Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai’s Old City

– Walk to Wat Chedi Luang –  Chiang Mai –

Be very very still and allow every new experience to take place in your life without any resistance whatsoever. You do not have to do anything, you simply have to be and let things happen.

Eileen Caddy

Wat Chedi Luang translated as “Temple of the Big Stupa” dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries.  It was once home to the Emerald Buddha one of the most sacred objects in Thailand.  The Emerald Buddha is now displayed in Bangkok at Wat Phra Khaew, which is the first temple, I ever visited in Thailand and was an experience that has great significance personally to me.

Wat Chedi Luang - Chiang Mai - Old City
Amazingly massive and historical Wat Chedi Luang.

My first visit to Wat Phra Khaew was on my second day ever in Thailand and it marked a new beginning that opened my eyes to a whole new culture for me.  It sparked a desire to learn and experience more about cultures other than the ones I am already familiar with.  It’s even more special to me now that I know a little more history about it.

The temple chedi suffered some damage due to an earthquake, around 100 years after it was built and a few years after the earthquake the Emerald Buddha was relocated to Luang Prabang, Laos by the King of that period.  The statue even spent a few hundred years in Vientiane before it was  reclaimed by King Rama I and brought to where it has been kept until this day in Krung Thep or more commonly known by foreigners as Bangkok.

Wat Phra Singh Entrance to Viharn Hall - Wat Chedi Luang - Chiang Mai - Old City
Wat Phra Singh and entrance through Viharn Hall – Wat Chedi Luang is behind this more modern temple.

As for Wat Chedi Luang, the Burmese occupied Chiang Mai and the temple was never rebuilt.  The viharn or “assembly hall”  is beautiful and massive and is the first structure you will see when you enter temple grounds.  The viharn was built in 1928 and has a large standing Buddha called the Phra Chao Attarot.

Phra Chao Attarot - Wat Chedi Luang - Chiang Mai - Old City
Phra Chao Attarot front view with offering banners decorating the hall.

About 2 weeks after I’d arrived in Chiang Mai, I had to turn in my motorbike for a tune-up.  They want you to bring it in at least once a week, if you are renting it monthly.  I had about an hour to wait, so I decided to go for a walk to Wat Chedi Luang.  It is in the center of the old city of Chiang Mai.  I heard about it before, but I had only glimpsed the top of it while riding through the streets of Chiang Mai.  I realized later that I had actually passed by its entrance already a few times without realizing it during Sunday Night Street Market.

When I set off walking, I wasn’t even sure exactly where it was, but I had an idea so I figured I would find it eventually.

Phra Chao Attarot - Wat Chedi Luang - Chiang Mai - Old City
Sideview of the Phra Chao Attarot – Standing Buddha

As I walked down the block, I passed a few coffee shops, smoothie stands, restaurants, and other shops.  I eventually came up to a school yard where a speaker system was blasting some music that definitely had a reggae dancehall influence.  As I peered through the gate, I could see a group of very young schoolgirls dancing a routine to the music.  I pulled out my camera and then a bunch of kids approached the fence.  A few said “Hello!” in perfect English and the rest completely dismissed me.  They were way too busy playing games to pay a nosey foreigner any attention.  The girls dancing were adorable, and I will hopefully eventually post some of that video on this site.  I didn’t take video for long, because, I thought that might seem a little creepy.  I was just intrigued by the recess activities in a local elementary Thai school.

I continued walking in the general direction of the temple where I saw the top of it in the sky, and I found the entrance a few minutes later.  I stopped to take off my shoes at the entrance and a group of young women from Spain and their parents were about to enter the temple in their short-shorts, but were directed to grab some sarongs.  I was wearing shorts, but I guess they passed, since they covered my knees a little.

Inside Viharn Hall - Wat Chedi Luang - Chiang Mai - Old City
Instant friends from China. Can you tell they really liked me?

I took some video after I entered the viharn and only a few pics.  There was a moment when some monks entered and kneeled down to pray and everyone kneeled down around the same time, so I put away the camera and took a moment to pray and just be silent.

Shortly afterwards a group from China asked to take pictures with me.  After a few pics, one of the girls offered to take a pic for me with my camera.  They asked me a bunch of questions of course and we had a few laughs with communicating and trying to understand each other.

Nice girl from China. She took the picture above with the guys and the monk statue for me.
Wat Chedi Luang - Chiang Mai - Old City
Wat Chedi Luang – Buddha facing North.

The temple ruins were pretty grand as well.  I spent another hour or so walking around the temple grounds taking pictures.  Although it was a very hot day, I still enjoyed witnessing all the daily activities going on in and around the temple.  

Wat Chedi Luang - Chiang Mai - Old City
Zoomed in on Buddha – Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang - Chiang Mai - Old City
Young monks.

There was another school next to the chedi and it appeared all the kids had just gotten out, so they were running around and some were grabbing snacks from street side vendors.

Young monks were walking about and a few of us tourists were walking around snapping photos of the beautiful ancient and modern architecture.

Wat Chedi Luang - Chiang Mai - Old City
Wat Chedi Luang - Chiang Mai - Old City
Lying Buddha near Wat Chedi Luang
Ornate hallway.
Another small chedi. on the same temple grounds.

Wat Pakhao

After, I finished taking pics, I headed back to the motorbike shop and on the way I passed this small temple called Wat Pakhao.  I just happened to look in and it was beautifully landscaped.  I took a pic at the entrance and I took a pic of the sign, when this monk approached me.  He told me to come in and look around.

Wat Phakao - Chiang Mai
Beautiful little temple grounds at Wat Phakao.

His English was very good and told me that he had actually been to America before.  We spoke for a while and I am glad that I had that moment to actually speak with him.  Because that rarely happens.  I think I only had that opportunity one other time with these young monks from Burma who were getting their immigration papers at the same time I was.

Wat Phakao - Chiang Mai
Wat Pha Kao was getting some renovations done, but I still got a few pics.

I did tell him, that I loved the sign at the front, and he said I am always welcome to come back to speak with him and the other monks.

Wat Phakhao
I repeat…. Do Good.  Avoid Bad.  Purify one’s own mind.

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Author and Website Designer | Website | + posts

Brian Dennis is a full-time software engineer, some-time traveler and location-independent entrepreneur.

Chasing his passions in addition to travel in recent years has become a little challenging but even more fulfilling with his wife Betina and 1-year old son Divine.

Currently he is located in S. Florida and continues to share what he's learned with travel tips, guides and some motivating inspiration to encourage others to do more and experience more outside of their comfort zones.

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