Old City Temple Tour

  • Start Wat Phra Singh
  • End Talat Pratu Chang Pheuak
  • Length 2.5km; five hours

No visit to Chiang Mai is complete without a temple tour. Start with the best, Wat Phra Singh, home to the city's most revered Buddha image, the Lion Buddha, then stroll down Th Ratchadamnoen and turn right onto Th Phra Pokklao. In swift succession, you'll get to the gorgeous teak wí·hăhn of Wat Phan Tao, which deserves a good wander, and the looming mass of Wat Chedi Luang, the largest and grandest Lanna chedi in the city. Perform a ceremonial circumambulation clockwise around the stupa, then duck into the Làk Meuang (if you're a man – Buddhist rules dictate that women are not allowed to enter) to view the revered city pillar.

Turn on your heels now and follow Th Phra Pokklao north to the junction with Th Inthawarorot, where you'll see the postcard-perfect wí·hăhn of Wat Inthakhin Saduemuang, which enshrined the city pillar in medieval times, perched surreally in the middle of the road. This is a good time to pause for lunch at the ever-popular Kiat Ocha for some kôw man gài (Hainanese-style boiled chicken). Suitably refreshed, walk another block north on Th Phra Pokklao to the Anusawari Sam Kasat, and pay your respects to the three Lanna kings who founded Chiang Mai.

You are now in the perfect location to take in Chiang Mai's trinity of excellent city museums, the airy, Lanna-style Chiang Mai Historical Centre, the large Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre in a 1927 colonial building, and the Lanna Folklife Museum, which is arguably the best museum in town (all accessible on a combination ticket). If you can drag yourself away from the icy air-conditioning, continue north along Th Ratchaphakhinai to reach atmospheric and ancient Wat Chiang Man, the oldest wát in a city awash with ancient temples. To finish, walk on to the moat and enjoy the Cowboy Hat Lady's fabulous kôw kăh mŏo (slow-cooked pork leg with rice) at Talat Pratu Chang Pheuak.