You haven’t truly been to Chiang Mai until you’ve visited some of its three dozen beautiful Buddhist temples. From Doi Suthep Temple in the mountains outside the city to a clustering of ancient temples within its ancient walls, here are a few of our favorites.
Wiang Kum Kam
Wiang Kum Kam, Chiang Mai
The ruins of Wiang Kum Kam, south of Chiang Mai, give visitors a glimpse of what the magnificent Lanna capital was once like. At the heart of the complex is Wat Chedi Liam, architecturally inspired by the Mahabodhi Temple in India but dedicated to the Buddha. The complex covers a sizable area—too large to explore on foot—so most visitors move from site to site by pony carriage, open-air tram, or bicycle.
The ancient city is often a stop on half- or full-day tours of Chiang Mai. Depending on the option chosen, you could combine a visit with a morning of cycling along the Mae Ping River, a visit to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, white-water rafting on the Mae Taeng River, or an early morning visit to Srisodian Temple to observe local monks receiving their daily alms.
Things to Know Before You Go
Wiang Kum Kam is a must-visit for history buffs and those looking for a break from the city.
Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to do a lot of walking; the site is spread out over several neighborhoods.
It’s a good idea to visit with a guide, as only a few of the sites have placards in English.
How to Get There
Wiang Kum Kam is located about 3 miles (5 kilometers) southeast of Chiang Mai. It’s too far to walk from the city center but makes for a pleasant bicycle ride. Alternatively, taxi and tuk-tuk drivers will be happy to take you there.
When to Get There
Since most of the complex is outdoors, the best season to visit Wiang Kum Kam is during the dry, cool months between November and February. If you’re in Chiang Mai during the summer, consider arriving first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the worst of the afternoon heat.
Chiang Mai National Museum
While some of the relics excavated from Wiang Kum Kam are on display in the on-site visitor center, perhaps the most important piece is housed inside the Chiang Mai National Museum. This four-piece stone slab bears one of the earliest known Thai inscriptions. The collection highlights the history of the Lanna Kingdom, making it a good spot to visit before or after a trip to the ancient ruins.
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- Chiang Mai Tribal Museum
- Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
- Art in Paradise
- Mae Ping River
- Elephant Nature Park
- Thapae Stadium
- Araksa Tea Plantation
- Saturday and Sunday Walking Street Market
- Wat Chedi Luang
- Warorot Market
- Baan Chang Elephant Park
- Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre
- Three Kings Monument (Anusawari Sam Kasat)
- Elephant Parade House
- Wat Chiang Man