Chiang Mai, Thailand


We have just returned from a short family holiday in Chiang Mai, a place that I have not visited since the 1980’s.

Katam Corner, remnant of the city walls, reconstructed around 1800.

Chiang Mai is a bustling city located about 700km north of Bangkok. The fast growing metropolitan area has a population of a million or so but the city proper, with around 170,000 inhabitants, retains a small town feeling. At its heart is the charming ancient square walled town surrounded by brick ramparts (of which only fragments still stand) and a moat.

Three Kings Monument. Kings Mengrai, Ramkamhaeng and Ngam Muang are said to be founding fathers of Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai’s northerly location and moderate elevation of 310 metres above sea level produce a more comfortable climate and at this time of year the weather is perfect with mean December low and high temperatures of 15°C and 28 °C respectively and an average 8 1/2 hours of sunshine per day.


Good weather, friendly people, delicious food and a vibrant culture combine to make Chiang Mai  very attractive to tourists and it came in at 24th on Trip Advisor’s list of 25 Best Destinations in the World in 2014, though it dropped off the list in 2015 (not that I put much store in such lists).

Buddha Statue inside Wat Phan Tao.

Expats seem to like living in Chiang Mai and there appear to be a lot of long-term foreign residents here, including retirees.

Raming Tea House was built from teak in 1915.

Over 5 million foreign tourists and 10 million Thai tourists visit Chiang Mai annually and it seems most of them were in the Sunday Market at the same time as us. The crowds were crazy!

Traditional Tri-Shaw.
The cat was not for sale.

The Night Bazaar was less busy and a good place to shop for tourist tat, T-shirts, Thai handicrafts and souvenirs. Some of paintings being sold by artists here were of high quality.

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep.

There are dozens of splendid Thai Buddhist temples to visit, including the city’s most famous landmark, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. This temple is located on a hill overlooking the city at an altitude of 1073 m.

Religious Souvenir Stall at Doi Suthep Temple.
Songthaew Pick-up at Doi Suthep.

We travelled the 18 km trip to the temple in the back of a songthaew which is a pick-up truck with bench seats in the back. While this is a fun experience (like a jeepney ride in the Philippines) the diesel exhaust fumes inhaled on such trips are noxious and probably life-shortening.

Tuk-tuk driver taking a rest.

Tuk-tuks are just as bad and the sooner these ubiquitous methods of transport are replaced with non-polluting electric vehicles the better.

Mae Ping River Cruise Boat.

To experience some cleaner air we took a river cruise on the Ping River which runs through the heart of the city and is a major tributary of the Chao Phraya River. The two hour cruise was on a traditional teak rice barge and stopped off at the ‘Thai Farmer’s House’  where we could see exotic fruit trees, herbs and vegetables and admire a pair of large wild boars enjoying an afternoon siesta.  It was quite a touristy thing to do but pleasant all the same.


Air Asia has direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Chiang Mai making it a convenient and inexpensive place to visit for us Malaysia residents. We might go again one day.

Girl in Traditional Hill Tribe Costume Posing for Photos.

List of Asia’s Largest Reclining Buddha Statues

Wat Phothivihan, Kelantan, Malaysia

I have visited a number of Reclining Buddha statues over the years and I thought it would be interesting to find out how many more are out there. The answer is a lot!

Wat Chaiyamangalaram, Penang, Malaysia

I have trawled the internet to see if there is a definitive list but there doesn’t seem to be one. That could be because there are so many of these statues.  I started to piece together a list but gave up when I reached 30 as I kept finding new ones. The following is as far as I got, ranked in order of size (length). Needless to say there are very many omissions and errors.

  1. Yiyang County, Jiangxi, China – Length 416m
  2. Win Sein Taw Ya, Mudon, Myanmar – 180m
  3. Lawka Tharaphu Pagoda, Dawei, Myanmar – 75m
  4. Great Reclining Buddha, Monywa, Myanmar – 90m
  5. Chauk Htet Gyi Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar – 66m
  6. Mya Tha Lyaung, Bago, Myanmar – 58m
  7. Shwethalyaung Buddha, Bago, Myanmar – 55m
  8. Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang, Samut Prakan, Thailand – 53m
  9. Hoi Khanh Pagoda, Binh Duong, Vietnam – 52m
  10. Thich Ca Nhap Niet Ban, Phan Thiet, Vietnam – 52m
  11. Wat Khun Inthapramun, Ang Thong, Thailand – 50m
  12. Galagoda Temple, Sri Lanka – 50m
  13. Wat Phra Non Chaksi, Singburi, Thailand – 46m
  14. Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand – 46m
  15. Nanzoin Temple, Fukuoka, Japan – 41m
  16. Wat Xieng Khuan, Vientiane, Laos – 40m
  17. Wat Phothivihan, Kelantan, Malaysia – 40m
  18. Wat Lokayasutharam, Ayutthaya, Thailand – 37m
  19. Wat Hat Yai Nai, Hatyai, Thailand – 35m
  20. Wat Chaiyamangalaram, Penang, Malaysia – 33m
  21. Manuha Temple, Bagan, Myanmar – 27m
  22. Wat pamok Worawihan, Ang Thong, Thailand – 23m
  23. Mahavihara Mojopahit, Trowulan, Java, Indonesia – 22m
  24. Dazu Rock Carvings, Szechuan, China – 20m
  25. Jorakuzan Mantokuji Temple, Takayama, Japan – 16m
  26. Wat Yai Chai Mongkol, Ayutthaya, Thailand – 15m
  27. Gal Viharaya, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka – 14m
  28. Wat Chedi Luang, Chiang Mai, Thailand – 9m
  29. Shinnyo-en Ogen’in Temple, Tachikawa, Japan – 5m
  30. Gua Charas, Pahang, Malaysia – 3m

Sri LankaChauk Htet Gyi Pagoda, Burma

Finally, the smallest reclining Buddha statue that I came across is the Jade Buddha, Shanghai, China which measures only 96 centimetres but it is made of precious jade.