Discover the rich cultural history and significance of the Three Kings Monument in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This iconic monument symbolizes unity among three monarchs, King Mangrai, King Ram Khamhaeng, and King Ngam Muang, who joined forces in the 13th century to establish the Kingdom of Siam. Located in the heart of the city, the monument offers visitors the chance to explore nearby attractions, indulge in traditional cuisine, and immerse themselves in local customs and festivities. Learn more about the history of the Three Kings Monument and the exciting experiences awaiting you in our comprehensive guide.
If cultural history intrigues you, do yourself a favor and visit the Three Kings Monument in Thailand’s Rose of the North, Chiang Mai. This monument is a symbol of unity that stands inside the old city walls at the center where the original palaces used to be.
The Three Kings Monument is located in front of the old Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Center, and celebrates three monarchs who chose to join forces instead of invading each other’s regions. Locals consider this monument a shrine for the kings who were instrumental in forming what is now Thailand. As such, the locals often offer incense, candles, and flowers to invite the kings’ blessings upon their lives.
The monument is now the venue for many festivals, including the annual birthday celebration for the king and the Loy Krathong Festival. In front of the monument is a square surrounded by restaurants serving Western and local cuisine. Behind the monument is a museum and the Old Provincial Hall. And further afield, there are many places to see and experience.
So, whether you’re visiting during a festival or celebration or at any other time of the year, there is always something intriguing to discover when you visit the Three Kings Monument and its surrounds. Read on to learn more about its historical significance, plus the nearby attractions and activities to make the most out of your visit.
The Three Kings Monument was erected in 1984 to memorialize the culturally significant friendship between three Northern Lao Thai kings, namely King Mangrai, King Ram Khamhaeng, and King Ngam Muang of Phayao. Each year, this bronze statue is the chosen backdrop for the birthday celebrations of the Thai monarch; however, you will find reproductions throughout Thailand.
The three kings made history in 1296 when they formed an alliance to create the Kingdom of Siam in South East Asia. Before their alliance, parts of what is now northern Thailand were frequently invaded by neighboring kings, causing internal divisions within the regions.
The monument depicts the three kings working together to plan the city of Chiang Mai in the 13th Century, a new city symbolic of their alliance and new beginnings. As such, the monument is one of the older examples of monarchs working together for a common purpose, creating what is now Thailand.
A more detailed description of the three kings represented in the monument follows:
King Mengrai, the founder of Chiang Mai, ruled the Lanna Kingdom from 1292 to 1311. He founded Chiang Mai as the new capital of the Lanna Kingdom in 1296. As per legend, King Mangrai made a pact with the other two kings in 1287 to bring their warring to an end. Apparently, one of the kings seduced the other’s wife, hence their feuding.
King Ramkamhaeng ruled over the Sukhothai Kingdom from 1279 to 1298. He is a celebrated former Thai monarch credited for founding the ceramics industry in Thailand and creating the modern Thai alphabet.
This Sukhothai Kingdom incorporated a large portion of Thailand from the north to the south. Together with the Lanna Kingdom, the Sukhothai Kingdom represents a substantial portion of modern-day Thailand.
King Ngam Muang ruled the Phayao Kingdom from 1258 to 1296. He was the youngest of the three kings, and his kingdom was smaller, with fewer resources than the other two kingdoms.
Despite having fewer resources, King Ngam Muang is hailed as a folk hero for halting an invasion attempt by King Mangrai in 1276. Instead, in a strategic and symbolic act, he formed an alliance with the Lanna Kingdom, demonstrating that it is better to join forces than fight.
When visiting the Three Kings Monument, you can learn about the region’s history and immerse yourself in the local culture. For instance, you can learn how to prepare traditional meals, learn local crafts, or explore the museum. Below are some exciting things you can do when visiting the this famous monument in Chiang Mai.
The Loy Krathong Festival is a Siamese festival held annually on the night of the full moon in the twelfth month of the Thai lunar calendar. It usually falls in November, and although it is not a public holiday in the country, it is celebrated throughout Thailand. However, locals and tourists believe it is best enjoyed in Chiang Mai.
