Visiting the stunning Silver Temple in Chiang Mai

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ July 1st, 2014. Filed under: Thailand.
The Beautiful Silver Temple in Chiang Mai

The beautiful Silver Temple in Chiang Mai

Finding a place like the Silver Temple (Wat Sri Suphan) in Chiang Mai

I may not be Chiang Mai’s number one fan due to the sheer number of tourists there but the city makes up for it in holding some great temples too. While most temples get a little repetitive for visitors the silver temple reboots you to genuine smiles again.

I’m surprised Wat Sri Suphan doesn’t get more publicity for it’s uniqueness. Indeed it was only while skimming through some photos in a magazine did I even come across it.

The Silver Temple offers a great welcome break for travelers visiting a lot of Thailands temples. Place it slap bang in the middle of your temple tour of Chiang Mai and it will break up the monotony gartuneed. If not, they serve good coffee there too!

Silver statue of Ganesha at the Silver Temple

Even Ganesha gets a look in at the Silver Temple

The Silver Temples background

The Wat Sri Suphan is one of the oldest in Chiang Mai. Built originally between 1495 – 1515 it’s been destroyed and rebuilt over the centuries. There are still boundary stones in the complex that show the original building. Within the complex there is a stone tablet over 500 years old. The language on the tablet is Faak Khaam which predates the Lanna.

The actual Silver Temple itself is now the main shrine or Ubosot. It’s made from silver which represents Yin endergy which is linked to the moon which in turn is meant to be very old and wise.

One of the silver panels depicting a scene from Buddha's life

One of the silver panels depicting a scene from Buddha’s life

Work on the actual silver temple only began in 2008 and is due to be completed by 2016.

Is the silver temple really made from pure silver?

Nope. It’s a regular building that’s been lined with silver panels. Some will also say that the silver panels are really just tin or aluminum that have been painted with silver paint.

Silver sheeting on the Wat Sri Suphan

It’s quite obvious the silver metal is fixed on over other materials however it does not take away from its beauty

A closer look at some of the on going work seems to confirm his. However that should not detract from the actual workmanship itself as it’s highly detailed. Indeed one has to marvel alone at some of the ancient buddhist scenes depicting stories from the Buddha’s lives hammered into some of the metalwork around the temple.

What’s more, inside the silver temple itself is one of the more beautiful interiors you will find in all Thailand. A mix of silvers, mirrors and bright colors make it stand out nearly as much as the exterior.

No women allowed inside

Women may not enter inside the silver temple

Women may not enter inside the silver temple – but you can hang outside if you want

Yes it’s true. Several signs outside the silver temple forbid women from entering inside.

There’s a sign outside explaining why:

“Beneath the base of Ubusotha in the monastic boundary,

many precious things, incantations, amulets,

and other holy objects were buried over 500 years ago.

Entering inside this area may deteriorated the place

or otherwise the lady herself.”


According to Lanna belief ladies are not allowed to enter the Ubusotha (silver temple)

In case you are wondering if the rule is enforced or not? It is. I witnessed several ladies try to walk inside and they were quickly ushered back out again. You can however see most of the inside if you step back towards the wooden area in front of the temple.

Join in for a monk chat

If you are interested in teaching monks english then on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm you can do just that. In return between 7:00 and 9:00 pm you can take part in an introduction to meditation with the monks.

There’s no charge for any of the above. But “donations” are accepted and signposted regularly around the place along with little donation boxes.

Silversmith at the Silver Temple

Silversmith at work on a side panel

Silver workshops

As you enter the main gates walk towards the golden temple then hang a left and go behind the coffee and juice stall. Back here is another highlight of the Silver Temple compound. There are several rows of silversmith workshops.

Most of the silversmiths are working on the paneling for the temple. This can be from large side panels to smaller window frames. Men and women follow designs sketched out over the metal and then simple panel beat it into shapes before flipping the metal over and carving out more intricate designs. It’s well worth a stop by if you visit the temple.

The Silver Temple in Chiang Mai

The Silver Temple in Chiang Mai is definately a must see temple

Sit down for a coffee break or juice

Lastly if the heat of Chiang Mai is getting to you then there are plenty of places to sit in the shade around Wat Sri Suphan. Grab a freshly ground coffee from the stall near the silver workshops or hopefully if there’s fruit there an ice cold fruit smoothy!

Travel Tip:

Try to avoid a mid-morning visit as that’s when the tour buses and tuk-tuks arrive and it can get crowded. Early morning or afternoons are quieter.

If that’s all too healthy for you then there’s ice cream or sale on the opposite side.

Now you can sit back under the shade of one on the big trees and enjoy the views.

interior of the Silver Temple

The beautiful interior of the Silver Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Silver Temple opening hours and directions

Open: dawn till late. You can arrive at dawn and hand alms out to the monks. At night the temple is often (but not always) lit up.

Directions: South of the Old City outside the walls. Off of Wualai Road which is where the Saturday Walking Market takes place.

Hotel search at the Longest Way Home

Planning on booking a hotel room in Chiang Mai?

Here are the best online rates guaranteed!

I recommend you try my own hotel search.

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16 Great responses to Visiting the stunning Silver Temple in Chiang Mai

  1. Debs says:

    Another great one Dave. Looks like you really like to find the temples that stand out from the others!

  2. Tara says:

    I wish I’d known about this before we went to Chiang Mai. Looks just stunning as you said. We stuck to the main temple route so I’m about to pull the book out and see if they even wrote about it!!!

  3. Susan Devon says:

    I was wondering where the monks sleep in these places? Is there accommodation for them here?

  4. Andi says:

    Ha, it’s like the discovery channel on your website. I never knew about things like this and the white temple. Any gold or diamond temples in the world?

  5. Robert says:

    Great photos. Looks like a really great place to just go an chill for a while.

  6. Su says:

    I wonder if it’s because women are not allowed in that not many people go there? I went about two years ago and it was completely empty there. Very nice to look at. But yes, no women allowed inside the temple :(

    • Yep. I look at it the same as no women allowed in the male prayer hall at a mosque and vice versa. Not many complain about that. I think because Thailand is so open it’s unusual to come across this sort of thing so it would naturally aggravate people.

  7. Malcom says:

    Great to learn about a new place here. Looks like they really want to make it into a new highlight of Thailand.

  8. Alex says:

    Always nice to discover new places like this. Glad to see it’s not pure silver otherwise it might be more popular!!