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Wiang Kumkam - ancient city

Here is alisting of the many building uncovered on the Wiang Kumkam site. It is in addition to our main story on Wiang Kum Kam as a museum.

You can tour the site by open bus or horse cart

History of the ancient city that was abandoned.


After King Meng Rai ruled and lived in the city of Hariphunchai (Lamphun) for two years, he studied many things, and tried to build an experiment city. That city was Wiang Kum Kam. But it had not lasted very long because the city was facing the problem of severe floods every year.  Therefore he consulted his  companion; King Khun Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Phayao. After the consultant, he decided to look for a better geographic location to build a city. He eventually founded Nakhon Ping Chiang Mai which later on  became the new capital of the Lanna kingdom. Therefore it could be concluded that Wiang Kum Kam was just an experiment city.


The capsizing

Wiang Kum Kam capsized because of the severe flood sometime between the year 1550  and 1774 C.E. when it belonged to Burmar.  Burmar governed over Lanna for two hundred years. But there was no evidence referred to Wiang Kum Kam regarding the flood. Even it was the major and severe flood and  should be recorded. But there was no record in any history about it. Wiang Kum Kam was  buried under sludge and difficult to revamp.  Various monasteries and ancient remains such as deserted pagodas and temples were stuck in the ground level about 1:50 to 2:00 meters deep from the surface.  E-Kang Temple was in the deepest sink. Follow by Pu Pia Temple and Pu Par Dom Temple.


The excavation Found

In the year 1984 C.E. the story of Wiang Kum Kam became of interest to scholars and the general public.  The 4th section of Sillapakorn (Art Department) had renovated Kam Tom Temple at Chang Kum Temple and the area around. Until the year 2002 C.E., Wiang Kum Kam was developed into one of the attractions of Chiang Mai. Wiang Kum Kam is now considered as a pure culture of Lanna which is  an important basic to study Lanna's culture especially at Chang Kum Temple.


Location and Geographic

Wiang Kum Kam was built in a rectangular shaped with the length of 850 meters from the south-east to northeast, and the width of 600 meters.  The Ping River was flowing in the same line to the east of the city in ancient times. Therefore Wiang Kum Kam was located on the same side of the river with Chiang Mai City which is on the west coast of the river. But some people believed that because of the Ping River  had changed the direction of its watercourse, Wiang Kum Kam was switched to the east side of the river like in the present.


There was a hypothesis that the river changed its direction around the 23rd of Buddha Decade. The change of the river caused the severe flood that left the entire city of  Wiang Kum Kam under sludge for many hundred year until  the name of Wiang Kum Kam faded away from history and believed that it was only the town in the chronicle. However, many people believed that another hypothesis is that may be that the war between Thailand and Burma that fled people away from the city leaving the city abandon behind.

Wiang Kum Kam is now on the 3rd to the 4th kilometer of the  Chiang Mai – Lamphun Road. It is on the right side of the road in the south-east direction from the city of Chiang Mai. It is in sub- distric of Tha Wang Tan, the district of  Saraphi and near the eastern shore of the river Ping.


The general geographic condition of Wiang Kum Kam is located in basin plain of Chiang Mai – Lamphun.  The Ping River is a major river. The mother source of the  River is at Doi Tuay Mountian in the district of Chiang Dao, in Chiang Mai Province. The basin plain is the largest plain in the Upper North and is in between  mountains. The area covered  part of Chiang Mai and Lamphun around 13 districts (10 districts are in the province of Chiang Mai. That includes Mae Tang, Mae Rim, Sansai, Doi Saket, Sankampaeng, Maung Chiang Mai,  Saraphi, Hang Dong, San Pa Tong and Chom Thong. And three districts are in the province of Lamphun. That includes Maung Lamphun, Pa Sang and Baan Hong. The total area of the basin plains is approximately 940,000 rai.

The Important ancient remains


The survey found that there are over 40 sites of the ancient remains in the area of Wiang Kum Kam. Some are the ancient Buddhist temples and some are the ancient Buddha image.  The important one are  Chedi Liam Temple, Chang Kham Temple, the pagoda of Kum Kam Temple, Noi Temple,  Pu Pia Temple, Pra That Khao Temple and E-Kang Temple. The art and architecture are varied and mixed between the old and the modern form of ancient Lanna.