During the Loy Krathong Festival, Thais pay respect to the Buddha and the Thai Goddess of Water by releasing a krathong, which means a “lotus-shaped boat” into a body of water. Doing so is believed to bring good luck and fresh new beginnings. Some people even put in a few coins as an offering when releasing their krathong.
The Loy Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai coincides with the sky lantern festival, Yi Peng. For this festival, Thais release millions of floating illuminated lanterns into the night sky, a sight enjoyed only in Chiang Mai.
The square in front of the Three Kings Monument is surrounded by restaurants serving local and Western cuisine. However, for a real foodie experience, you can learn how to make local cuisine at one of the dozens of cooking schools – all within a short distance of the monument.
Alternatively, if you don’t feel like making food but want to try local delicacies, consider going on a foodie bus tour such as this one.
Chiang Mai has many places of interest for those fascinated by history. For instance, at the Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Centre and Lanna Folklife Museum, you can learn more about Chiang Mai’s rich history and culture. And, if you’re interested in learning about Thailand’s minority hill tribes, you can visit the Highland People Discovery Museum.
While walking around Chiang Mai, you will discover buildings with astounding architecture. One such example is Wat Inthakhin Sadue Mueang, an ornately detailed structure in the city’s center. Phonrat Witthayakon is another example of interesting architecture, although it isn’t as detailed. Many tourists will also find it fascinating to visit the Wat Chiang Man, the very first Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai.
If you’re an art fanatic, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn there are a few art galleries close to the Three Kings Monument. A superb outdoor art gallery is Bann Phor Liang Meun, where you can walk around their courtyard and admire stunning sculptures and carvings.
Suppose you venture further from the Three Kings Monument. In that case, you can visit other exciting and interesting attractions, such as their natural parks, gardens, theme park, and more prominent temples. To see some of these attractions, you would need to hire a taxi or tuk-tuk or use a bus tour. Otherwise, many of them are just a slightly longer walk from the monument.
There is no shortage of elephants in Thailand, and Chiang Mai offers a few elephant sanctuaries where you can walk with these semi-tame giants. Some elephant sanctuaries near the monument include the Authentic Thai Elephant Sanctuary, Elephant Rescue Park, and Elephant Sanctuary Care Park.
As you may have gathered, there’s a plethora of temples (Wats) in Chiang Mai. However, for a slightly different temple experience, you can visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. To get to this mountaintop temple, rent a motorbike, hitch a ride in a songthaew (a red taxi truck), or hike up the mountain (if you’re feeling energetic).
For those seeking Christian places of worship within Chiang Mai, you can visit the Orthodox Church of St. Vladimir or the Sacred Heart Cathedral. Both are relatively close to the Three Kings Monument.
If you are interested in forts and castles, there are a few near the Three Kings Monument. For example, the Fort of Ka-Tham is a fifteen-minute walk from the monument, while the Fort of Ku-Hueang is only thirteen minutes away. In addition, the Fort of Sri-Poom is where the city’s fortification began and is a part of the Chiang Mai City Walls.
Bhubing Palace is a forty-minute drive from the Chiang Mai, so it’s worth hiring a car for the trip. At the palace, you can appreciate its beautiful gardens and fine architecture. The palace was built in 1961 to accommodate royal guests and dignitaries visiting the area.
When you visit the Three Kings Monument and the local attractions in the area, it’s helpful to know a bit about your destination and what to expect so you can plan. For instance, in temples and spiritual regions, it is wise to ask permission before taking photographs.
The most favorable time for tourists to visit the area is between November and February because it is not overwhelmingly hot. January is the most popular time for tourists to visit the area, as it is a little cooler and less humid. The hottest month in Chiang Mai is April, sometimes reaching 40°C (104°F).
In April and May, Thai farmers burn their agricultural land to prepare the soil for the rainy season. Unfortunately, during this time, the air is filled with smoke, increasing air pollution and reducing visibility. As such, it is not an ideal time for people with asthma or other respiratory problems to visit the area.
