Our favorite way to see a new city is on foot. Strolling around city streets allows you to take in the sounds, smells, and sites of a new destination and get a sense of your surroundings. Chiang Mai is a very walkable city; you just have to know where to go. Check out our self-guided walking tour of the Old City and surrounding areas.
Keep in mind that many sites in the Old City are temples. There are over 300 temples in Chiang, Mai so there is no way to see them all but our self-guided walking tour will take you to some of the most interesting temples in (and near) the Old City. Truthfully, at times we found ourselves getting a little sick of visiting temples. If you are like us and you get a bit “templed-out” you do not need to go to all the temples on this tour but it’s always nice to do a little walk by.
The Old City of Chiang Mai is only a square mile(ish) in radius so you can see a lot of the area in a short amount of time. The walking route begins at Wat Lok Molee, just north of the Old City near the Chang Phuak Gate. The total walking distance of this tour is about 3.5 miles.
Wat Lok Molee
Your first stop is Wat Lok Molee which is one of Chiang Mai’s older temples. While experts aren’t sure when exactly the Temple was built, they suspect it was constructed at some point during the 14th century.
Wat Chiang Man
Wat Chiang Man is even older than Wat Lok Molee, dating back to 1296 when King Mengrai decided to build Chiang Mai and make it the new capital of the Lanna Kingdom. Additionally, Wat Chiang Man is home to the oldest known Buddha image in the Lanna Kingdom, dating back to 1465.
Coffee Stop: Ponganes Coffee Roaster
Break up your temple visits with a quick stop at Ponganes Coffee Roaster. Ponganes has some of the best coffee we’ve found in Chiang Mai so if you are looking for a cup of joe, Ponganes is your spot!
Wat Phan On
Wat Phan On is one of Chiang Mai’s smaller temples. Don’t be fooled; there’s a lot going on here. In the temple courtyard, you’ll find a coffee shop and massage pavilion. During the Sunday Walking Street market, the courtyard transforms into a food court filled with street vendors cooking up delicious Thai snacks.
Wat Phan Tao
Wat Phan Tao, translates to “temple of a thousand kilns.” The temple houses many ovens that were used to cast Buddha figures for the neighboring temple of Wat Chedi Luang.
Lunch Stop: SP Chicken
After visiting so many temples, you may have worked up an appetite. SP Chicken serves up delicious, bone-in, Kai Yang (roast chicken) by the whole or half portion. You can’t go wrong with this tasty, protein-packed lunch!
Wat Pra Sing
Wat Pra Sing is one of Chiang Mai’s most popular temples. Hundreds of pilgrims travel to Wat Pra Sing to see the famous Buddha image known as Phra Singh (Lion Buddha), which is housed a small chapel on site.
Nong Buak Haad Public Park
After your visit to Wat Phra Sing head over to Nong Buak Haad Park for a little break from temple visits. The park is located in the southwest corner of the Old City. While the park itself is quite small, there are some walking paths and beautiful flower gardens.
Wat Sri Suphan (the Silver Temple)
Most people don’t know that Thailand’s only silver temple is located just outside Chiang Mai’s Old City. Wat Sri Suphan was one of our favorite temples in Chiang Mai and we recommend all visitors stop by. Keep in mind that women are not allowed to enter the temple, but don’t worry ladies, the temple is pretty incredible from the outside.
Chiang Mai Gate
After walking for a few hours, you’ll need a snack to replenish your energy. There is no better place to stop for a delicious pick-me-up than the market at the Chiang Mai gate. There are food stalls open all day but the majority of vendors set up around 5 pm.
- Before entering a temple, remove your hat, sunglasses, and shoes.
- Turn off or silence your mobile phone.
- Most temples have donation boxes. A typical donation is 20 baht but feel free to give how much you are comfortable with.
- When greeting a monk, assume the respectful “wai” position. Place your palms together, close to your body, at chest level. While bowing slightly, lower your head until your thumbs touch your forehead in between your eyebrows. Be aware that monks traditionally do not return a wai.