Chiang Mai has a lot of temples worth visiting and getting to know. Of all of them there is one that stands out and that in our opinion is one of the most interesting that there is and that you should not miss when you are visiting the city. We are talking about the famous Wat Umong.
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VISIT THE WAT UMONG, THE TEMPLE OF THE TUNNEL
The Wat Umong or Temple of the Tunnel is located at the foot of Mount Doi Shutep and near the University of Chiang Mai in a completely natural environment surrounded by forests and vegetation.
It was built at the time of the splendor of the Lanna Kingdom that had its capital in Chiang Mai around 1297 by the famous King Manglai and meets all the characteristics of the wool culture of the time with those clear references to their origins and roots of northern India as one of the most famous part of the temple is its replica of the Pillar of Ashoka similar to the existing in the ancient Indian city of Vaishali.
The visit to the temple can be divided into parts:
The Great Main Stupa: With its different caves (umong) that give the name to the complex. The stupa with such impressive but without a doubt what stands out the most are its caves with inscriptions and Buddha figures.
The Big Pond and the Talking Trees: Being a natural surface in the middle of the forest you can find this big pond where the monks and visitors relax and where you can see deer, turtles and countless fish. There are also several century-old trees with inscriptions in English and Thai with Buddhist proverbs.
Ashoka Pillar: A replica of the famous Ashoka Pillar in the Indian city of Vaishali.
Buddha Sculpture Area on the ground: Right between the Great Stupa and the Pond we will find a lot of figures or Buddha heads arranged on the ground. Although the temple was abandoned for centuries it is believed that they were built for that purpose and not the remains of ancient constructions.
Nowadays the temple due to the spectacular environment is a very popular outdoor recreation area even thanks to the tranquility that inspires the complex houses one of the most important centers of meditation in the city.
WAT UMONG MEDITATION CENTER
The Wat Umong is also famous for being one of the most important meditation centers in northern Thailand. At the Wat Umong Meditation Centre you can stay for days or even weeks if you wish. The cost per day is 300 bth and includes accommodation and food.
HOW TO GO TO WAT UMONG
The Wat Umong is located near the university campus right in the area where the road to Doi Suthep leaves. The cost of a tuk tuk from downtown Chiang Mai is about 150 bth. It is also very easy to get there by rented motorbike or bicycle.
WAT UMONG SCHEDULE
The Wat Umong is open from 6 am to 6 pm and entrance to the complex is free.
The visit to Wat Umong is ideal if you combine it with the visit to Mount Doi Suthep because on the way back to Chiang Mai it is perfect to stop for a while and relax contemplating the temple and the surroundings.
During the weekend it is very frequented by locals, avoid going on those days.
Do not miss the visit to its tunnels, you will be amazed with the sensation and the play of light.