I was temple hopping in Chiang Mai the last time I wrote about my epic Thailand adventure, but the best thing about my stay in Chiang Mai was it was Makha Bucha Day.
Makha Bucha Day is the second most important buddhist holiday in Thailand. It is the day on which Buddhist honour Buddha and his teachings. One of the ways that Buddhists celebrate is to attend a candle light procession around their temple.
Makha Bucha Day fell on a Saturday, which is the day on which Chiang Mai has its weekly night markets. One of the largest takes place right outside my hostel on Wualai Road. Which also happened to be the route you took to get to a good number of the Temples and I found myself on a journey through the Night market, with stops at temples, where I would stop to participate in the Makha Bucha celebration. Quite an experience!
No Drinking on Makha Bucha Day
Unlike Bangkok, Chiang Main observes Thailand’s alcohol laws and Makha Bucha Day is a dry holiday. There were places you could get a drink if you needed to but, I chose not. Instead I wandered through the Saturday Night Market, shopping and eating, stopping along the way at each temple to take in the celebration.
Saturday Night Market
The Chiang Mai Saturday market was amazing. It was large, full of stalls of vendors, street restaurants and people. Everyone in Chiang Mai was out that Saturday night and after celebrating Makha Bucha they all went to the market. The market has an excellent selection of things for a traveller to pick-up and I picked up a few t-shirts and other things that I hadn’t planned on. I was not going to buy much in Chiang Mai as I had to carry it all in my backpack but, once I saw what I could buy I knew I had to do it.
First temple stop was at Wat Muen San, which I stumbled upon as I wandered the night market. The temple was beautifully decorated, filled with stalls and there was even a traditional Northern Thai dance performance.
On my first night in Chiang Mai I discovered the street food was excellent in the city. The Saturday night market did not disappoint in that regard. There was so much choice of food that I had a hard time picking something to eat. I didn’t want to miss out on the best street vendor by picking the first one you know? My patience did pay off as I found a vendor who made the most amazing beef noodle soup.
Wat Chedi Luang
I visited Wat Chedi Luang during the day and only wanted to see the Candle light precession which everyone told me was the best in the city. It was true, there were a lot of people and the size of the temple meant that all you saw was a procession of people paying their respects.
Wat Phan Tao
My favourite Makha Bucha Day temple was at Wat Phan Tao. The wooden temple was decorated in flags and the Buddha that was located outside on a small grassy island was covered with candles. People would walk on the palm tree walkway as part of the candle procession. It was beautiful and even when one of the local dogs walked onto the hill, no one bothered the dog. I had seen the preparing under way for the celebration the other day and I was more impressed than I thought I would be.
Wat Phra Singh
Being the main temple, Wat Phra Singh was crowded. Even its market was still in full swing for the night with vendors selling flowers and candles, and lots of food. I didn’t take too many photos there.
Wat Phra Singh was the last temple I visited that night. I headed home to get a good night sleep as the next day was my last in Chiang Mai before I headed North to Pai.