Photo: Hey pretty pretty.

Wat Jong Klang and Wat Jong Kham

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The twin Shan/Burmese style wats of Wat Jong Klang and Jong Kham and their reflections on Jong Kham Lake create the iconic Mae Hong Son view.



The brilliant white and gold chedis mesh with green roofs and their golden trimmings to form a glistening mirage across the surface of the lake, broken only by the lake’s fountains. Furthermore the temples are well-lit after dark and so make for an equally impressive night-time sight.

Easily Mae Hong Son’s most photographed wats. Photo taken in or around Wat Jong Klang and Wat Jong Kham, Mae Hong Son, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Easily Mae Hong Son’s most photographed wats. Photo: Mark Ord

Wat Jong Kham, which also gives its name to the small adjacent lake, is the elder of the twin temples and its construction began in 1827 under the direction of the ruler of Mae Hong Son, Phraya Singhanatracha. The ruler was Shan but both Shan (Tai Yai) and Burmese craftsmen were employed in the undertaking and the result is a blend of Burmese and Tai Yai elements. (Incidentally, Jong is actually temple or wat in Shan and Kham means gold so the Thai name then erroneously translates as Wat Wat Gold.)

Jong Klang is thought to have been constructed a few decades later and again the elaborate tiered green roofs and golden chedi are strongly reminiscent of classic Burmese design as seen at Shwedagon in Yangon for example, while much of the decoration and trimmings demonstrate Shan flourishes.

Tales from back in the day. Photo taken in or around Wat Jong Klang and Wat Jong Kham, Mae Hong Son, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Tales from back in the day. Photo: Mark Ord

The older temple is perhaps best known for its large wooden throne, but it’s in Wat Jong Klang that you’ll find the real attraction—an extraordinary array of paintings on glass and an impressive collection of teak statues and dolls of Burmese origin. The former, featuring images from the jakata and life of Buddha, date to some hundred years ago and are thought to have been painted by Shan artists from Mandalay while the latter, displayed in a small in-house museum, are said to date from the temple’s founding in the mid-19th century. In turn the work of Burmese craftsmen, the wooden figurines depict animals and mythical figures as well as more scenes from the Buddhist jakata tales.

Local rumour holds that the Burmese stone lion statues you see in the temple grounds, known as Chinthes, face Burma and are meant to scare off the neighbour’s invading armies.

The connecting temples, surrounded by well-tended gardens make for a fascinating and photogenic spot for a stroll though note that, as is common in Burmese and Shan temples, certain sections are off-limits to women.



How to get there
Wat Jong Kham and Wat Jong Klang are located aside each other on Chamnansatit Road by the lake in the centre of town. Both temple grounds are open to visitors during daylight hours with official opening times for the museum being 08:00–18:00. Entrance is by voluntary donation.

Wat Jong Klang and Wat Jong Kham
Chamnansatit Road, beside Jong Kham lake, Mae Hong Son
Admission: By donation

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Location map for Wat Jong Klang and Wat Jong Kham

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What next?

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