Throughout my 11 day trip to Thailand in January 2020 I was was never really far from among the country’s over 41,000 Buddhist temples (Wat is the Thai word for temple). Clearly, I could not visit them all, haha. For some temples, I went out of my way to visit them, but in most cases, I just happened across them during my travels. The temples in this blog entry fit both scenarios and in all instances I have been amazed by their beauty.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Doi Suthep (the short name) temple, 15km from Chiang Mai, is one of the most sacred in northern Thailand. This temple was the first stop of my day tour in a mini van for which I was the only tourist onboard. Tourism is dropping off in Thailand given the increased costs to visit which has lead to increased tourism in neighbouring countries. Doi Suthep was built in the 14th century and is a working Buddhist Monastery. The featured image above is also from Doi Suthep.
Wat Pha Lat
Just a short driving distance down the hill from Doi Suthep is the less frequented Wat Pha Lat temple. This temple nestled in the forest was built during the reign of King Kuena (1355-1385) and was orginally used as a resting place for pilgrammers on their way up to Doi Sup.
Wat Chiang Mai
Located in central Chiang Mai, the Wat Chiang Mai is Chiang Mai’s oldest temple and holds some important Buddhist images including the famous crystal Buddha. Construction of this temple started in 1306 but was added on to over the centuries as evidenced by the varying styles of architecture.
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang, located in the historic centre of Chaing Mai, gets its name transated as the Royal Pagoda, or Great Stupa, Temple. King Saen Muang Ma initiated construction in the late 1300s as a place to house his father’s ashes. It wasn’t until the mid 1400s, under the rule of King Tilokaraj, that the temple was finished. The temple is in ruins, with one theory that it was destroyed in the 1549 earthquake. Another theory holds that King Taksin had caused the temple’s damage during his cannon bombardment to regain the city from the Burmese in the 1700s.
On the grounds is an ornately detailed shrine, where the City Pillar (Sao Inthakin or Lak Meuang, Spirit of the City of Chiang Mai) is locked away.
Also within the Wat Chedi Luang grounds is an open air pavilion with other Buddhist shrines.
Wat Mangkon Kamalawat
This temple, located in Bangkok in the heart of Chinatown, is the largest and most important Chinese Buddhist temple in the city. I visited this temple during Chinese New Year, you can see more details in the related blog entry.
Sanctuary of Truth
The Sanctuary of Truth is located near Pattaya on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand. It’s a newer temple of wooden construction that was initiated in 1981 and remains a work in progress with an anticipated completion in 2050. The temple is filled with traditional Buddhist and Hindu decorations.