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City of Chiang Mai: A Walking Tour of Golden Temples

Summary. With a population of roughly 130,000, this largest city in northern Thailand is a little over an hour by air from Bangkok. Chiang Mai's old town is walkable and filled with great restaurants, beautiful temples, and shopping, includes a lovely night market. Our first hours in Chiang Mai began with a self-guided walking tour of just a few of the City's couple dozen Wats (temples). There are many walking tour itineraries available online if you google "Chiang Mai Self-Guided Walking Tours." We found this one particularly helpful. This activity was a nice break from the faster paced tours of Bangkok and a perfect introduction to this great City. If you do any shopping along the way, note that pricing with street vendors is flexible and bargaining is common and expected.

Wat Phra Singh (Gold Temple): One of our favorite temples in Thailand, Wat Phra Singh is especially captivating. In this 14th century Wat, temple monks sit in quiet prayer or meditation, seemingly immune the to stream of visitors. In addition to observing prayer in the Wat, you are also permitted to walk the grounds which include the gorgeous gold spire photographed below. Not unlike the monks, a cat on the grounds also ignored us as we passed through.

Wat Phan Tao; Wat Inthakhin Saduemuang; Wat Chian Man: We continued our walk in Old Town Chiang Mai to visit three temples, Wat Phan Tao, Wat Inthakhin Saduemuang, and Wat Chian Man.

Afterwards, we spent time at the Lanna Folklife Museum (no photos here). Here, with a small entrance fee, we learned about the former kingdom of Lan Na and the Thai ethnic group, Tai Yuan, whom live primarily in Northern Thailand.

Our walk back "home." After our time in Old City, we walked back to our AirBnB. The first photo below is of a Chiang Mai school with teenagers doing exactly what our teens like to do (be on their phones). The second photo is a typical side street, this one leading to our residence.

Photographs of Monks. We have noted after our return that some travel blogs state that photographs of monks are not allowed. We cannot say if this is accurate or not. When we were in Bangkok, before our arrival to Chiang Mai, our guide never discouraged us from taking photos of Monks. We were however strictly advised of all the other common requirements such as covering shoulders and removing shoes. Our advice is to ask, if possible, the monk himself. In the photos above, these monks were being photographed by many people. Not that it this makes the conduct correct, instead we are merely pointing out that it was quite routine when we were there.


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