In perfect harmony with all of its modern conveniences, Chiang Mai in northern Thailand also has over 300 Buddhist wats (temples) woven into the fabric of the city. They are hidden off small backstreets, set dramatically on main roads and they dot almost every street corner – and no two temples are alike. Wat Chedi Luang, pictured above, is one of the oldest temple complexes in Chiang Mai, built in the 14th century. Until it was destroyed by the great earthquake in 1545, this main chedi (temple structure) was the largest in Thailand for many years, with a height of 82 meters and a base diameter of 54 meters.
Only few of the massive stone elephants stampeding out of the structure held up against the earthquake. Despite its destruction, this ancient temple is still one of the most impressive wats in Chiang Mai. Beat the tourists to Chedi Luang early in the morning to be alone with the Buddhas, (stone) elephants and the novice monks passing through on their way to monk school.