Though not as famous or significant like Wat Chedi Luang or Wat Phra Singh, Wat Phan Tao definitely holds the title for one of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai. The name literally means “the temple of a thousand kilns” and some believe that it is because the temple held large ovens which were used in casting Buddha images adjoining neighbor, Wat Chedi Luang. Wat Phan Tao was created as an ancillary temple to the royal temple of Wat Chedi Luang.
History shows, that the edifice was not originally created to be a temple but only a royal palace building for the ruler of Chiang Mai, Chao Mahawong. However, in 1876, the old royal palace building was refurbished and created into a monastery. Some remnants from the ruler’s time still show. For example, a few of the decorations in the building depict dogs and it is believed that the dog is the zodiac sign of the year the ruler.
One of the primary attractions inside the temple premises is the viharn which is entirely crafted out of teak panels over a stone base. It is claimed to be one of the last remaining all-wooden structures in the entire city.The front facade is specially striking. Inside the viharn, huge teak pillars, painted red, offer support to the building. Opposite the entrance is the magnificent golden Buddha statue which is the Wat Phan Tao’s primary Buddha image.
Apart from the above, the interiors also house several fascinating items which include but are not limited to a number of old wooden boxes decorated with gold leaf containing old Dhamma texts and Buddhist scriptures written on palm leaves.
The temple is located right next to Wat Chedi Luang which is one of the two most famous temples in the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand. It is located close to the center of the old walled part of Chiang Mai just South of Ratchadamnoen road. The main entrance is on Phra Pok Klao road that runs North to South through the old city.