See It, Wat Chedi Luang, In the Center of Chiang Mai City

cm centerWat Chedi Luang (Thai: วัดเจดีย์หลวง, lit. temple of the big stupa) is a Buddhist temple in the historic center of Chiang Mai, Thailand. The current temple grounds were originally made up of three temples — Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Ho Tham and Wat Sukmin. It’s a very very nice spot. If you live in Chiang Mai, or visit, make it a point to visit.

The construction of the temple started in the 14th century, when King Saen Muang Ma planned to bury the ashes of his father there. After 10 years of building time it was left unfinished, later to be continued after the death of the king by his widow. Probably due to stability problems it took until the mid-15th century to be finished during the reign of king Tilokaraj. It was then 82 meters high and had a base diameter of 54 meters, at that time the largest building of all Lanna. In 1468, the Emerald Buddha was installed in the eastern niche. In 1545, the upper 30 meters of the structure collapsed after an earthquake, and shortly thereafter, in 1551, the Emerald Buddha was moved to Luang Prabang.

In modern times the temple was rebuilt from its original Lanna style to a more Thai style temple. This caused some controversy considering Chiang Mai significance as the cultural heart of the Lanna Kingdom. It’s still pretty impressive and is in the heart of the old city. The day I went it was empty which made it seem that much more imessive…

While you’re out grab a bite to eat. These are good choices.

Thais That Bind – Catchy name, near the front entrance to the Wat, serves inexpensive Thai food in a casual atmosphere. Good Khao Soi, also has vegan dishes. Serves smoothies as well as alcohol. The service is OK, not great but not bad and it’s near a few hotels and the Sunday walking market. Prices are good. Look for the big blue awning.

En-Amour – A somewhat fancy coffee shop that has both a boutique and gallery. The prices are a bit high, and the café serves hot and cold coffee drinks and smoothies as well as desserts. Sandwiches, pasta and western food are featured on the menu.

Pacamara – More like a coffee shop then a place for a sit down meal. Has very good coffee and the interior looks like a western café (think any big city). It has outside seating too, and the coffee drinks are highly rated. It also serves cakes and other sweets. Nice place.

Huen Phen – A personal favorite of mine so I’m a bit biased. It’s open only during the day and it gets very crowded. This place in my opinion has the best Khao Soi in town. Also, try the barbequed chicken, but it runs out quick so get there early. Many menu items, very casual dining. The only drawback (besides the crowd) is it gets kind of hot inside. Prices are very good.

Beetroot Stories – The vegan and vegetarian option on the list. Not my cup of tea, but I hear that it serves good food at very good prices. It’s located near several other places to eat, sort of like an outdoor food court. Gets good reviews from some of my vegetarian friends.

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