Wat Umong, Chiang Mai’s Adventure Temple
Wat Umong has got to be the best boy’s own and girl’s own adventure temple in Chiang Mai.
It’s got everything an adventurous kid could want – tunnels, jungle, a zoo, dogs, cats, friendly monks, a fish feeding area and lots of mysterious statues.
The best time to visit would be late afternoon, after the heat of the day has worn itself out. Time it right and you’ll hear monks chanting on your way and see them sweeping up fallen leaves on your way out.
In between arriving and leaving, the kids can explore the temple. (Bearing in mind it’s a temple and so some decorum is required, a bit of childish exuberance should be OK. That’s A BIT, not a lot.)
Actually, being quiet and not running may make exploring the site even more interesting for kids.
I recommend making Wat Umong even more of an adventure by sending your kids on a “temple hunt”. It should be a quiet temple hunt (because it’s still a temple) but loud shushing and giggles would be overlooked by other visitors and the monks, some of whom are really still children themselves.
Here is a list of things they should be able to find on the temple grounds:
- * a golden Buddha statue in a tunnel
- * the fish feeding area
- * the temple dog with the hairiest ears
- * the long-horned cows in the zoo
- * three statues wearing robes
- * a wheel on top of a pole
- * a skinny Buddha;
- * a big-nosed Buddha;
- * a curly-haired Buddha; and
- * a monk carrying a squirrel in a cage. (Very big bonus points for this one. I am not sure how common this sight is, but we met a lovely monk with the cutest squirrel in a cage.)
There are enough sign posts and jungle paths to keep them occupied for quite a while.
Parents, you should consider arriving with some drinks and snacks and finding a picnic table to relax at. After the kids have explored the area, they can then act as your tour guides and show you around.
If you need a break from the kids, Wat Umong could give you hours of alone time. Although not exploring the mysterious jungle-ness of the place could give you a pang. We explored as a family and just loved it.
If you’re going to send your kids on a temple hunt, they should stop reading now. Because here is a small photo tour of Wat Umong, which is still being reclaimed from the jungle.
The chedi at sunset. A saffron-robed monk gave a lecture to a group of young people while we were there. There was a lot of laughter – I’ve never witness monk standup before!
The tunnels were dark and mysterious. We weren’t the only tourists exploring the underground network. Many of the visitors prayed at the various shrines hidden in the tunnels.
Like most of the wats in Chiang Mai, Wat Umong had its own set of temple dogs. This fellow had the longest ear hair I have every seen on a dog. Even in silhouette it’s impressive.
A strange statue collection sits in one section of the temple grounds. It’s very interesting to look at some of the ancient statues and see the different types of Buddha representations.
Here Buddha has curly hair and a big nose …
… here he is looking very hungry indeed…
… and here he looks Cambodian (in my very un-expert opinion).
After the kids have worn themselves out exploring the wat and showing you around, try the nearby Galae restaurant for dinner. Grab a table by the lake and enjoy the evening as it cools. I recommend the green chicken curry with bamboo tips and the fresh coconuts.
Be warned, though, Galae is pricey compared to street food places but it’s worth the splurge to sit in the garden and just relax. The kids can run up and down the garden paths to use up any remaining energy they may have left.
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8 years ago