Wat Phra Singh, reportedly the most important and religious Wats or Temples in Chiang Mai, should definitely be in your must-see places in the city. Often considered in competition with Wat Chedi Luang, this temple can be easily located near the famous Sunday Walking Street Market.
The temple was honored by the title of “Royal Temple of the First Grade” by King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII) in 1935.
The temple is named after its notable status of Buddha known as the Phra Buddha Sihing whose origins are yet unknown. Wat Phra Singh is also the epicenter of the famous Songkran Festival in this part of the country. Although it may be really confusing for you to figure which one is Wat Phra Singh considering Chiang Mai is most famous for its awful lot of Buddhist temples, but finding Wat Phra Singh is easier than it may seem. Personal suggestion: if you only have one day in Chiang Mai and can only visit a single temple, pick Wat Phra Singh, while you are here just squeeze in some more time and see the Wat Chedi Luang. Both are practically next door neighbors.
If you are hoping for beautiful lawns full of greenery, Lanna-style prayer halls, a magnificent Buddha image, a reclining Buddha, different types of Buddhas, giant chedis, ‘saffron-robed’ monks, a ‘monk chat’, prayer flags and last but not least, sticky rice and other snacks in the temple parks, look no further! Wat Phra Singh promises that you can tick all that off of your wish list with a single visit.
The temple has around three viharns which holds various Buddha images and figurines, a library, a gigantic chedi, and a few other buildings and small shrines. The temple premises also serves as great photo opportunities.
Wat Phra Singh is dated back to the 14th century and believed to be constructed by King Phayu, the fifth king of the Mangrai dynasty, who had the stupa built to store his father’s ashes. Along with a few other building and shrines built on the same grounds, the temple was originally known as Wat Lichiang Phra. However, it is believed that in 1367, after the important Buddha Statue, Phra Buddha Sihing, was brought into the temple, presented by the then king of Sri Lanka as some believe, the temple acquired its present day name.
Wat Phra Singh is an active Buddhist temple and f utmost important to the locals living here which means that there is no entrance fee to visit the temple however it is necessary that you dress properly – no exposed shoulders or disrespectful clothes.
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.