As anyone who has been to Thailand can attest, Chiang Mai is lousy with temples. But this—Wat Suan Dok, a.k.a. Wat Buppharam, near Chiang Mai University—is worth the tuk-tuk side trip. The compound boasts a sea of white-washed mausoleums (these hold the ashes of the royal family of Chiang Mai), a sprawling and scarcely populated sermon hall, and a glorious gold 157-foot-tall chedi that dwarfs all who stand beside it. The temple was founded in 1370 A.D., but the grounds have undergone numerous permutations and upgrades.
Wandering here is truly a pleasure, especially if you’re armed with a camera. But it’s also a great spot for lunch. Pun Pun is a casual restaurant and “center for self-reliance” at the back of the temple grounds. Vegetarians make pilgrimages here for the chili-fried rice, tart pomelo salad, and tofu “steaks.” The soy milk, tofu, yogurt, cheese, and jam are all made in-house. There is a small grocery area that sells nut butter, sun-dried fruit, charcoal soap cut with rice husks, organic tea, and more, so pick up a jar or bottle of whatever looks good on your way out.
139 Suthep Rd., Tambon Su Thep, Chiang Mai, Thailand; +66-53-278-304.