With its secluded forest location and elaborate network of tunnels, Tunnel Temple (Wat Umong) is unique among Chiang Mai temples. The 15-acre (6-hectare) temple complex is home to saffron-robed monks, as well as free-roaming deer and ponds full of fish and turtles. Signs painted with words of wisdom hang from the ‘talking trees.’
Visit Tunnel Temple (Wat Umong) independently or as part of a guided tour, and observe the monks practicing traditional Buddhist chants. Guided Wat Umong excursions range from bike tours to half-day trips dedicated entirely to Chiang Mai’s temples. Bike tours allow you to escape the busy city center and explore the countryside, while temple tours also take you to Wat Phra Doi Suthep, hailed as one of the most important Buddhist temples in Northern Thailand.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Tunnel Temple (Wat Umong) is a sacred space and therefore requires modest clothing that covers knees and shoulders.
- Tunnel Temple (Wat Umong) is a great place to avoid the crowds of more-central Chiang Mai temples.
- Admission to Wat Umong is free, but donations are encouraged.
How to Get There
From Chiang Mai Old Town, Tunnel Temple (Wat Umong) is a 20-minute drive. You can either hail a private taxi or take a songthaew, a shared taxi recognizable by its bright-red exterior. Simply flag down the red truck, tell the driver where you’re going, and hop on board.
When to Get There
Thrice weekly, visitors to Tunnel Temple (Wat Umong) can learn more about the life and practices of Thai Buddhist monks during monk chats. The talks generally occur on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 5:30pm and 7:30pm.
The Legend Behind the Tunnels of Wat Umong
According to legend, the tunnels of Wat Umong, which were dug beneath an artificial mound, were created to help confine a highly regarded monk who was prone to wandering. The site was abandoned in the 15th century, adding to its ancient, wooded feel—but today several monks live here.