There is the legend of Pra That Khao. It was a story of the queen of the King Meng Rai, Eua Ming Wiang Chai. The queen was disappointed that the King had broken his promise of having only one wife. He made that promise when they lived together in Chiang Saen. Later on after he won the battle with Burma, Burma gave  allegiance by giving Princess Pai Koma  to be the King other wife. The queen was in a tragic so she ordained as a nun at Pra Tha Khao Temple and died there. The King died of lightning when walking to a market as a result of breaking his promise to the queen.

After the 4th section of Sillapakorn (Art Department) had renovated around the area of Wiang Kum Kam. They discovered many temples were sunk under the ground.


Kham Tom Temple

The King Meng Rai instructed to build Kham Tom Temple during the year 1290 C.E. In the temple there is a 12 meters wide and 18 meters high pagoda foundation. The 4 direction of arched entrance were build by using Buddha image to pile up in 2 layers. In the lower layer had 4 Buddha images. The upper layer had  2 standing Buddha images. Besides, there are a sanctuary, a spire shaped pagoda and a spherical bell shaped pagoda . Within the area of Khan Tom Temple also has a bodh tree (a kind of Buddha tree) which its seed was delivered from Sri Lanka and the Buddha image of baked clay from the period of Haripunchai.


Pu Pia Temple


Pu Pia Temple is one of the beautiful temples of  Wiang Kum Kam. The structure of the temple  and a spire shaped pagoda are still in complete condition.  The ancient remains include a high platform sanctuary, a pagoda, a chapel, a  butterfly patterned spirit house and  an altar. The pagoda is decorated with beautiful stucco.


Che Di Liem Temple (Ku Kam)

The original name of the temple means 'The temple of the gold pagoda. The word “Ku” means pagoda and “Kam “ means gold. King Meng Rai instructed to build this temple around the year 1288 C.E. The main pagoda is five levels spire shaped. It influenced by Haripunchai design and was build in the early period of Wiang Kum Kam.


E-Kang Temple

The temple was named E-Kang  because langurs, a kind of money called E- Kang in Lanna Langauge used to live in the ruins of the temple. The ancient remains in this temple are a sanctuary on the same foundation with a pagoda. The sanctuary size is 20 * 13.50 meters and the pagoda is spherical bell shape.


That Khao Temple

It was called That Khao because its pagoda was white wash plastered. The ancient remains include a sanctuary, a pagoda, a chapel and a spire. The construction was done twice. In the first time the pagoda, the sanctuary and the chapel were built. Later on when the pagoda was ruining, it was renovated again with a bigger foundation. The second time a spire was built to be a foundation of a Buddha image.


Oong Dam Temple

This temple is located on the north west inside the city wall. Before it was excavated, the area was a longan garden and there were two mounds. The villagers called them King Meng Rai Mound and King Oong Dam Mound. From the hypotheses, the name Oong Dam was called according to the black Buddha image that was there before. The ancient remains in this temple area include many building of sanctuaries, arches, a pagoda and a temple wall.

King Meng Rai Temple

This temple is on the south-east of Oong Dam temple. The name was given by the Fine Art Department since there were no evidence in the history of this temple. It is close to Oong Dam Temple just las they are one temple. The uniqueness of this temple is that there was no entrance to the sanctuary at the front but there was one on the left (if  facing the front of the temple). The pagoda has some traces of glass mosaics and stucco.


Hua Nong Temple

This temple is located within the city walls close to the north. The temple includes arches, a chapel, a spire and a pagoda. The arch at the entrance was decorated with  monkey, lion and graceful swans stucco.


Kum Kam Temple

This temple is located in the north of Khan Tom Temple. The construction in the temple include a sanctuary, a Buddha cubicle  and an octagonal pagoda.


Noi Temple

Noi Temple is located on the west of Khan Tom Temple. Before a renovation, there were two mound in the area. People built houses in the area and there were evidences that some people dig for treasures. The ancient remains includes a sanctuary and a pagoda. The sanctuary is facing to the north-east. The pagoda has a square foundation of 13.25 * 13.25 meters and 1.64 meters high. The body of the pagoda is also square shaped with 6.20 *6.20 meters. The body is quite small compare to the  foundation.


Mai Sang Temple

is located in the south-east corner of  Wiang Kum Kam surrounded with rice paddies. Before an excavation it was a rectangular mound and Mai Sang trees. The name of the temple is from the name of trees grown in the area. The ancient remains include an octagonal pagoda and a foundation of an arch and a temple wall.


