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Wat Fa Wiang In

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It’s not an architecturally remarkable temple, yet Wat Fa Wiang In has great historical significance and it’s highly unusual, too. The temple could actually feature in either our Thailand or Burma section since the border literally runs right through the centre of it.



Tai Yai, or Shan, girls in the Thai section of the temple

Tai Yai, or Shan, girls in the Thai section of the temple.

The small temple is located in the border hamlet of Lak Taeng, four kilometres north of the district town Piang Luang. To the north is Burma’s Shan State and to the west Mae Hong Son province. Wiang Haeng lies some 20 kilometres south.

The Burmese half of the wat surrounded by trenches and bunkers.

The Burmese half of the wat surrounded by trenches and bunkers.

Most of Wat Fa Wiang In, as you see it today, was constructed in the late 1960s when the village was chosen as the base for the Shan United Revolution Army (SURA) fighting the Burmese army for autonomy under the leadership of General Mo Heng, (aka Zao Korn Zurng). A shrine to this great Shan hero who died in 1991 has been built on the hill above the temple overlooking Burma.

Mo Heng to the Burmese, Zao Korn Zurng to the Shan, his grave lies next to the temple

Mo Heng to the Burmese, Zao Korn Zurng to the Shan: His grave lies next to the temple.

A heroic freedom fighter to some, an opium-funded warlord to others, he was without doubt a fervent Buddhist. Recognising that an old ruined brick chedi on the border hill dated to the reign of the also heroic and Burmese-fighting Thai King Naresuan, he ordered the building of a temple here. (You can see Naresuan’s shrine down the road in Wiang Haeng.)

Sacred bodi tree in the temple grounds.

Sacred bodi tree in the temple grounds.

When Burmese government forces reached a peace deal with the Shan Mong Tai Army in 1996 (and their boss, drug warlord Khun Sa, basically retired), the area reverted to Burmese government control. As long as both sides of the border had been under de facto Shan administration, there wasn’t an issue, but the Burmese and the Thais realised the official border now went straight through the middle of the temple — and it’s been that way ever since.

The Thai army now occupies positions where once was King Naresuan’s army, the SURA and the Mong Tai forces.

The Thai army now occupy positions once controlled by King Naresuan’s army, the SURA and the Mong Tai forces.

The Thai half of the temple is these days a popular local tourist destination while the off-limits Burmese half is an army base. The surrounding hills and scrub are mined so do not go off the paths! While the buidlings aren’t the most attractive of Thai temples, the Shan-style chedi is impressive and the track up the hill leads to a viewpoint with a very good view of the Burmese temple (as well as their army’s defensive positions). From the viewpoint, and Thai army lookout, the track leading back down to the village takes you past a large seated Buddha overlooking tiny Lak Taeng village.

The border between the two parts of the temple

The border between the two parts of the temple.

If you take the other way down to the village, behind the chedi, you pass by a local community weaving project which is worth a peek. Shan women, many recent refugees from over the border, use traditional wooden looms to weave Shan-style sarongs and scarves.

Traditional weaving 50m form the border

Traditional weaving 50 metres from the border.


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Location map for Wat Fa Wiang In


What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Wiang Haeng.
 Read up on where to eat on Wiang Haeng.
 Check out our listings of other things to do in and around Wiang Haeng.
 Read up on how to get to Wiang Haeng, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Wiang Haeng? Please read this.
 Browse tours in Thailand with Tourradar.




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