Wats (Buddhist temples) are a dime a dozen here in Chiang Mai, and most of Thailand for that matter. At Wat Ket (also spelled Wat Kate and Wat Gate), the museum is far more interesting than the temple it’s a part of.
Perhaps this is one reason why the museum is more interesting. For historical reasons of it being bad luck or something, women aren’t allowed in some temple buildings across Thailand.
OK, enough about the temple – it really isn’t that interesting, and can basically be skipped.
The Wat Gategaram Museum was established on December 19, 1999 by a group of philanthropists. The former abbot’s living quarters were renovated to make the museum, along with newspaper clippings, pictures, and plenty of other stuff.
A tanlapat is the fan used by Buddhist monks while chanting prayers.
Just one of the many intricate flags seen here. The slightly torn condition of the flag is indicative of the rest of the museum – some parts better displayed than others, all original, but in a condition that needs attention…
Just some of the horns on display. Buffaloes, bulls, deer, and a couple others I can’t identify…
One of the many books on display, albeit inside a dusty glass case. Not pictured elsewhere are a number of other objects on display – a gramaphone, weighing scales, old-school fans, water pumps, and plenty more. It really does feel like a time warp in many ways.
One final room of the museum had an interesting duo on display:
That’s an elephant skull, by the way – a reminder of how huge these creatures are. That’s also a pile of elephant bones to the left, seemingly without the room to display them better. Not pictured in this relatively small room are a number of magazines and books, the sort you might see at a flea market or a Salvation Army type of store.
To be clear, the majority of the museum is in need of both better displays, better preservation techniques, and better lighting. The building itself is far from weather-tight, and makes me wonder how well the exhibits inside are bound for this world. Perhaps it’s a reminder of the Buddhist precept of impermanence, or perhaps the donations aren’t yet at a level where they can get everything in a new-fangled sort of case. It’s worth the visit, but try not to set your expectations too high.
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Name: Wat Ket Museum (also spelled Wat Gate)
Address: 96 Ban Watgate, Chiang Mai (GPS: 18.792167,99.002989)
Directions: From the northeast corner of Chiang Mai’s square moat, head east on Wichayanon road. Take it all the way to the river and the T (about 600 meters), then turn right. Go 200 meters, then turn left and cross the river. Take the first right after crossing the river, then go about 300 meters and look left for the entrance.
Hours: 9am-4pm (for the museum), during daylight hours for the temple
Ratings out of 5 globes (How do I rate destinations?)
Ease to arrive:
Worth the visit: