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Wiang Kum Kam

Chiang Mai has long been a favorite destination for tourists visiting Thailand, the city plentiful array of attractions capable of amaze travelers, who are willing to seek them out. In 1984, one of these hidden gems was been uncovered and is attracting visitors to Chiang Mai and then to journey the short 5 km off the tourist route to experience it. It is the ancient and sunken city of Wiang Kum Kam.
It is hidden within a tranquil neighborhood of traditional Thai wooden houses, Buddhist temples and longan orchards, are the sprawling remains of Wiang Kum Kam, an ancient capital city that briefly ruled over Lanna Kingdom over 700 years ago.

Do not miss a chance to visit this valuable legacy of early Lanna culture. A visit to Wiang Kum Kam Information Centre will provide  a clearer picture of Wiang Kum Kam in former times. The Site centre has different exhibitions including a multimedia room and other rooms featuring the historical past and significance of Wiang Kum Kam.

Wiang Kum Kam was established in 1281 AD by Chiang Mai founder, the revered King Mengrai, but was moved after only 15 years when the Ping River suddenly changed course and destoyed the city. King Mengrai moved his capital to the other side of the river, in the same location as present-day Chiang Mai, after flood waters buried it under alluvial soil. Through time, the name of Wiang Kum Kam faded away from local memory and was believed to be only a town in legend.

A systematic archeological study of Wiang Kum Kam began after local villagers discovered dozens of tablets in the ground of the Wat Chang Kham area in 1984. After that an excavation was carried out by the Fine Arts Department archeologists. The excavation yielded lots of evidence confirming that it was Wiang Kum Kam believed to be just myth city by then.

Aerial photographs and archeological exploration revised traces of the southern wall, and the northern and the eastern moats. It is speculated that the town was rectangular in shape, about 600 metres wide and 850 metres long, and the surrounding area of the ancient community spread over 3 sq. km. After the excavation and restoration to preserve the historical site inside and outside the town wall, it was found that there are altogether 42 buildings, mostly temples.

The best preserved is Wat Chedi Liam (or Wat Ku Kham Luang as known by the locals). This temple has never been seriously been affected by flooding. This principal chedi was built on a square base and is called 'Chedi Liam' as its body is angular in shape, which gives it its name. The five tiers of the chedi contains 60 niches for Buddha images. The nearby main assembly hall or vihara is very attractive with its teak wooden beams built in traditional Lanna style without using nails.

In Wat Chang Kham, there is the Cultural and Local Wisdom Learning Centre. The centre exhibits many interesting Lanna objects such as a traditional Lanna-style house equipped with utilities and a demonstration of ancient cloth weaving.

To get around the place, I would recommend that you buy a tour package that includes transport (an open-air tram for a group or a horse carriage for 2-4 persons) with a well-trained local guide, who knows sites the historical significance.

Tours are organized by the local community and the rates are reasonable and fixed. To arrange the tour package,contact Wiang Kum Kam Information Centre or the stands in Wat Chang Kham (Wat Kan Thom) or Wat Chedi Liam (Wat Ku Kham Luang).

 For more information, please contact Wiang Kum Kam Information Centre on tel. (66) [0] 5327 7322.


More details in an article of the Wiang Kumkam - ancient sunken city and it as a historical site and its uncovered remains.

 Photo By John Glines

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