Wat Phra Kaew is one of the oldest temples in Chiang Rai and was built sometime in the 14th Century. The date of construction of the temple is unknown, but the original name was “Wat Pa Yeah” (Bamboo Forest Temple).
The temple is important to the Thai people because this temple is where the Emerald Buddha was discovered. Hidden by the then King of Chiang Rai, the Emerald Buddha is the most revered image in Thailand.
Wat Phra Kaew / Emerald Buddha History, Chiang Rai Thailand
Although the Emerald Buddha has since been moved to the Grand Palace in Bangkok, the Thai people still come to this temple to pay their respects to the importance of this temple in their history. The Emerald Buddha is not actually made of emerald, but rather Jade.
Today, there is a 45-centimetre replica of the original image, also carved from jade. The building itself is built in traditional Lanna style with Naga snakes at the entrance on the stairs and a beautiful Viharn. There is a golden Chedi behind the Viharn as well as an orientation hall.
On the grounds of the temple sits a museum which displays artefacts and images from the Lanna Kingdom and visitors are welcome to visit the museum and walk around the temple grounds.
You can find the temple in the west of Chiang Rai city, just 300 metres from the Wat Phra Singh. It is within walking distance of the King Mengrai Monument, which is only 1.6kms away. As with all temples in Thailand, visitors should dress conservatively, with their knees, shoulders and midriffs covered.