It's completely overlooked by all the guidebooks, but Wat Pa Pao is a quite unique temple in Chiang Mai. It's not as ancient as many of the temples of the city. It was built late in the nineteenth century by the Thai Yai community, an ethnic group originating in the Shan States of Burma. The temple stills sits in small grove of the pao trees that gave the temple its name.
The unusual squat main chapel of the temple with the big pagoda behind
In 1891, King Inthawichayanon ordered the construction of the chedi and a wooden wiharn. The chapel has been replaced by an unusual stone one. Everything is in the distinctive Burmese style similar to what can be seen in Mae Hong Son.
The temple is still the center of the Thai Yai community in Chiang Mai. On important Buddhist holidays, it will take on a fair like atmosphere, with food stalls and other vendors.
The architectural uniqueness of the temple insures that it gets a steady stream of art and architecture students sketching it, but aside from these it doesn't get many other visitors.