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