*Wat Phra Singh (วัดพระสิงห์วรมาวิหาร, map). Probably Chiang Mai’s best-known temple, housing the Phra Singh image, completed between 1385 and 1400. Of most historical interest is the Wihan Lai Kham in the back, featuring Lanna-style temple murals and intricate gold patterns on red lacquer behind the altar. The walls of the chapel are covered with murals illustrating Lanna customs, dress and scenes from daily life. The lovely Lai Kam chapel houses the revered Phra Singh Buddha image. The temple is most attractive during Songkran, the Thai New Year, in mid-April.
*Wat Chedi Luang (วัดเจดีย์หลวงวรวิหาร, map). Almost in the centre of Chiang Mai are the remains of a massive chedi that toppled in the great earthquake of 1545. The temple was originally constructed in 1401 on the orders of King Saeng Muang Ma. A magnificent testament to Lanna (northern Thai) architecture and art, restored sections hint at its former glory. Wat Chedi Luang is also home to the “Pillar of the City”, a totem used in ancient Thai fertility rites.
*Wat Chiang Man (วัดเชียงมัน, map). The oldest temple in the city. Presumed to date from the year Chiang Mai was founded (1296), it is famed for two Buddha statues, which are about 1,800 and 1,000 years old, respectively. Enshrined in Wat Chiang Man is a tiny crystal Buddha called Pra Seh-Taang Kamaneeee, which is thought to have the power to bring rain. Another image, called Phra Sila Khoa, reflects the fine workmanship of Indian craftsmen from thousands of years ago.
*Wat Chet Yot (วัดเจ็ดยอด. Also called Wat Jet Yot or Wat Jed Yod, map). The history and unusual architecture scattered under the yawning canopy of ancient trees is an pleasant antidote to the flash and bustle encountered at popular temples. Remnants of the graceful stucco relief murals that adorned the walls depict angels with a distinctly Indian flavour. The grounds also hold some more recently built, but abandoned looking, eroded chedis and buckling bases of vanished halls.
*Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพ, 18 km from the city, map). The quintessential image of Chiang Mai with its large gilded chedi, visible from the city on a clear day. Built in 1383 during the Lanna Thai period. The climb may be a strain in the high altitude’s thin air for the less fit, so you may opt to take the cable car for 20 baht. For the Visaka Bucha holiday around May each year, it is traditional for people to walk from the zoo to the temple and vast numbers make the pilgrimage to the top, which takes around 4–5 hours.
Wat Si Suphan (Silver temple, map). The Ubosot building of the temple is completely covered with a layer of silver, particularly impressive when illuminated in the evening. Decorated with detailed ornaments. Sometimes silversmiths on site are adding or renewing the decoration. Conversations with monks and an introduction to meditation are also offered in the temple. Women are not allowed to enter the interior of the Ubosot building.