The Shan Temples of Mae Hong Son

The Shan Temples of Mae Hong Son

Table of Contents

Introduction to Shan Temples of Mae Hong Son

There are many Shan temples in Mae Hong Son, which is the “capital” of the Shan population in Thailand. I made a selection of the most interesting temples in this charming town. Some of these temples feature in our Mae Sariang Loop tour.

Two white chedis
The chedis of Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu

Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu

The Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu (วัดพระธาตุดอยกองมู) is located on Doi Kong Mu, a hill overlooking the town. A steep road takes you up to the temple but it’s much nicer to walk up. There are two white chedis (pagodas) in Burmese style. The largest one dates back to 1860. It contains the relics of Phra Maha Mok Kallana Thera, an important Buddhist monk. He was one of the disciples of the Buddha.

Migrants from Burma brought the relics of the Buddha to Mae Hong Son and constructed the chedi. The first governor, Phraya Singhanat Racha, constructed the smaller chedi in 1874. As with most temples: try to be there at sunrise for spectacular views. It is one of our favorite temples in town.

Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, Chong Kham, Mueang Mae Hong Son District, Mae Hong Son 58000

White chedis on a mountain
Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu chedis

Wat Jong Klang

The Wat Jong Klang (วัดจองกลาง) is located on the lake in the center of Mae Hong Son. It is right next to Wat Jong Kham. These temples are also spelt Wat Chong Klang and Wat Chong Kham.

This temple dates back to the 1860s. People constructed the temple as an offering to monks from Burma who visited the town for the funeral of a well-known abbot. Interesting is the wicker Buddha statue that is located in the viharn of the temple.

The Wat Jong Klang also has glass paintings that depicts the story of the previous lives of Siddharta Gautama before he became the Buddha. The temple has an interesting museum with artefacts.

Wat Jong Klang, 35/1 Charm-naan Satit Rd, Chong Kham, Mueang Mae Hong Son District, Mae Hong Son 58000

Buddhist temple Shan Temples
The Chedi of Wat Jong Klang

The Wat Jong Kham

The Wat Jong Kham/Wat Chong Kham aka Phra Aram Klang (วัดจองคำ (พระอารามหลวง)is located on the lake. It is right next to Wat Jong Klang (Wat Chong Klang). These are known as the twin temples of Mae Hong. Shan (Tai Yai) people constructed the temple in 1827. In 1970 fire damaged the original wooden temple. So the current temple is a reconstruction.

Unlike Wat Jong Klang, Wat Jong Kham doesn’t have a chedi. The temples are illuminated after dark and offer a spectacular sight. 

Wat Jong Kham, Chong Kham, Mueang Mae Hong Son District, Mae Hong Son 58000

Temples on a lake
Wat Jong Klang (right) and Wat Jong Kham (left)

Wat Hua Wiang

The Wat Hua Wiang (วัดหัวเวียง) is a very pretty temple located next to the morning market. The temple dates back to 1863. It was the second temple in Mae Hong Son Province. As far as I know, Wat Doi Kong Mu was the first.
 
The viharn of Wat Hua Wiang houses a Buddha statue named “Phra Chao Phala Lakhaeng”. This statue is a replica of the Phra Mahamuni statue from Mandalay, Myanmar. It was cast in Mandalay and brought to town in 1937. The Wat Hua Wiang is one of the overlooked Mae Hong Son attractions and one of my favorite Shan temples in this town.
 
Two temple buildings
The Wat Hua Wiang

Sources of this article

I visited Mae Hong Son numerous times over the years, most recently in June 2021.

Sources:

Information at the temples

Oliver Hargreave, Exploring Chiang Mai, City, Valley and Mountains

Sarassawadee Ongsakul, History of Lanna, Chiang Mai, 2005

Michael Freeman, Lanna, Thailand’s Northern Kingdom, Bangkok, 2001

Hans Penth, A brief history of Lanna, Chiang Mai, 2000

Chotima Chaturawong, The Architecture of Burmese Buddhist Monasteries in Upper Burma and Northern Thailand: The Biography of Trees, Dissertation for Doctor of Philosophy, Cornell University, 2003

Yu Yu Thwin,  A comparative study on the architectural characteristics of 19th and 20th century Shan monasteries in Southern Shan State of Myanmar and Northern Thailand . Chiang Mai University/Chiang Mai, 2008

If you are interested in Shan or Burmese-style temples, please have a look at the temples of Lampang.

Man with town in the background
Frans Betgem at the Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu
Buddhist temple Shan Temples
The Chedi of Wat Jong Klang
View over town in the morning
Morning view of Mae Hong Son from Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu
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