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Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong, Chiang Rai Overview

Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong is a popular temple and religious spot outside the city limits of Chiang Rai, Thailand. Also known as Wat Phra That Doi Jom Thong, it is built on the tallest point in the city, thereby providing mind-stirring view of Chiang Rai skyline. There are also 108 pillars adjacent to the wat built in celebration of King Bhumibol’s 60th birthday. Because of housing these ‘city pillars’, the wat is also known as the ‘city navel’ of Chiang Rai.

Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong is said to have existed even before the city of Chiang Rai was established in 1272. The wat has a massive 14-metre (45 feet) golden stupa at its centre that evokes the ancient Burmese and Lanna style of architecture.

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Architecture of Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong

The key attraction here is the gold stupa (also called chedi) that sits in the centre of the wat. Evoking a mixture of ancient Burmese and Lanna styles of architecture, it is 14 metres (45 feet) high including its lotus-shaped base. At the top is a golden bell decorated with gold foil.

Beside the wat are the city pillars of Chiang Rai. Numbering 108 pillars, they are said to have been built in 1988. The outermost pillars are 5 feet thick and are placed in lines while the inside pillars are arranged in several concentric circles. These circles are believed to symbolize the universe, echoing Buddhist and Hindu theology. The water troughs surrounding the pillars represent the traditional Pancha Mahanathi or ‘five oceans’. These pillars are called the ‘navel’ or ‘ompholos’ of Chiang Rai. Visitors come to the pillars to pay their respects by sprinkling water onto the pillars. A little walk away, there is a gorgeous viewpoint overlooking Chiang Rai. On clear days, visitors even claim to have sighted Myanmar in the distance from here.

Historical Significance

The golden stupa at Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong is believed to date back to 940 AD during the reign of Phraya Ruen Kaew. Before Buddhism reached the country, the wat was a ‘spirit house’. According to local legend, Paw Kuhn Mangraj discovered the wat while following an elephant along the banks of the Kok river. He found the area suitable for a city and ordered the construction of his new capital. This city became Chiang Rai.

The wat was initially used to house relics of Lord Buddha. Eventually, during the reign of Prince Pangkaraj, the relics were divided between three temples: Wat Phra That Doi Tung, Wat Phra That Chomkitti, and Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong.


1. As it is a place of worship, dress modestly when visiting. Ensure that the knees, shoulders, and midriff are covered.
2. Women are not permitted to go through the gates to the pagodas.

How To Reach Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong

Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong is located in Nakhon Chiang Rai, Amphoe Mueng along the banks of the Kok river. A major landmark here is the Phraya Meng Rai’s Camp Golf Course behind the wat.

It is 2.6 kilometres (10 minutes) from central Chiang Rai and can be reached through Doithong Road or Kraisorasit Road. It is also just 3 kilometres from King Mengrai Monument. Because of its close proximity to the city, one can take either a tuk-tuk or a taxi to the wat. This trip will cost around THB 70.

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