7 Reasons to Visit Wat Suan Dok Temple in Chiang Mai

Wat Suan Dok is a Buddhist temple located in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was initially built by King Kue Na in the 14th century as a royal crematorium – the remains of members of the royal family were cremated here. Since then, it has become an important place of worship for locals who come here to pray and pay their respects to Lord Buddha.

The temple is also a popular tourist destination where visitors from all over the world come to admire its stunning architecture and learn about its rich history.

The temple is interesting both visually and historically. From the first glance you will notice the abundance of bright white color, which envelopes the whole territory of the temple. The center of it is the gilded chedi otherwise called stupa.

48-meter chedi is surrounded by many-headed mythical snakes – nagas, they are a favorite element of the architecture of many temples of Northern Thailand. Inside the chedi is said to contain the most ancient relics: the relics of Gautama Buddha.

An interesting story links Wat Suan Dok with Chiang Mai’s most popular temple, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. According to ancient records, during the laying of the Buddha’s relics in the central stupa of Wat Suandok, this unexpectedly and miraculously bifurcated. This had never happened before in these lands.

The king was faced with the difficult choice of what to do with the second part of the relics. According to tradition, it had to be deposited in another, new temple, but there were no suitable temples to house the Buddha relics at the time.

The relics were then placed on the back of the royal white elephant and let fate itself decide where the temple would be built. In the place where the elephant stopped after a long wander, the temple that is now known as Doi Suthep was built.

Location And Accessibility

Wat Suan Dok is located west of Chiang Mai, about 3 kilometers from the city center. It is easily accessible by public transportation, with buses and tuk-tuks running regularly to and from the temple. The trip will take about 5-10 minutes and will not cost more than 40 baht.

Entrance to Wat Suandok is completely free, but donations of a reasonable amount are welcome to support the temple and the monastic community. Wat Suandok is located on Suthep Road near Chiang Mai University.

Site And Architecture

The temple consists of two main parts, the inner courtyard, and the outer courtyard. The inner courtyard contains several statues of Buddha and mythological celestial beings. In contrast, the outer courtyard has chedis (bell-shaped structures) and mondops (square pavilions).

The architecture of Wat Suan Dok is also quite remarkable – its white walls are decorated with intricate stucco and decoration, and elegant spires crowned with gold and silver pagodas.

Major Attractions

The temple is home to many attractions, such as a statue of the reclining Buddha and a Lanna-style chedi. There is also a library containing numerous Buddhist scriptures that visitors can study. In addition, various religious Buddhist events and ceremonies are regularly held at Wat Suan Dok.

Chedi Wat Suan Dok

A large 48-meter chedi shaped like a bell, built in the Sri Lankan style in 1373, which can be seen from afar. It is believed to contain a relic of the Buddha. The ramps leading to the chedi are decorated with seven-headed nagas, typical of the classical Lanna style.

Ceremony Hall

The large Kan Prian Hall, which means “preaching hall” in Thai, is right next to the main chedi to the east. The famous monk Phra Khruba Siwichai built it in 1932. He also made the ubosot and fixed up the main chedi.

Inside the hall, the main Buddha statues are set up to look in opposite directions. The Buddha sitting in meditation (Bhumisparsha Mudra) is shown with his back to the east.

If you are interested in the meanings of the Buddha’s mudras, you can read the meanings of these by downloading a PDF file from Stanford University’s website

Another figure, a standing Buddha with a bundle of straw in his hand, faces west toward the chedi. In front of the sitting Buddha statue stands a small Lanna-style Buddha from King Kue Na’s time. The feet of this statue is unusual because each toe is shaped differently. This is a style that came from Sri Lanka. Other Buddha statues, some of which are from the 1930s, stand on either side of these images.

Traditionally, all Buddha statues should face east, toward the rising sun. Here, however, the two Buddha statues have their backs to each other, with the Buddha in the lotus pose facing east and the standing Buddha facing west. The reason for this is obvious – the chedi that is located here. It is the sacred chedi that the second statue looks at, as it is no less revered here than the sun.

Phra Chao Kao Tue

The 4.7-meter statue of the Buddha Phra Chao Khao Tue, made of bronze in 1504, is also very famous among the people of Thailand. It is a combination of different artistic styles of Thailand, the elongated phalanges of the fingers attribute the statue to the Sukhothai style, and the features of the clothing – to the style of the kingdom of Ayutthaya.

It is worth specifying that the statue is located in the ubosot, a room for special ceremonies and monks, and women are strictly forbidden to enter. For lay men, the ubosot is open only a few days a year.

