01 The TripPacker's Review
Wat Umong: The tunneled temple and monastery of Chiang Mai
If you are making your way to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, stop by at Wat Umong first. This 700 year-old temple is located at the foot of Doi Suthep, just south of Chiang Mai University. Unlike any other, Wat Umong is unique in that it is comprised of a series of somewhat maze-like tunnels underneath the main chedi (umong in Thai means tunnel).
It is said that King Gue Na had the temple built in this fashion for a highly regarded monk. The monk, Thera Jan, was quite eccentric and often wandered off into the forest of the mountain. The tunnels were meant to prevent him from leaving the temple grounds.
At some point in Thai history, the temple and monastery were abandoned for several centuries. The long disuse is what accounts for the overgrown trees, vines, and moss that can be seen on the walls and stone works of the temple.
- Those interested in monkhood should contact the temple; Tel: 053 811 100
- If you would like to know more about the temple and/or Buddhism, the temple has a library and museum you can visit as well.
- Out of respect, please do not touch the murals or use flash photography.
The temple’s chedi has a round bell shape situated atop a mound on an open court. The tunnels underneath contain Buddha images, and its walls decorated with murals of nature and wildlife. Naga stairs leading to the chedi and the tunnel entrances are located on the South side. The wide court in front of the tunnels contains pavilions, monk residences, a library, and a stone pillar with lion sculptures on its top. One thing you will easily notice at this temple is the curious collection of broken Buddha images and relics from various temples. It has become custom for people with broken Buddha images or relics to bring them here. If you continue on the path past the mound and the pagoda, you'll eventually come to a small lake with manyfish, birds and other wildlife that you can feed.
02 General Info + How to go
|Address||:||135 Moo 10, Suthep Sub-district, Mueang District, Chaing Mai, 50200|
|Contact no.||:||053 811 100, 085 107 6045, 085 717 8244|
|Opening Hrs.||:||About 07.00 – 17.30|
|Best time||:||Any time of the day.|
|Highlight||:||The tunnels running underneath the temple|
|Activities||:||Sight-seeing/ Praying/ Education|
How to get there
Take Suthep road to the back of Chiang Mai University. Turn left into Soi Wat Umong. Continue until the end of the soi then turn left, the temple will be on your right.