Spending more than just a few days in Chiang Rai? I recommend a visit to the Elephant temple (Temple of the crouching elephants), officially called Wat Ming Muang (not to be confused with Wat Mung Muang!)
Visiting times – 8am – 4pm
Wat Ming Muang – The Crouching Elephant Temple of Chiang Rai
There is part of the main temple that is still being built (still under construction in April 2018).
Wat Ming Muang is free to go in and worth a look simply for the beautiful elephant statues.
The temple was built in Lanna style by Queen Ta La Mae Sri, King Mengrai’s wife as a memorial for his mother. Mengrai was the 25th king of Ngoenyang and the first king of Lanna. He established a new city, Chiang Mai, as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom Lanna Kingdom (an Indianized state centered in present-day Northern Thailand from 13th to 18th centuries). Wat Ming Muang is one of the oldest temples in the city and is as old as the city itself.
Vihara Mai Lai Khum
The main wooden vihara (lay person’s prayer hall) is Viharn Mai Lai Khum, a mixture of Thai Yai (Myanmar) and Lanna.
If you want to know why I ended up spending almost a week in the small Northern town of #ChiangRai, all you need to do is see these photos! It has some of the best #temples in #Thailand. Most people rush to see the White temple, Black House and Blue temple. #WatMingMuang is why I encourage you to #traveldeeper. #temple #Thailand
Always look up at Thai temples – the roof ridge is decorated with 34 swan figures.
Luang Phor Phra Sri Ming Muang
The ancient Buddha image stored at the temple is ‘Luang Phor Phra Sri Ming Muang’. The ancient stucco Buddha image is over 400 years old. The rays of light stream from the hair bun of Buddha’s head in a lotus shape, carved from semi precious gemstones.
Ming Muang Stupa
Head round to the back of the temple to see the Myanmar influences on the Ming Muang Stupa (Chedi). It houses the relics of Chao Nang Talamae Sri.
Sacred Water Well ‘Chang Mub’
It is believed that Chang Mub is an ancient water well, used to bring travellers good fortune before a long journey.
Visiting Chiang Rai?
The Elephant Temple is walkable from the centre of Chiang Rai (see directions on TripAdvisor)
Where to stay – Connect Hostel
What to wear when Visiting Temples in Thailand
What should you wear when visiting temples in Thailand? Dress conservatively when visiting temples in Thailand. Wear trousers or a long skirt and cover shoulders.
A scarf is a good thing to have handy in Thailand as you can use it to cover yourself if you are wearing a vest top or maxi dress. Men should avoid shorts and wear t-shirts or a smart-casual shirt.
You will need to remove your shoes before going up the temple steps so wear some comfortable sandals or shoes that you can slip on and off. Birkenstocks are a good option.