Wat Phra That Suthon Mongkhon Khiri

If you are heading into Chiang Mai from the south and are on highway 11 then shortly after the turn at Den Chai you will come across this spectacular wat on the left. I have driven this road many times but have never spotted this temple for some reason.

I think that my eyes have always been taken to a timber place that is almost directly opposite and not to the wat, which is set back from the road. I also have to say that the best parts of this temple sits behind the reclining Buddha and you can’t spot them from the road.

At this stage of our drive to Chiang Mai we were about six hours into it with around another three to go. That never stops me from having a break to look at anything I think has potential and I am glad I did in this case. I won’t add a lot of words because the photos speak for themselves.

This destination would make for another enjoyable day out of Chiang Mai. The woodworking places in the area are just superb if you’re into the bigger less refined timbers, the timber sculptures are worth a few photos, there are heaps of roadside stalls and the cafe in Den Chai is unique (I will post later). The drive itself is quite hilly through forested areas and better than many alternatives.

The Google Maps details for this wat are HERE

This is the scene from the road. How come we haven’t stopped before is a mystery.

Gaun called this creature on the right a peacock but if that’s what it is he’s had extensive surgical modification.

Gaun called this creature on the right a peacock but if that’s what it is he’s had extensive surgical modification.

Gaunpays her respects at the entranceway.

Walk behind the reclining Buddha and there’s a walled area containing these beautifully presented buildings.

A bit of paintwork required but pretty spectacular.

The central buildings were surrounded by a covered walkway with Buddhas.

A small group of tourists were being lectured inside.

There were two of these guys. This on was sleeping but the other one was on guard.

The bell tower. This is unusual in that the normal style in this environment usually follows the red, white and gold theme.

This is a more traditional version located in our village’s temple.

These naves go all the way around this large area. Individuals will have donated money to have their ‘own’ Buddha, either a big one or a smaller plaque on the wall. 

These paintings are sponsored too.

In the same way work has just started in our moo ban’s new Buddha hall to paint murals on the walls. Smaller versions are sponsored for 6,000 baht each.

This is the far north lanna style of buildings.

These guys are helping hold up the dragon (naga so more of a snake) tail.

You expect them to walk off don’t you.

GPS coords.

I hope you enjoyed this temple. Add it to your list alone with Wat Ban Den a lesser known Chiang Mai one, which I think is outstanding too HERE.

Thanks for reading. Please leave a comment because it gives me something to read in exchange.

Tony

4 Comments

  1. Jim Busby

    That statue is Hongsa (mythical bird) which is sort of like a peacock, like your post on Wat Ban Den. Wow!, loads of money invested in this temple. And I thought Thais, didn’t have that much money! Very impressive, but a bit too ornate for my taste. Very beautiful and fresh and new, but will it stand the test of time, when the next big wat comes along to take away donations? I would love to know if there are stories behind each of the paintings, or if they are just depictions of a scene in Thai life, like many Chinese paintings. Yes, how did you miss this one?

    Cheers,

    Jim

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Thank you for that. I will add the name to the post. It’s amazing how one monk can inspire the generation of so much money and then direct it to constructing some of these amazing temples. They are pure Disney-Buddhism but I enjoy them all the same. This compound seems to be being maintained as well as more building work happening, which is an unusual change. Well worth a visit if in Chiang Mai. A little outside the city so hopefully less tourists.

      The paintings normally show scenes of Buddha’s life. Often they have descriptions underneath of the ‘scripture’ that relates to the scene but all in Thai of course. I am not a Buddhist, although I enjoy spending time with the forest monks, so I have no knowledge of what each painting might be illustrating, as I would in say a Christian version.

      It is always a pleasure to discover new attractions like this one. I wish there were more hidden treasures in my part of Isan but suspect we have found them all. Never say never.

      Reply
  2. Greg Carroll

    Very impressive Tony. The detailed craftsmanship, scale and beauty are stunning. Albeit the forest temple’s tranquility offers much more to me.
    Then the mercenary side of me kicks in and says, “But I’d sure like to have the painting and maintenance contract for this place.”
    Typical farang…

    The austere and humble lifestyle of the Monks and their piety in total juxtaposition to the ornate highly decorative buildings and sculptures. It’s a little incongruous to me, but I’m sure it makes perfect sense to Thais.

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      It is a great photo construct. I call it Disney-Buddhism, because that’s mostly what they really represent, an chance for that perfect selfie for social media. Unless you have areas for quiet contemplation what’s the point other than to fuel the generation of more money to build yet more photo opportunities. The forest wats are a lot more what the Buddha had in mind I am sure. Thias seem to be totally hooked into the concept of ‘buying’ their way to a better life, rather than doing the hard yards in changing themselves to become the Buddha (in my opinion).

      Good to hear from you.

      Tony

      Reply

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