Wat Pansao, featuring an ancient chedi dating back to the Lanna period, is situated near the old city of Chiang Mai. The temple can be found directly off of Boonrueang Rit Rd, before Chiang Mai Ram hospital. From the road, this ancient monument appears rather humble, with a simple arched walkway and mainly secluded by a little cafe called Boonraksa Coffee. Boonraksa or บุญรักษา in Thai means protection through merit/virtue.
Once inside, it became apparent that this temple was not heavily frequented, by either locals or foreigners. This relatively small piece of property houses a beautifully engraved red and gold worshipping temple, a crumbling brick chedi, and an enshrined Ganesha sculpture. The traditional Lanna style worshipping hall (viharn) is open to the elements, with green tile floors and an intricately carved wooden wall that is around hip height. Phra Chao San Kam Meung (พระเจ้าแสนคำเมือง) is housed inside as the principle Buddha image. The other highlight of this temple is the ancient chedi, which is a also well representative flashing back in history of the kingdom. Housing for local monks was easily seen to the immediate right of the chedi. These highly respected men take care of the upkeep of Wat Pansao.
After a tour of the grounds, the conveniently located coffee shop, Boonraksa Coffee, beckoned us. With an air conditioned interior and lovely outdoor balcony seating, it was a wonderful place to sit and speculate on the rich history that encompasses downtown Chiang Mai.
It featured moderately priced coffees and a small pastry display. It clearly catered to local customers, with the main hanging menu in Thai, and English translations available.
Boonraksa’s has a very pleasant atmosphere, and appears to be a destination for an afternoon coffee and work combination. This temple and coffee shop duo is a lovely tucked away gem of the city. It is a welcome diversion from the hectic city traffic and vendors, and a great place to find some peace of mind.
Written by: Grace Van Kirk