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Wat Ban Den

One of Thailand's best temples

Wat Ban Den is a spectacular temple situated an hour’s drive from the centre of Chiang Mai on in the Mae Rim area north on highway 107. If you don;t have transport the location is a minus. If you do or make the effort to get there then maybe you’ll miss some of the tourist rush that other temples closer in experience. I have seen plenty of wats in Thailand and I would rate this up with the best of them. Well worth the time to see it. Allow several hours.

This will be a pictorial post as the photos speak for themselves in displaying this beautiful wat. Not only are the buildings and interiors excellent, everything seems to be being maintained at a high standard, which is unusual in a land where the construction and opening party is everything and then there’s a decline into disrepair thereafter. The main problem with writing this post has been selecting the photos to use. I ended up taking over 200 and not many were duds. I have tried to restrain myself to the ones that give you an idea of the whole place, which is an extensive area. 

The following words are taken from an excellent resource provided by a travel company called Renown Travel. They have lots of well researched descriptions of Thai attractions and you can find their site HERE

The Wat Ban Den located North of the city is one of Chiang Mai’s most remarkable temples. It is also one of the largest temple complexes in Chiang Mai province. The complex contains a large number of structures including an ordination hall, a viharn, a meditation hall, the kuti or monks living quarters, a drum hall and several other buildings.

Although the structures of the Wat are relatively new, they are built in traditional architectural style.

When the Wat Ban Den got a new abbot in 1988 the temple was in poor condition. The new abbot named Kru Ba Tuang has managed to raise huge sums of money, donated by local people and Buddhists from across the country. Abbot Kru Ba Tuang has completely renovated the Wat Ban Den and added a number of impressive structures.

The wooden viharn and other structures

One of the more imposing structures of the Wat Ban Den is a very large Lanna style teak wood viharn with a three tiered roof. The viharn is an attractive building with its blue roof and golden barge boards, decorated with intricate wood carvings.

A number of very ornately decorated all wooden structures with a blue roof and golden chofah decorating the roof ends, some consisting of multiple floors are set on a white concrete platform. Several buildings contain detailed wood carvings in traditional style showing various animals and mythological creatures.

Many of the Wat’s structures are guarded by large mythical Naga serpents on each side of the stairs. All over the temple grounds are large white lion figures called Singha in Thai, acting as guardians.

When you arrive the temple building stretch from left to right, plus there’s more behind. We started from the far left and this post reflects the progression from left to right.

The area in front of the timber building in the photo above is a space given to a display of various monks who maybe had some influence in this temple or they could just be well known (to others) monks.

I have come across many of these monk statues in Thailand but never one with such a beautiful background.

Gaun paid respects to a number of the monks asking for good things for her daughter Peng, who we had just dropped off at university. Mums are the same the world over.

And one more. Gaun making the rounds.

It is unusual to see a black Buddha.

Not only is he repainting but using a groundsheet.

This area had just been refurbished too.

The views over the farmland to hills in the background. Typical Thai rural.

These photos are taken underneath that large wooden building. Huge natural timbers.

I love the reclining Buddhas. There are two we came across in this wat. Note the smaller gold ones in the background.

Built for super-sized monks rather than small Thai ladies!

Timber items in great condition. Often wheels and things like drums are well used. Not these ones.

The view to the rest of the temple from this space.

Walking back to the next building on the right. More construction happening, which is why we had to retrace our steps.

This is the main entrance to the lower level to the rest of the wat.

Love the dragons. No hanging back on the colours here. I show you where their tails end up shortly.

You remember the green and pink dragons in an earlier photo? This is where their tails end up after wrapping themselves around the building.

The green tail.

Brightly tiled chickens are in high demand here. It’s often all about the photo moment. 

A close-up of the detailing on the wall in the photo top right.

Behind the row of buildings at the front is another level again.

The building I show you on the right in the previous set of photos houses ths beautiful reclining Buddha. I saw a few visitors take photos outside but not venture inside where the best is there to be seen. Buddha’s head on the left and his feet on the right.

I have included a brief taste of this wat in the YouTube video above. It is in three sections and the final one shows you the reclining Buddha.

This looks like a swimming pool but is actually only green tiles.

You always need at least one pink elephant!

Thumbs up from Gaun. In typical wet season norm it looked like the world was about to end but no rain fell, thank goodness. The clouds helped make the sky more interesting in the photos. 

But the tigers weren’t taking any chances and were under the trees just in case!

It was a real pleasure to find this temple. It must have been around when we lived in Chiang Mai in 2013/14 but I never heard of it. You will find the Google Maps location HERE and I have included GPS coords below. I hope I have convinced you to add this wat to your essential Chiang Mai to-dos.

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  1. Adrian Martin

    Hi Tony.

    Marvellous photos! I visited this temple a few times while I was living in Chiang Mai, when it was still incomplete. It’s obvious that the project is now completed.

    Certainly a magnificent place now.

    Many thanks.


    • Tony in Thailand

      Thank you Adrian. This is a far better destination than Wat Phra That Doi Suthep as an outing and less tourists.


  2. Nobby

    Stunning photography as always Tony, the beauty of the temple and its architecture is breath-taking, thankyou for sharing.


    Chris and Nong

    • Tony in Thailand

      And thank you for the feedback as always Chris and Nong. It was a pleasure to see a temple so well maintained with such variety.


  3. Jim Busby

    Wow, Disneyland has some competition here. Very spectacular, and a short drive from Peng’s university, so you can visit more often. Yes, it does look like there is money here, and the abbot has done well securing donations. Everything looks fresh and clean, the way you would want the people who help take care of their wat to keep it, and hopefully for a long time. Many talented artists producing intricate carvings, wall decorations, statues and no outlandishly bizarre color schemes. In fact, the relief work in your opening photo shows that the three dimensional display works just fine without the addition of paint. Great photos and video to give us a real appreciation of this majestic place. Having just finished with your Bun Bang Fai fertility party, I sort of assumed you would have used the word cock over chicken for those statues. The Hongsa that Gaun is in front of are very well done. Lots of Spiritual Energy emanating from this wat. A definite must see if in Chiang Mai.

    Great post,


  4. Mel

    WOW! Stunning photos Tony. Such magnificent architecture, the carvings, the statues, the attention to detail in everything including the sculpted gardens. The shear size of the entire Wat is amazing. Definitely going on my “must see” list. Thank you.

    • Tony in Thailand

      Thank you Mel. I was very pleased to have found it. It was a recommendation of the reception guy at the hotel we were staying. Pure chance as I wasn’t planning on doing any sightseeing. Peng’s university campus is out that way and it was only another 20 minute further out. It made for an interesting break from a lot of university related sitting around.


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