If I look back to all my journeys in Thailand over the past years, the Northern Region is probably the part of the country where I spent the longest time. I love the nature and the mountains especially during the green season, the rice fields, the Lanna traditions, the festival, the food, the people and of course the temples. There are so many beautiful, peaceful and sometimes surprising ‘wat’ –the Thai word for ‘temple’.
Here are my ten favourite ones.
Wat Chalerm Phrakiat Phrachomklao Rachanuson (Lampang)
Located in Chae Hom district, 64 kilometres from Lampang city, Wat Chalerm Phrakiat Phrachomklao Rachanuson is probably my favourite mountain temple in Thailand. With its elements built on the peaks of a rocky mountain and the amazing views over the valley it’s definitely worth a visit!
Note that the temple is busier on weekends.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (Chiang Mai)
It is probably the most famous temple in Northern Thailand. Located on Doi Suthep mountain, 15 km from Chiang Mai city, you can access to the temple by climbing 309-step Naga staircase or taking a cable car. The highlight of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is its huge golden chedi. From the temple, visitors can also enjoy a nice view over Chiang Mai city.
Wat Palad (Chiang Mai)
On the road ascending to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a few kilometres after Chiang Mai Zoo, there is a lesser known temple that many visitors miss: Wat Palad. Also called Wat Sakithaka, it is probably the prettiest forestry temple in Chiang Mai province.
Wat Rong Khun - White Temple (Chiang Rai)
Wat Rong Khun is a completely white temple located outside Chiang Rai city (13 km). Built by the Thai national artist Chalermchai Kositpipat since 1997, it’s quickly became the most famous landmark of the province.
Wat Phra That Lampang Luang (Lampang)
In Ko Kha district, around 20 kilometres from Lampang city, Wat Phra That Lampang Luang is a fortified Lanna-style temple built on a small hill. It’s one of the most important temples in Northern Thailand.
Wat Si Chum (Sukhothai)
Sukhothai Historical Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, attracting many local and foreign tourists but many foreigners only visit the central part and miss one of my favourite temples in Thailand: Wat Si Chum and its big smiling stone Buddha image. It is located in the Northern section of the park.
Wat Phra That Suthon Mongkhon Khiri (Phrae)
The main element of this Buddhist temple on the edge of road 101 is its beautiful reclining Buddha image with the rest of the place inspired by Burmese and Lanna architecture.
Wat Phra That Khao Noi (Nan)
People do not go to Wat Phra That Khao Noi, about four kilometres away from Nan city centre just for its common ordination hall and chedi or even for its long Naga stairways. They come for the standing Buddha overlooking the town - a nice viewpoint over the valley. It is a very popular place to go for the sunset but from there sunrise is nice too.
Wat Phra Sorn Kaew (Phetchabun)
Located in the district of Khao Khor near Phetchabun around 100 kilometres from Phitsanulok, Wat Phra Sorn Kaew is perched on a 830m-high hill surrounded by mountains. The highlight of the temple is its row of five sitting Buddha images from the smallest to the largest. It is unique in Thailand!
Wat Rong Seua Ten - Blue Temple (Chiang Rai)
This temple on the outskirts of Chiang Rai is quite recent and still under construction but its ordination hall with fine blue paintings and a white Buddha image make it one of the most beautiful temples I have ever seen in Thailand. Still little known by tourists, its popularity will certainly grow very fast!
There are of course many other nice temples in Northern Thailand. In Chiang Mai city alone, there are more than 300 temples. I don’t know about you but I never get tired of discovering new temples and will continue to explore the country and share my heart strokes with you.
About Michael Bauswein (Mike Thailandee)
Creator of Thailandee.com, Mike is French and travelled in Thailand from North to South and West to East for many years and shares his experiences on website in French and English. He’s also one of the winners of the TAT Newsroom Blogger Campaign 2017 Website: Thailandee.com