The Wiang Kum Kam Lost City and temple ruins are a few kilometres to the south of Chiang Mai. A visit to Wiang Kum Kam is a must for people interested in local culture and who wish to gain insights into the Lanna kingdom of seven centuries ago. Records indicate Wiang Kum Kam was founded by King Mengrai in the mid-1280s. Wiang Kum Kam is close to the Ping River and was prone to flooding.
Historians claim flooding was the reason King Mengrai made the decision to shift the Lanna capital to a new location just 10 years later. What is now Chiang Mai Old City was established in 1296. Although King Mengrai had abandoned his former capital, it remained inhabited for another 300 years or more. Some of the remaining temples were built during this latter period. After it was abandoned, Wiang Kum Kam lay lost and forgotten under silt and undergrowth until the mid-1980s when archaeologists attached to the Thai National Fine Arts Department started excavations.
Wiang Kum Kam was built inside a moat and traces of this are still extant. The main city site is oblong in shape and almost a kilometre across on its longest side. Around 40 sets of ruins have been uncovered so far with the majority inside the moat. Some of the ruined temples, statues and chedis are well preserved. One of the highlights at Wiang Kum Kam is Wat Chedi Liam Temple and this is still in use today and has resident monks. The following is a guide to the main temples at Wiang Kum Kam and also includes information about opening times and getting here.
Last Updated: December 2018
WIANG KUM KAM TEMPLES
Wat Chedi Liam
Wat Chedi Liam derives its name from a fully intact and multi-level chedi built to resemble the Haripunchai style. Alcoves on the chedi’s sides contain small Buddha statues. The temple dates from the year 1288 and is the only current one at Wiang Kum Kam used for Buddhist religious ceremonies. These take place in the viharn (main chapel) and are conducted by the temple’s own monks.
The ruins of Wat Chang Kham or Wat Kan Thom are mostly brick walls with carvings and engraved tiles with characters dating back to those in use up to 600 years ago. The remaining ruins are in good condition and the Fine Arts Department says the viharn and chedi were built during the 16th century.
The viharn and chedi at Wat E Kang are joined together. The chedi is more intact than the viharn and is eight-sided with three levels and a bell shape on top. Some of the lower parts of the support pillars of the viharn are still standing. Kang is the word in the northern Thai kham muang dialect for the species of monkey which used to roam the temple during its long years of abandonment.
Wat Nan Chang nowadays consists of bases and low walls believed to be around 500 years old. Archaeologists say this temple was built on top of an older one and faces what is now a dried up course of the River Ping.
Wat Phaya Mengrai is ruined but, surrounded by trees, a peaceful location to try and imagine the former grandeur of Wiang Kum Kam. The temple is named after the founder of the city, King Mengrai.
Wat Phra Chao Ong Dam is close to Wat Phaya Mengrai and is in a similar condition. The base of what was once a chedi is quite a bit higher than the one at its neighbour.
In a reasonable condition, the ruins of Wat Pu Pia feature some stucco images and a well-preserved chedi.
The remains of Wat That Khao are primarily the base of the main chapel and a mound which was the temple’s former chedi. Low-lying walls and the bottoms of the support posts for the chapel roof have been cleared of debris.
GETTING TO WIANG KUM KAM
The main gate and visitor information centre for Wiang Kum Kam are about 10kms by road to the south of the Old City’s Chiang Mai Gate. The site is not on public transport routes. Visitor can hire a tuk-tuk or songthaew for the trip. Most drivers will quote an all-in price for the return trip and waiting time. Another option is to rent a car or a motorcycle to get here. Rentalcars.com is a preferred partner for What’s Up and is a global car hire provider offering competitive daily rental rates in Chiang Mai.
GETTING AROUND WIANG KUM KAM
Due to the fact Wiang Kum Kam is spread over a fairly large area walking is not the best choice for getting around. Bicycles are available for hire at the information centre and the perfect option for people who want to combine sightseeing with some light exercise. Guided tram (trolley bus) group tours are the second means of getting around while horsedrawn carriage tours are a delightful third choice.
OPENING HOURS AND FEES
Note: Fees do change, we recommend you to check for the updates.
– Opening Hours: 08:00 – 17:00 (Daily)
– Fees: Entrance = 10 B/Person | Tram (1-10 Persons) = 400 B | Horse Carriage (2-3 Persons) = 250 B
– Address: #451, Superhighway Rd., T. Chang Phuak, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50300 | Tel: +66 53 140 322, +66 53 222 262 | Fax: +66 53 409 072 | Website |