Wat Phra Kaew is probably the most famous of the Buddhist temples in Chiang Rai after the White temple and the Black House. It is sometimes informally referred to as the Bamboo Temple of the Jade Buddha. It is the oldest temple of Chiang Rai dating back to the 14th Century and is home to a Jade Buddha replica of the original Jade Buddha discovered here (which now resides in Bangkok). Don’t mix up Wat Phra Kaew Chiang Rai with the one in Bangkok!
How to find Wat Phra Kaew Chiang Rai
It is located opposite Overbrook Hospital and if you are staying in Chiang Rai, it will be possible to walk or cycle.
#30Temples30days: temple #6
Entrance: Free (can make a donation)
How to get there: Walk or Cycle
Wat Phra Kaew Chiang Rai
Wat Phra Kaew was founded as Wat Pa Yiah or the temple of the Bamboo Grove (named after a species of Bamboo specific to Chiang Rai).
In 1434AD, lightening struck the pagoda (Phra Chedi) causing a crack that revealed the Emerald Buddha. The Emerald Buddha now resides in the Grand Palace in Bangkok. This auspicious event caused the people fo Chiang Rai to rename the temple ‘Wat Phra Kaew’ meaning the temple of the Emerald Buddha.
The Chapel (Phra Ubusot)
The chapel was built in Chang Seen style and is on a small scale. It was constructed in 1890AD and was first renovated in 1960AD.
The chapel contains the Buddha image Phrachao Lan Tong, the bronze Buddha image in the Subduing Mara position, or calling the earth to witness. Phrachao Lan Tong was brought to reside in Wat Phra Kaew Chiang Rai in 1961.
The Pagoda (Chedi)
The Pagoda (Chedi dates from the founding of the temple and is where the Emerald Buddha was revealed in 1434AD. It was renovated in 1952-54, 1900 and again more recently in 2015.
Chamber of the Jade Buddha
The Chamber of the Jade Buddha was built in traditional Lanna style and houses the Jade Buddha (replica) or ‘Phra Buddha Ratanakorn Navutti Wassanusornmongkol’.
At the bottom of the steps to the Jade Buddha, you will find numerous mini shrines and also several Buddha depictions of Buddha in different positions.
Many are guarded by Yakshas or guardian giants…
Hong Luang Saengkaew Museum
The Hong Luang Saenkaew Museum was built to preserve the heritage of Wat Phra Kaew. The museum is also free to enter.
Here’s a close up of the elaborate roof decoration…
Remember to remove your shoes before going in, as the museum contains a number of Buddha statues and shrines, so it is considered a mark of respect.
The museum houses a Burmese White Jade Buddha collection…
And also several Ganesh statues. Although Ganesh is primarily a Hindu God, Ganesh is also recognised by Buddhists as a bringer of wealth.
Where to Eat when Visiting Wat Phra Kaew Chiang Rai
I recommend that when you have spent the morning visiting Wat Phra Kaew before the heat of the day, you then stop off at Barrab for some traditional Thai cuisine. They speak excellent English and will recommend something from their menu and from the local area if you would like to try something new! I had a lovely Khao Soi (chicken) for less than a few pounds (main meals approx 100-150 baht).
Where to stay in Chiang Rai?
Connect Hostel for a clean kitchen, good value and free bikes!
Want 5* luxury in Chiang Rai with Spa and Pool? Go for La Meridien Chiang Rai.