surroundings. Visitors might be surprised to know that the top 100ft is missing, fell by an earthquake in the 16th century.
The compound is large with a number of beautiful other temples and buildings within.
6. WAT PHRA SINGH
Located on the western side of the old city, it is a major Buddhist temple complex originally built in 1345 and has since gone several restorations throughout time.
Two of its most popular and stunning buildings are the Golden Pagoda and the main temple which enthrones the Golden Buddha statue. The temple gets its name from the Lions or Singh guarding the complex.
7. BUAK HAAD PUBLIC PARK
This is Chiang Mai’s oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city. It has a nice green space in the Old City and has a very peaceful park set on a small lake with nice landscaping and multiple areas to enjoy the shade, have a picnic, and just chill. There is a spot to feed the fish as well.
8. WAT SRI SUPHAN
Another temple complex in Chiang Mai that stands out from the rest includes the temples painted with silver. Truly a must-visit in Chiang Mai, not only for religious purposes but admiring the skills of people who created all their creative works for this place.
Unfortunately, women are restricted from entering the silver-looking temple, but there are other temples inside the complex that women can.
9. THA PHAE GATE
This is the Eastern gate of the walled city and the most known among the four gates. You can’t come to Chiang Mai and not see this!
It is a good place to end your Old City tour as it leads to the lively and buzzing nightlife of Chiang Mai. There is also the Tha Phae Walking Street and also a lot of coffee shops and restaurants nearby.