Photo: Meditative.

Tham Wua Forest Monastery

Our rating:

Located just off the main highway, some 35 kms east of Mae Hong Son on the road to Sopong, and set in extensive parkland, is the forest temple and Vipassana meditation centre, Wat Tham Wua.

Meditation courses led by the English speaking abbot and assisted by foreign and local volunteers are a popular draw for overseas visitors. Individual accommodation is provided in smart bungalows and they claim no prior booking is necessary. There are no set course fees and payment is by donation only which ought to at least cover lodging and food. Judging by the spacious, manicured lawns and park—somewhere between botanical gardens and golf course—and the proliferation of new constructions we’d say donations are generous.

Relaxing, well tended grounds. Photo taken in or around Tham Wua Forest Monastery, Mae Hong Son, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Relaxing, well tended grounds. Photo: Mark Ord

Most visitors we’ve talked to seem to leave impressed, if not enlightened. Regulations follow pretty much standard Buddhist temple ones though they can appear strict to the uninitiated and it’s certainly not for everybody. These include 05:00 wake-ups and 20:30 lights out times and no eating after midday with chores and meditation sessions slotted in throughout the day though free time for relaxation or extra-curricular meditation is also scheduled.

Persons of the opposite sex are only allowed to mix during daylight hours in communal areas, there’s strictly no smoking and food is vegetarian only. Loose fitting white clothes should be worn at all times and the recommended minimum course length is one week.

No competitive dressers. Photo taken in or around Tham Wua Forest Monastery, Mae Hong Son, Thailand by Mark Ord.

No competitive dressers. Photo: Mark Ord

The gardens are splendid and lay staff members we met were helpful and friendly though the temple buildings themselves, of recent construction, aren’t worth visiting in their own right.

Their website provides further details. The wat lies 1.5 kilometres down an approach road of Highway 1095 close to the village of Ban Mae Sua and any bus or songthaew travelling between Mae Hong Son and Soppong will drop you off or pick you up at the entrance.

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Tham Wua Forest Monastery
Off the Mae Hong Son-Pai highway, Mae Suya district, Mae Hong Son
T: (081) 031 3326

Location map for Tham Wua Forest Monastery

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