The rainy season in Chiang Mai is from June to October. During this time, it is common to experience tropical downpours in the afternoons and evenings. The humidity during the rainy season is 30-65%.
The Kingdom of Thailand’s official currency is the Thai baht (THB), with the symbol ฿. One Thai baht is divided into 100 satangs. When exchanging money to get Thai baht, it is recommended to wait to get to Thailand to get the best exchange rate, preferably from an exchange booth. There are many such booths in Chiang Mai.
The official language in Thailand is Thai, though many of the locals in the tourist areas and larger centers communicate in English to a degree. Generally, Thai people are friendly to English-speaking tourists. However, they consider it rude if you know Thai but do not speak it.
Concerning communication, getting a Thai SIM card is worth it if you need to contact a taxi driver or phone ahead to book or confirm your accommodation.
Despite Chiang Mai being regarded as the safest city in South East Asia, one should still be aware of pickpockets in the area. So, it is recommended that you don’t keep valuables in your back pockets or sling your bag or purse over one shoulder.
Chiang Mai has a limited public transport system, but it’s still straightforward enough for tourists to get around. Here are some of the ways of getting around Chiang Mai:
Alternatively, you can explore Chiang Mai and its surroundings on a guided tour, where transport is provided (unless it is a walking tour).
Aside from the main tourist attractions such as the Three Kings Monument, temples, and museums, there are other activities to enjoy in Chiang Mai. If you’re keen to do some shopping, consider the following markets:
For an exciting activity outside the city, consider visiting the Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls. They are a popular tourist attraction because you can walk up the waterfall despite the water flowing. The stickiness of the waterfall is attributed to the limestone rocks.
Finally, consider visiting Huay Tung Tao, a reservoir frequented by locals. At Huay Tung Tao, you can rent a small cabin and a giant tube to laze on the water while you admire the beautiful surroundings.
If you’re planning a holiday to Thailand, be sure to visit the Three Kings Monument in Chiang Mai. In doing so, you will learn a tremendous amount about the history of what is now Thailand. Additionally, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the rich culture of the land and enjoy its cuisine.
To help you navigate around Chiang Mai, consider using an App such as GPSmyCity, which turns your mobile into your personal tour guide. What’s handy about it is that it works offline too. Additionally, be sure to check out travel websites such as TripAdvisor or Trip Hobo to read tips and reviews to help you plan your visit to Chiang Mai.
November to February, during the cool season when temperatures are mild and there’s less rainfall.
You can take a tuk-tuk, songthaew (red truck taxi), or rent a bicycle/motorbike. The monument is located in the heart of the Old City, making it easily accessible.
No, there are no entrance fees for visiting The Three Kings Monument. It’s a public space and open to everyone.
The Three Kings Monument is located in a public square and is accessible 24 hours a day, although it is best viewed during daylight hours.
Guided tours may not focus specifically on the monument, but many city tours in Chiang Mai include the monument as part of their itinerary.
The monument commemorates the alliance of three kings – King Mengrai, King Ramkhamhaeng, and King Ngam Muang – who worked together to design and establish the city of Chiang Mai in the 13th century.
The area around the monument is often used for local cultural events, festivals, and celebrations, such as Loy Krathong and Songkran.
Nearby attractions include Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Singh, and the Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre.
While visiting, be respectful of the monument and its surroundings. It’s also a good idea to dress modestly, as it’s a cultural and historical site.
Explore our pricing options for renting automatic scooters, maxi-scooters, semi-automatic motorbikes, and manual-gear motorcycles in Chiang Mai by visiting our Bike Rental Rates page.
If you’d rather journey by car, don’t miss our guide on how to save up to 50% on rental car costs in Chiang Mai.
For a comprehensive collection of our travel guides, check out our Northern Thailand Routes and Travel Notes section.
Should you come across any inaccuracies in the text or have valuable information to contribute for our readers, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
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