The northern Thai city of Chiang Rai is home to a large assortment of Buddhist temples, or wats. With so many to see, it can be hard to know where to start prioritizing. Luckily, we’re here to help. See below for our top picks of Chiang Rai temples.
Wat Rong Khun
Set just outside of town, Wat Rong Khun—better known as the White Temple—is one of the most unusual sacred structures in the region. Built in the late 1990s by an eccentric Thai artist, its all-white facade is covered with glass shards that give it an all-over sparkle. Inside, the temple features traditional images of Buddha as well as murals depicting Superman, Batman, and Neo from The Matrix.
Wat Phra Kaew
This hugely revered temple complex once housed the famous Emerald Buddha, one of Thailand’s holiest icons. Though the original now lies in Bangkok, an exquisite replica made of jade can be seen alongside other Buddha images in Wat Phra Kaew’s museum.
Wat Phra Singh
One of the oldest temples in Chiang Rai, this historic compound dates back to the late 14th century. Here, you’ll find carvings by local artists and a copy of the sacred Phra Singh Buddha, aka “Lion Buddha,” a revered Buddha image housed in Wat Phra Singh temple in Chiang Mai.
Wat Rong Sear Tean
Located just outside Chiang Rai town center, this modern temple is one of the most colorful in Northern Thailand. As its colloquial name—the “Blue Temple”—suggests, Wat Rong Sear Tean has a magnificent blue interior with intricate carvings, gold accents, and a large white statue of a seated Buddha.
Wat Huai Pla Kung Temple
Located 3.7 miles (six kilometers) from Chiang Rai, this 21st-century temple is known for its nine-tiered pagoda, which offers excellent views of the surroundings, and its large statue of Bodhisattva, which sits on the hilltop.