It doesn’t matter where in the city you are, you can see the mountain of Doi Suthep.
Each time we pop to the shops, walk Eden, or fill up our water bottles at the water station. A quick glance upwards and we are constantly reminded of where we are. Tempted by the trip up there and reminded how infrequently we do go, taking it for granted now that we live here.
A trip up to the top of Doi Suthep is probably on most visitors’ lists when they arrive in Chiang Mai.
Taking its name from the mountain it sits on, the hill top temple of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is the main draw.
Doi Suthep Temple
Songthaws gather at the base of the hill near Chiang Mai University on Huai Kaeo Road ready to take you up the winding 16 km to the temple.
309 steps on the Naga staircase await you before you reach the temple itself. For those unable to manage the stairs, a cable car can take you up.
J at the stairs
The Doi Suthep Temple is a Buddhist place of worship and an important and sacred site to many Thais, it dates back to the 13th century when the first chedi was built.
The temple is split into lower and upper terraces. To enter the upper terrace where a dazzling gold chedi is housed, you must remove your shoes and be modestly dressed, covering shoulders and knees, wraps are provided if needed.
The view from Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is great, on a clear day you can see the whole of Chiang Mai city laid out before you. If you look carefully, you can even see the planes coming and going from the airport.
View of Chiang Mai
We have been up to the temple a couple of times now, we visited last week and as we are nearing the peak tourist season, there was a noticeable difference to the place. On our first couple of visits out of season, in April and June, the grounds were fairly quiet, not in the way of people but the general sounds you could hear were wildlife and the temple bells.
Last week when we visited, groups of performers were set up all over the temple. Monks were walking around with tourists gathered round them taking photographs. It just all felt a bit wrong somehow.
Still a visit up to the temple is well worth it, even if it’s just for the stunning view!
Statues inside Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
For more of a day out, you can hike up through the forest and get to the temple the way the monks did before the road was built in 1935, stopping for a rest halfway at the lovely and peaceful Wat Pha Lat.
Walk to Wat Pha Lat
Entry to the Doi Suthep temple is free to Thai nationals and 30 baht for foreigners.
Sacha El-Haj - 8 Miles from Home
Time Lapse of Doi Suthep Temple, Chedi area.
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