Ask a digital nomad what their favorite cities are, and more often than not, Chiang Mai would be included in the list.
Aside from a temperate climate and low cost of living, it has other things Thailand is known for — great cuisine and fast internet connection.
Chiang Mai is also close to the border, and before visa policies were changed in 2014, it was really easy for the expats to go on a visa run by going to Myanmar and Laos.
The first time I visited was in 2014, and all I did was go to the night markets and weekend markets; if you love shopping, Chiang Mai is really a must-visit!
This time around, I went back to Chiang Mai with a few media people, thanks to Tourism Authority of Thailand (Philippines) and Thai Airways. I saw a bit more, including one of the most interesting temples I’d seen in the country so far: Wat Sri Suphan, Chiang Mai’s silver temple.
Located along Wualai Road just outside the old city walls, the silver temple (the ubosot or the ordination hall) is in Chiang Mai’s traditional silver-making district. The original temple — built in 1501 — is long gone, except for the boundary markers around the shrine.
Silver panels and silver-plated tiles make up the ubosot, each tiny detail painstakingly carved by silversmiths at the Ancient Lanna Arts Study Center. When we visited, there were a few of them hunched over the panels, coaxing details from an otherwise plain surface.
This is what they are known for — artwork featuring raised textures on a thin, silver panel. When you compare the products before and after the silversmiths are done, you would definitely say they are artists in the truest sense of the word.
Wat Sri Suphan remains an important center for the continuation of the silver-making tradition. New generations of silversmiths use techniques that have been handed down to them through centuries, producing silverware that show off the skills of the villagers.
From simple pieces like bookmarks and keychains, to the elaborate works of art that make up the ubosot, Wat Sri Suphan is fascinating indeed.
I was told that it’s also interesting inside the silver temple. However, I had no way of seeing it for myself, because women are not allowed to set foot inside the ubosot.
Right at the entrance is a sign that says “Women are not allowed entering ordination hall’s area.” According to another sign, it’s because “Entering inside this area may deteriorated the place or otherwise the lady herself.”
Not wanting to get deteriorated, I just went around the shrine. Given all the details carved onto the walls, it was a bit difficult to focus on one. It was interesting though that at the back of the shrine, some city names were carved on the walls. I wonder what it was all about?
So yeah, even if you can’t go inside the ubosot, I would still suggest that you visit Wat Sri Suphan. There’s plenty to see around it. There’s a monk as well who can give blessings — I’m not a Buddhist, but I did it. Who doesn’t need blessings, right? If you want to get something different, have a sak yant tattoo done by a monk. Someday I might do that!
Have you been to Chiang Mai? What other temple would you recommend there?
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Aleah Taboclaon is a freelance writer and editor. She likes running (completed one marathon, training for the next!), diving (PADI open water diver), and traveling with her Kindle. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also email her; she would love to hear from you!