Fodor's Expert Review Wat Phra That Lampang Luang
One of the most venerated temples in the north, Wat Phra That Lampang Luang is also one of the most striking. Surrounded by stout laterite defense walls, the temple, near the village of Ko Khang, has the appearance of a fortress, exactly what it was when the legendary Queen Chamthewi founded her capital here in the 8th century. The Burmese captured it two-and-a-half centuries ago but were ejected by the forces of a Lampang prince—a bullet hole marks the spot where he killed the Burmese commander. The sandy temple compound has much to hold your interest, including a tiny chapel with a hole in the door that creates an amazing, inverted photographic image of the wat's central, gold-covered chedi. The temple's ancient viharn has a beautifully carved wooden facade; note the intricate decorations around the porticoes. A museum has excellent wood carvings, but its treasure is a small emerald Buddha, which some claim was carved from the same stone as its counterpart in Bangkok.