Wat Phra Kaeo Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Wat Phra Kaeo on Trairat Road is one of the most renowned temples of Chiang Rai as it was where the sacred Emerald Buddha had been enshrined since 1444 before it’s been relocated to Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok, with few stops at Lampang and Vientiane. Wat Phra Kaeo now enshrines an official replica of the Emerald Buddha made of green jade. The temple also houses a 700-year bronze statue of Phra Chao Lan Thong in the Chiang Saen style ubosot you hardly find.

Wat Phra Kaew (วัดพระแก้ว) is a third-common-class royal temple situated in the area of 10,640 square metres on Trairat road, Wiang sub-district, Muang Chiang Rai in Chiang Rai City, Thailand. The King of Thailand upgraded the temple to the royal temple on May 31, 1978. The temple gains historical importance as the place where the Emerald Buddha was found. It is also one of the main centres of Buddhist education and the Sangha’s administration in northern Thailand.

Wat Phra Kaew is famous throughout Thailand as the original home of the translucent green Buddha which graces the Emerald Buddha Temple in Bangkok’s Grand Palace. It was discovered in 1434 when a bolt of lightning hit an old Chedi. In the occasion of Princess Mother at her 90 years in 1990, Phra Yok Chiangrai, made of jade brought from Canada, a replica of that image was created to presides over at Hor Phra Yok, which was opened by Princess Kalayaniwattana on November 26, 1998. Wat Phra Kaew is also famous as the one of the royally endowed temple in this province. The abbot, Phra Dhammarachanuwat is the ecclesiastical head of all North Thailand.

Wat Phra Kaew is the temple where Phra Kaew Morrakot (the Emerald Buddha) or Phra Buddha Maha Manee Ratana Patimakorn, a national Buddha image of Thailand which is enshrined in Bangkok at present, was found. According to the history of this temple, in 1354 A.D. when Phra Chao Sam Fang Kaen was the king of Chiang Mai, a deserted Chedi was struck by lightning, revealing the gilt lacquer Buddha image. When it was cracked, an elaborate green Buddha image made of jade appeared. Wat Phra Kaew, then, was constructed to house this Emerald Buddha. After the real Emerald Buddha had been moved to Bangkok, Chiang Rai people came together to make Phra Yok, another Buddha image made of jade, for Somdet Phra Srinagarindra Boromarajajonani’s 90th birthday on October 21, 1990. It was enshrined at Hor Phra Yok with its wall decorated with the paintings of the Emerald Buddha and the paintings of the making and installation of Phra Yok.

In addition, the exquisite Chiang Saen-style main shrine hall housed a principal Buddha image, which Chiang Rai people called Phra Chao Lan Thong. In Thailand, it is the biggest and most beautiful Sippala-style bronze Buddha image in the attitude of subduing Mara. Phra Chao Lan Thong is extremely honorable by all the villagers since there are a number of people visited and worshipped it. As for the struck Chedi that revealed the Emerald Buddha, it is restored and is still shown. Another interesting place is Hong Luang Saengkaew Museum, an exquisite new museum. It displays variety of important Buddha images and Buddhist culture in modern style. The most important thing is that Wat Phra Kaew, a municipal temple, is located in the center of Chiang Rai Province.

For more information, contact house no. 19, village no. 1, Trairat Road near the city hall in Wiang sub-district, Mueang district, Chiang Rai Province, post code 57000. Tel. 0-5371-1385 or 0-5375-1875. Website:

How to get there:

  • from Ha-Yak Por Khun Mengrai intersection, turn left and go straight to the end of the T-junction. After that, turn left and continue for around 100 meters. Wat Phra Kaew is on the right.

Categories: Asia, Travel

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