Goo Khoa Temple

is located on Chiang Mai – Lampun Road. It is in Nong Hoi Distric of Chiang – Mai Province. Before an excavation there were a 5 meters high pagoda surrounded by mounds. After the excavation, three ancient remains were found; a pagoda, a temple wall and an arch. The pagoda is Lanna style with tightly placed bricks. The top of the pagoda is a spherical  bell on top of an octagonal based lotus. The sanctuary has a lotus petal patterned foundation.


Ku Pa Dom Temple

is located on the south-west of Wiang Kum Kam. The temple was named after the name of the land lord. The ancient remains include a big foundation of a sanctuary, steps to the sanctuary with its railings and a foundation of a pagoda. There is a wall around the temple and an arch entrance on the front of the temple. This temple was build in the 21st - 22nd Buddhist Century.


Bot Temple is in the west of Wiang Kum Kam. The ancient remains include a foundation of a sanctuary and a square shaped foundation of a pagoda.


Ku Ai Lan Temple

The temple was named after the name of the land lord. The ancient remains include a sanctuary facing to the east, a square foundation pagoda,  an altar, temple walls and an arch entrance on the east of the temple.


Ku Ai Lee Temple

is a small temple. The ancient remains include a sanctuary, a foundation of a pagoda and an altar.


Ku Ma Kleau Temple

is located in the east of Wiang Kum Kam. The temple is named after a kind of the tree grown on the ruins of the temple. After an excavation, a sanctuary on the same foundation with a pagoda facing to the east were found.

Ku Lid Mai Temple

is located in the south of  Wiang Kum Kam. The temple name was also called after the name of trees grown on the temple. The ancient remains include a foundation of a sanctuary, an octagonal pagoda, an arch and temple walls.


Ku Jok Pok Temple

is outside Wiang Kum Kam's wall to the south-east. The ancient remains include a foundation of a sanctuary and a pagoda.


Nan Chang Temple

The name of the temple is name after the name of the landlord. The front of the temple faces the Ping River. The entrance arch has traces of the stucco decoration. Next to the arch there is a pathway, a sanctuary and a base of a buddha image decorated with stucco. On the back of the sanctuary there is a two leveled square foundation of a pagoda. Across the pagoda is a spire. Next to the spire is a chapel.


Sao Hin Temple

is located in Nong Hoi sub-district, Muang District, Chiang Mai Province. There is no evidence found refer to this temple.


Nong Peang is on the west side of Chiang – Mai Lumphun Road. It is in Nong Peang Sub – district, Sarapee District, Chiang Mai Province. This temple may be built in Haripunchai Period. There are traces of objects printed in Lamphun design. The major construction in this temple is a sanctuary and a sleeping Buddha image in 39 meters long.



Sri Boon Reang

is in Nong Hoi Sub-district, Maung District, Chiang Mai Province. It was a temple that was reconstruction  in the posterior. Monks live in this temple today.


Khoi Sam Ton Temple

is located in the north-east of Wiang Kum Kam. There were  three of a kind of tree at the observation point of the temple. Therefore the temple were name after that three trees. There are no evidence about this temple in the history.


Pan Loa Temple

is located in Nong Hoi Sub- district, Muang District, Chiang Mai Province. The name of the temple that villagers call is may be from the name of a senior commissioned officer who supported the temple. The temple is on Tah Wang Tan Road outside of Wiang Kum Kam to the north. There are traces of bricks, Buddha images, and some construction all over the temple area. But it is hard to identify them.



The archeologists believe that there are more temples in the ground and under villagers house  that need to be excavated.

In the mean time try a visit to the area.




lamphun-wat phra that hariphunchai-01     
       ited in mid-town, Wat Phra That Hariphunchai was built during the reign of King Arthitayarat, a descendant of Queen Chamthewi some 800 years ago.A principal landmark is the 46-metre tall golden Chedi which contains a hair of the Lord Buddha, having nine-tiered umbrella, made of gold weighing approximately 6,498.75 grams...

Chiang Rai

      on the bank of the Kok River within town area, contains what is believed to be the oldest Holy Relic even before King Mengrai built Chiang Rai. Doi Chom Thong has been a sacred site for aextremely long time. The site was surely reverenced as the home of local spirits before Buddhism arrived in the area.

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