These two temples are set towards the west of central Mae Hong Son and feature a reclining Buddha at the base (within the grounds of Wat Phra Non) and, from the summit, by Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, splendid views over the surrounds.
Wat Phra Non is a small wat that sits at the base of Doi Kong Mu and houses a 12-metre reclining Buddha. "Phra Non" means reclining Buddha and this Burmese-styled one dates back to 1875 when it was cast on the request of the wife of the first governor of Mae Hong Son. The two Shan-styled stone lions that together flank the staircase are thought to help provide safe passage for those paying homage to the Buddha relic up on the hill.
Unless you hold a particular fascination for reclining Buddhas, this temple probably isn't worth going out of your way for. But if you're planning on walking to the summit of Doi Kong Mu anyway, it's along your route so you may as well swing past. The views from the summit are worth the effort.
At the summit you'll find Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, a temple that is better regarded for its splendid views over the surrounds than the actual building. Constructed in the mid 19th century, the Burmese-style temple includes two chedis containing the ashes of a couple of well regarded Shan monks.
If you make the effort to drag yourself out of bed and head up Doi Kong Mu mountain at dawn you'll be able to see Mae Hong Son town bathed in mist. Opt for the late afternoon and it affords tremendous views of the surrounds, including Burma in the distance -- haze allowing.
You can reach the summit either by climbing the steep staircase running up from beside Wat Phra Non or come via road by motorbike/bicycle. The car park has a couple of cafes and walking through the car park, away from the chedis, gives equally great views north from the town.
By Mark Ord.
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