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One day, walking along the famous Sunday Walking Street in Chiang Mai, we came across a rather strange postcard. On it, standing amid lush green surroundings, was a head of the Buddha that had been overgrown with moss. I was immediately fascinated by it and decided I had to go there. Not long after, we visited Wat Umong (the Forest Temple), which is located just outside the city, at the foot of Doi Suthep mountain. Enjoy this magical temple that hasn’t been discovered yet by many tourists.

Once we arrived at the Wat Umong (which means tunnel) we were immediately enchanted by the fairytale-like surroundings and unexpectedly came across three mysterious tunnels, where the slippers lying around gave away where the entrances were.

We hadn’t seen that on the postcard! The tunnels were absolutely amazing. It was dark, with just enough light to see where you were going, though perhaps a little small for a lanky Dutchman. The tunnels were all connected and decorated with lit Buddha statues. So beautiful!

Collection of moss covered Buddha statues

Above the tunnel was a huge lotus shaped chedi with a monk meditating on the edge of the brick wall.

To the right of the tunnel system and underneath the chedi, we found the Buddha statue I was looking for. It was even more beautiful than on the postcard. All I could do was to take pictures and enjoy the surroundings. Despite being stung dozens of times by mosquitoes, it was worth it.

We took one last look at the “collection” of discarded Buddha statues, overgrown with moss at Wat Umong and thought to ourselves: isn’t it great how you can turn your ideas into actions? One day we were looking at a picture on a postcard and a few days later we saw it in real life. This is what makes traveling so special. Enjoy the photos, and who knows? It might be you standing there soon!

Buddha Statues covered in moss - Wat Umong in Chiang MaiOne of Wat Umong's tunnels in Chiang MaiBuddha Statues covered in moss - Wat Umong in Chiang MaiBuddha Statues covered in moss - Wat Umong in Chiang MaiNo shoes allowed inside the tunnels - Wat Umong in Chiang MaiThe tunnels of Wat Umong in Chiang MaiIt's dark! - Wat Umong in Chiang MaiBuddha Statues covered in moss - Wat Umong in Chiang MaiPidgeons at the Wat Umong temple in Chiang MaiMeditation students at Wat Umong in Chiang MaiWat Umong's chedi

Best Hotels Chiang Mai

Swiss Lana Lodge, Chiang Mai

Swiss Lana Lodge - $

The very kind owners turned this traditional house, made out of Teak wood, into a snug guesthouse with beautiful rooms, complete with a balcony, hot tub, general seating area and much, much more. And it’s affordable as well. This is one of our favorite guesthouses of Thailand!

Rimping Village, Chiang Mai

Rimping Village - $$$

Rimping Village is ideal for families or couples. It’s in a quiet location, just outside the center and within walking distance from both the Ping River and the Night Bazaar. Furthermore, it has a swimming pool, a tour desk, 24-hour reception and comes fully equipped with all modern conveniences!

Why would you want to visit Wat Umong?


Author Sander

Former elementary school teacher, storyteller, sports enthusiast, and adventurer. Love to do the "impossible", which is usually the exact opposite of what’s expected.

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