As with most other wats in town this one is said to date back to the seventh century and Chama Thewi, but with little archaeological research having been done and numerous renovations and additions made over the centuries it’s difficult to tell.
Wat Phra Yeun, set amid a small grove of orchid-festooned mature trees on the edge of town is certainly an attractive temple and houses, among assorted temple buildings, a spectacular Bagan-style stupa with four large gold-leaf covered standing Buddhas.
The wat has more recent historical significance too since flying ace Jack Newkirk was killed here when a plane of the famous Flying Tigers squadron crashed (or was shot down) next to the temple during a raid on Japanese-held Lamphun airstrip in 1942. (The famous World War II US flying outfit harassed Japanese war efforts across northern Thailand and Burma from their base in Yunnan’s Kunming.)
To get here, walk through the covered bridge opposite Wat Phra That Haripunchai and then continue down the road for about 10 minutes. Cross the main road you reach and the temple is straight ahead. This is a pleasant walk or cycle and the wat is well worth a look.
By Mark Ord.
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