Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai show off a mixture of architectural styles that reflect the varied heritage of Northern Thailand. Elements from Lanna Thai, Burmese, Sri Lankan and Mon temples have all been used in one form or another. Intricate woodcarvings and protective Naga serpent staircases add a flamboyance that reflects an awesome reverence for the Buddhist religion. Gilded umbrellas, guardian figures from the tales of the Ramayana and stupas trimmed with gold filigree combine to heighten the overall effect.
To date, there have been some 300 temples constructed in Chiang Mai an its outskirts. Visitors should take the time to visit the most revered temples in the city, built during the noble Lanna Thai dynasty. The largest ones draw crowds, but it's well worth wandering off the beaten path and finding a temple not on the tour bus circuit.
The Thai patrons of Chiang Mai's temples are pleased to see that visitors take an interest in the images and traditions of Lord Buddha's teachings. All that they ask is that temple visitors show respect by wearing appropriate attire (long pants for men, modest tops and skirts for women, no bare shoulders and women must wear a brassier) so that monks and worshippers will not be offended within the sacred temple grounds.