A symbol of Mae Hong Son, the twin Burmese-style temples of Wat Chong Kham and Wat Chong Klang are conveniently located close to the centre of the city. Framed by the Nong Kham lake to the front and the mountains behind, it’s a picturesque and serene setting.
The temples are set within the same grounds and with similar names so it’s easy to get the two mixed up. If you look from the front across the lake, Wat Chong Klang is on the right with the prominent white and gold chedi and Wat Chong Kham is on the left.
Wat Chong Kham
Wat Chong Kham was originally built in 1827 by Tai Yai artisans during the rule of Phraya Singharat Racha, the fist governor of Mae Hong Son. Unfortunately, the original wooden temple buildings were damaged by a fire in 1970 and much of what can be seen today is a reconstruction. There are still some fine examples of workmanship with the metal fretwork that the Tai Yai are renowned for and it remains an attractive temple to stroll around and enjoy the views of the lake and mountains beyond.
Wat Chong Klang
Construction of Wat Chong Klang was carried out from 1867-71 as an offering to Burmese monks who were visiting Mae Hong Son for the funeral of an important abbot. One of the most striking features of this temple is the wicker Buddha inside the main viharn. Wat Chong Klang is also famous for the glass paintings depicting the Jataka tales which tell the story of the previous lives of the Lord Buddha.
The temples are attractive at any time of the day. Visiting in the early morning as dawn breaks, the mountains behind are often shrouded in mist. Monks depart on their morning alms round whilst joggers run around the lake.
By afternoon, the scene is different again with the mist gone and the mountains in clear view. Visit again at night to see the temples lit up and reflected across the lake, one of the most iconic images of Mae Hong Son. There are a few bars and restaurants in the vicinity of the lake which make the most of the evening views.