Mondops

However, the first thing that will surprise you here is not a stupa, but shining white dozens of small chedis, which are actually the repositories of ashes of the royal family members and rulers of Chiang Mai.

Unusual “cemetery” began when in the early twentieth century, a princess named Dara Rasmi, who is the wife of King Rama V and daughter of Ruler of Lanna King Inthavichayanon, decided to collect together the ashes of their ancestors, which at the time were located in various temples and palaces of Chiang Mai.

Celebrations, Rituals & Events

Throughout the year, Wat Suan Dok hosts some significant events, including the annual temple fair held in June. The fair attracts thousands of pilgrims to celebrate Buddhism and participate in various religious activities. The temple also hosts rituals and ceremonies, such as reciting prayers and meditation.

What Monks Do At The Temple

Monks at Wat Suan Dok are responsible for caring for the temple grounds and conducting religious activities such as prayers, teaching meditation, and ritual ceremonies. They are also custodians of the temple’s unique collection of scriptures and other religious artifacts.

How To Dress Etiquette When Visiting The Temple

When visiting Wat Suan Dok, it is essential to dress modestly and respectfully. Both men and women should cover their arms and legs, wear skirts or long pants, and remove their shoes before entering buildings. T-shirts, shorts, and other revealing clothing are unacceptable and should be avoided.

What To Expect During A Visit To Wat Suan Dok

When visitors arrive at the temple, a relaxed atmosphere awaits them. There are many rooms to explore, including the main prayer room, meditation room, and library. Visitors can also learn more about Thai culture and religion by participating in traditional activities such as offering monks food or a special blessing ceremony.

Respectful Ways To Participate In Meditations

Several meditations and chants are held daily at Wat Suan Dok, and visitors are welcome to participate. However, it is essential to observe the traditions and customs of Buddhism — turning off phones and cameras, sitting quietly, and refraining from talking during the session. In addition, visitors should not disturb the monks during meditation by keeping their distance and refraining from sudden movements.

Photography Rules

Visitors may take pictures of the temple, but it is important to ensure that you do so respectfully. Always ask permission before photographing people, and be aware of any actions that might be seen as interfering or intrusive. Remember to be polite when photographing worshippers and never take pictures of private areas of the temple. Never turn your back on a statue of Buddha in Ubosot or Viharn.

Cultural Differences To Be Aware

Since this is a Buddhist temple, visitors should be mindful of local customs and traditions. For example, always show respect when participating in activities, such as taking off your shoes when necessary, and remember that some places may be considered sacred. Also, visitors should dress modestly and avoid excessive noise when visiting the temple.

Don’t climb sacred mausoleums or the walls around mongdops! First, it is disrespectful to the shrines of the rulers of the Lanna Kingdom, as well as to any deceased person. Secondly, you disgrace yourself in the eyes of local people because you show your lack of culture.

Safety & Security Tips

As with all tourist sites, visitors should always be mindful of their surroundings and keep their belongings safe. For example, do not leave valuables unattended, and keep your passport and other documents safe. Also, be aware of pickpockets, especially in crowded places, and never leave bags or purses alone.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Wat Suan Dok is a beautiful temple complex located in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
  • The temple complex is home to several important and beautiful Buddhist temples, statues and monuments.
  • The temple complex is surrounded by lush and peaceful gardens, making it the perfect spot for a relaxing stroll.
  • The temple hosts several events and cultural activities, making it a great spot for visitors to experience the local culture.
  • The temple complex is also a great spot for photography, with stunning views of the temples and gardens.

Cons

  • The temple complex can get crowded during peak times.
  • Some parts of the temple complex are not accessible to visitors, due to religious restrictions.
  • The temple complex is subject to strict rules and regulations, which must be adhered to.
  • The area can be noisy, due to the nearby traffic and construction.

YT Review

FAQ

Sure, Wat Suan Dok is definitely worth a visit. It is a beautiful temple with a rich history and plenty of interesting sights to explore.

Wat Suan Dok is located in Chiang Mai, Thailand. To get there, you can take a taxi, tuk-tuk, or songthaew from the city center.

Wat Suan Dok is open from 8:00am to 5:00pm daily.

Around Wat Suan Dok, you can explore the temple grounds, visit the nearby Wat Chedi Luang, and take a stroll through the nearby flower gardens.

There are many cafes and eateries nearby, as well as McDonald’s. A 2-minute drive away is Nimmanhemind, the most famous tourist area of the city, where you can find all kinds of food for every taste.

If you are traveling in Chiang Mai, you can rent a motorbike from our company. If you find any inaccuracies in the article, feel free write to us by e-mail or in the comments.

Cat Motors Team

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