The day before leaving Chiang Mai, we finally got the chance to visit the must-go spot, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple, to complete our Chiang Mai “Trip”.
Most people just call the temple in a short way “Doi Suthep” as it is actually the name of the mountain where it is located.
The temple was built in 1383. There is a legend telling that the location of the temple was chosen by a white elephant. There was a monk named Sumanathera, who had a dream that instructed him to go to Pang Cha and look for a relic. The monk followed the instruction and went to Pang Cha and he found the relic. The relic had the magical powers, it glowed, it vanished and it could even recreate by itself. The monk brought it to the King of Sukhothai (Around the North Central Thailand today). However, the relic didn’t show any magic to the king and the King just told the monk to keep it. The King of Lan Na (The Northern Thailand today) heard about the relic and asked the monk to bring it to him. When the relic arrived in Lan Na, it broke into 2 pieces. The King then placed one on the back of a white elephant and released it back to the jungle. The white elephant climbed up to Doi Suthep and stopped and died. The King believed that it was an omen and ordered people to build a temple here. Many people believe that the relic is the Gautama Buddha‘s shoulder bone and is peacefully placing in Doi Suthep Temple.
The enormous view from the Temple.
To go up to the mountain, you can take the songthaew. There are 2 main points to take the songthaew to go up to Doi Suthep, one is at the Old Town, North Gate (Chang Phuak Gate), another one is near the Chiang Mai Zoo. The above picture is near the Chiang Mai Zoo. The trip to go up to the mountain will take around 25 minutes from the Chiang Mai Zoo. Each songthaew will carry max. 10 passagers, so at the non-peak hours, people have to wait for some times the songthaew to be filled up to 10 persons. Of course, if you don’t want to wait, you can charter a songthaew, it will be around THB 500 to 600. One-way trip to the mountain is THB 50/per person, Return trip is THB 80/per person. If you choose to pay the return trip, you don’t have to pay for the first ride, you will pay when you get back to the songthaew after the temple visit. The driver will allow you 1.5 hours for the sight seeing and he will pick you up again at the drop off/pick up area.
The Entrance before the steps to the Doi Suthep Temple.
This is the stairs to go up to the Temple, some people said the total is 306 steps, some said is 309 steps, and I didn’t count it personally. The stairs doesn’t look long and steep but to speak sincerely, I had sore legs the next day. Apart from the stairs, you can take the tram on the right hand side of the entrance. The fee is THB 20. I heard it just takes 1 min to get you up to the temple, but I am not sure how long to wait for the queue…
I don’t know what exactly the Donation Banner talking about in Thai, but I guess you can take a picture with these little cute girls who dress up in the minority costumes and make a little donation afterward.
This is the Entrace of the Temple and for the non-local, they have to buy the entrance ticket.
The Entrance fee is THB 30 and for locals it’s free. There are “Do and Don’t in the temple” listed on the ticket:
1, Dress politely, do not wear shorts ( for guys are ok)
2, Show respect in the temple and Shrine
3, Take off your shoes before entering the platform around the Golden Chedi
4, Keep your head lower than Buddha images and monks
5, Don’t touch the Buddha images
6, Don’t display affection for another person in public
7, Always keep clean
This is the famous Golden Chedi and people believe the relic is placing inside this Chedi.
Inside the Temple.
The White Elephant which allegedly brought the relic up to the Doi Suthep Mountain. The stone at the back has told the story of the temple, the relic and this white elephant.
The front of the Temple.
Apart from the Main Temple where the Golden Chedi is located, there are other temples around for people to enshrine.
After the 306 steps, this is the reward. The massive view of the whole Chiang Mai. You can also sit down at one of the benches and enjoy the quietness and fresh air.
You don’t need a whole day for the Doi Suthep Temple visit. 1 to 1.5 hours is really enough. But this scenery makes it all worthwhile.