The Ancient Forest Temple in Chiang Mai – An Ancient Meditation Sanctuary

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The only forest temple in Chiang Mai, Wat Umong is a stunning complex of buildings that are spread out throughout the old forest.

The ancient complex

The complex dates back to the 13th century and is made up of several ruins, tunnels and a large stupa. There is also a monastery on the premises, so Buddhist monks can often be seen walking around or praying near the stupa.

Fotograf / Photographer: Heinrich Damm (User:HdammHdamm at, Chmwumong9906aCC BY-SA 3.0

Exploring the meditation tunnels

The tunnels are long and wide, with a few enclaves that house small Buddha statues. Look above you and you may spot faint drawings of elephants and temples that date back to the 13th century. Although the monks no longer use the tunnels for meditation, visitors are required to remove their shoes and remain silent when entering as a sign of respect.

MillevacheWat Umong1CC BY-SA 3.0

Gain merit at the Lake

Located near the tunnels is a scenic lake with a small island connected by a bridge. The lake is home to some extremely large catfish, which according to local lore, will grant you merit if you feed them. You can buy fish food from a stall near the lake.

Wat Umong9.JPG
MillevacheWat Umong9CC BY-SA 3.0

Finding the temple

The ancient forest is situated at the bottom of Doi Pui Mountain, about 20 minutes from the city centre. If you’re not sure how to get there on your own, check with your Chiang Mai hotel for directions. Most of the hotels like Anantara Chiang Mai Resort will even book you a car to take you there.

Caleb Falcon is a travel writer who specializes in writing content based on the many exciting world adventures that await intrepid travellers. Google+

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