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High in Chiang Mai

chiang mai temple

with F.Zuiko 38mm f1.8

Temples in Chiang Mai are like Tom McRae songs. There are loads to choose from, and most of them are bloody beautiful.

That was an awful opener. I do love Tom McRae though and wanted to shoehorn him in somewhere.

Anyway, temples. The two Chiang Mai temples that everyone goes to, the main, famous ones in the old town, are Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang.

I was surprised to see the former has a sister temple in Runcorn, England, in an old pub. I’ve never been. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Runcorn, never mind the temple/pub.

I promise too, all the pictures in this set are from Chiang Mai.

chiang mi tuk tuk

Chiang Mai temples

Chiang Mai is a very walkable city. It’s flat and not too big.

Strolling between the temples in the compact old town is always much more a pleasure than a chore, and taking your time with some manual focus photography along the way always makes for a relaxing day out.

The only things that might put you off are the heat and lack of pavements, but they are very minor details in the grand scheme of things.

The photos in this set are a collection from various Chiang Mai temples, and weren’t all necessarily taken on the same day like a lot of my other sets.

They were all taken with the same camera and lens though; my F.Zuiko 38mm f1.8 on my Sony NEX.

wat phra singh

chiang mai temple

stone buddha

chiang mai monk

Photography at Doi Suthep

One place you wouldn’t walk to, unless on a pilgrimage (that people do actually still make), is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

Out to the west of the city, the temple sits on top of the Doi Suthep hill. The scooter ride up is great, and would be worth the trip alone. Throw in a glorious temple waiting someway up the hill, and it’s really a must-do when in Chiang Mai.

Legend has it that the temple was founded in 1383, on the spot where an elephant carrying a piece of the Buddha’s shoulder bone dropped dead. The first road to the temple was constructed some time after.

In 1935.

Today, it’s one of the most visited spots in Chiang Mai. Don’t let that put you off though. It’s still beautiful.

doi suthep

tourists at doi suthep

temple oil thailand

doi suthep

buddhist photography

I wrote another blog post more specific to renting a scooter in Chiang Mai and riding it to the temple at Doi Suthep.

Buddhist photography

I do love taking photos around temples, and a lot of my sets so far give this away. One thing that I don’t like doing with my temple photography though is taking shots inside them.

I see plenty of people who do, and that’s up to them. I’m not judging; it’s a personal choice. And I happily take pictures in churches without thinking.

I guess my personal refusal to take photographs in temples stems from being told not to in a temple at Erdene Zuu Monastery, Mongolia, after I had already taken a few.

I remember immediately deleting them, even though nobody asked me to, and I’ve never regretted losing those shots.

Some things are more important.

Now, if I really want a picture of the interior of a temple, I will see if I can get it from standing outside and shooting in. If that’s not possible, I forget it.

My personal belief, about not shooting inside temples, is worth more than the shot.

I don’t know if it matters in Thailand, but it does to me. I hold certain other standards with all my photography, but any Buddhist photography I do is done with that particular standard upheld too.

buddhist mantra


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With Chiang Mai's old town being very flat and very walkable, a day strolling around shooting is one of the best ways to while away the time there. The plethora of temples in Chiang Mai means Buddhist photography is just around almost every corner too, and most of them offer good opportunities for photographing the architecture, the smaller details, and of course the people. Out to the west of Chiang Mai, high up on the hill, sits one of the area's most famous temples in Wat Phra Doi Suthep. As photogenic as you'd expect, the trip up one of Chiang Mai's highlights, especially when done by scooter.


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