Wiang Lo, another lost city

Wiang Lo is an archaeological site about 70km southwest of Chiang Rai. The ruins of this ancient city are located in and around the village Wiang Lo, Chun district, Phayao province. They are believed to date back to the 15th and 16th century. Very few tourists visit Wiang Lo because it is not close to any route tourists take. It is cumbersome and time-consuming to reach Wiang Lo by public transportation. Because of this you need your own transportation and even then is not easy to find your way once you are at the site. Few, if any local people speak English. I visited Wiang Lo twice. I visited three sites on my first trip: the Wat Sri Ping Muang, Wat Prathat Nong Ha and Ku Kha Chao. The Wat Sri Ping Muang is the best preserved site of Wiang Lo. Next to this temple there is a small museum that contains artefacts, statues and remains of humans that have been found or excavated around the village. The Khu Kha Chao is in the village itself. The Wat Phrathat Nong Ha is a chedi that you can visit on the way from Wiang Lo to Phan, along road 1126.

Buddha statues in a museum
Inside the Wiang Lo Museum

Wat Phrathat Bunnak 

The Wat Phrathat Bunnak is located on a small, forested hilltop outside the village Wiang Lo. The easiest way to get there is to take the road 1126 which goes to Pa Daed and Phan. On the left hand side of the road you will see a sign. A short dirt road will take you to this archaeological site. 

A bit further on this road is the chedi Wat Phrathat Nong Ha.On top of the small hill there are the ruins of an ancient chedi. Around this pile of stones there are several Buddha statues that are of later date. It still seems to be an active temple. In the viharn you will find a photograph taken in the year 2456 (1912) of the ancient chedi. According to the people at the temple a foreigner took this picture.

The Consular Tour of 1928

W.A.R.Wood, the British Consul-General of Chiang Mai, made a tour to Phrae, Nan, Chiang Kham and Phayao in November-December 1928. He also passed Wiang Lo, which he calls Muang Law. This is what he wrote in his report:

Chiengkham to Prayao

From Chiengkham to Prayao I followed a route never before taken by a Consular officer. This road, via Muang Law, is about 44 miles in length, and is more interesting, as it traverses about 15 miles of swamp, being the corner of an immense area which in ancient times was undoubtedly a prosperous padi plain, and which is now, after lying waste for a century or more (perhaps four or five) once more being, in part, opened up to cultivation.
Green ricefields with mountains
Rice fields at Wiang Lo

Muang Law

The village of Muang Law, on the Me Ing River, now little more than a hamlet, shows traces of having once been a mighty city. A moat and ruined wall can still be traced, and the jungle all round is full of the remains of magnificent temples and pagodas, while stone images of unusual type are to be found lying about.
I have been unable to trace the existence, in former times, of any large city in that vicinity, nor to find any mention in native chronicles of its destruction. I may possible, I think, be a mysterious city, thus far identified, which is stated to have been captured and depopulated by King Boromoraja II of Siam in A.D. 1444.”
old brick chedi with Buddha statues
Wat Sri Ping Muang at Wiang Lor

Wiang Lo in 2020

The road from Chiang Kham to Wiang Lo is excellent and very scenic. You will need you own vehicle to get there. I have not researched how to get there by public transportation but it seems cumbersome and time consuming. Once you are in the village the Wat Sri Ping Muang is easy to find. The museum gives a good introduction to the sites of the ancient city. All information, though, is in Thai unfortunately. I will visit this archeological site again soon so I will update all this information. If you are interested in ruined cities you might want to visit our pages Wiang Kum Kam and Wiang Thakan.

Brick chedi in a forest Wiang Lo
Wat Prathat Nong Ha at Wiang Lo

How to get there