One out of the two most important temples in the province of Chiang Mai, Wat Chedi Luang, also known as the Temple of Kings, is undoubtedly one of the most prominent tourist sites in the city. Wat means Temple in Thai language. There is a continuous rivalry, a healthy one though, between Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Singh to claim the title of the most important temple of the city. The locals treat Wat Phra Singh as the most important although both stand equally important to visitors and foreign tourists.
The construction of the present day temple began in the 14th century and it once comprised of three temples – Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Ho Tham and Wat Sukmin. Wat Chedi Luang was also the original place of the Emerald Buddha which was moved to Luang Prabang in 1551.
Some parts of the temple are ruined or half destroyed due to various natural as well as man-made factors such as earthquakes and invasions. A few attempts at restoring the temple has been made however it is still far from its original state, nevertheless, still beautiful and mesmerizing. A major reason why the partly damaged “chedi” or the stupa hasn’t been restored is because no one known how the original one looked like. Go figure!
The temple premises and buildings now are a contrasting mix of new renovations and old ram-shackled sections. Some of the interesting features to be noted in the temple premises are the viharn and the “Reclining Buddha”.
There is a also a shrine that contains the city pillar of Chiang Mai, Sao Inthakin, which was brought to its current location from its original location, Wat Sadeu Muang, by King Chao Kawila, in 1880. Every year, a 6 to 8 days celebration is held in the month of May to honor the city pillar.
Wat Chedi Luang’s Monk Chat happens to be one of the major highlights of the temple visit.
The nearest airport is Chiang Mai which is connected to many cities and countries but it is a better idea to arrive at the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport as it has better connectivity to the rest of the world. You can take a flight further from Bangkok to Chiang Mai or avail the night bus or train. The temple is located within the walls of the old city and on the streets where the weekly Sunday market takes place. Take a yellow songthaew which drops you just outside the gates and the Wat is a walking distance from there. You can also hire a scooter or bike to travel within the city and drive to the temple. It is approximately 700 meters from Tha Pae Gate