Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Any trip to Chiang Mai will not be complete if you do not visit the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of the most wonderful and impressive Buddhist temples than anyone will ever see. The Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep settles very close to the top of Mount Suthep (Doi Suthep), and the temple is referred to by most people as the Doi Suthep. Tourists are often offered by every songthaew and tuk-tuk driver, a 15 kilometer trip up the winding road to reach the Chiang Mai Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
From the temple’s mountain that overlooks the whole city of Chiang Mai, the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is considered to be the most divine temples that one can find resting in the Northern part of Thailand, and the legend of this magnificent temple is learned by heart, by every student in Chiang Mai. The Wat Doi Suthep Chiang Mai can be considered as one alluring example of the amazing architectural design from Northern Thailand, as the temple reaches an arduous 306-long stairway that is bordered by mythical Naga serpents. The lengthy climb is designed to aid devotees to accumulate Buddhist merit, while pilgrims who cannot endure the strenuous climb can instead, take a funicular-styled lift that costs just 20 BAHT.
Because of its magnificence and splendor, the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is a place that you must see and explore once you arrive in the city of Chiang Mai. Reaching the top of the sacred temple, you will be greeted by a golden spire that embellishes the heart of the mountain top; as for the walls that surround the spire, it forms a little enclave and is richly bedecked with historical shrines and murals; once in this area, you will spot a gorgeous replica of the Emerald Buddha statue that is now housed in Bangkok.
The Chiang Mai Wat Phra That Doi Suthep was built in the year 1383 by King Keu Naone to keep safe and enshrine a piece of bone that is said to be from the historical Buddha shoulder. A wandering monk from Sukhothai has brought the bone shard to Lanna; and on the way, it broke into two pieces while he was at the foot of the mountain. One of the pieces was enshrined at the Wat Suan Dok, while the other was attached to a white sacred elephant that had meandered off into the rich and lush forests of Chiang Mai until it died. This then became the spot and location of where the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep was built.
The Wat Phra That Doi Suthep can easily be reached by car from Chiang Mai, and once you reach the foot of the Doi Suthep where you can readily park your vehicle, visitors can walk the long 309 steps to be able to arrive at the pagodas or if not, visitors can instead take the tram to reach the temple.
To have a little bit of an adventure, you can request for a songthaew which is a modest sized pickup truck that has seats along the sides of its concealed bed. You can get these vehicles from the small market area right at the corner of the Chotana and Manneenopparat roads that can be located just outside the gate of Changpuak. A roundtrip which includes a visit to the village of Doi Pui Meo, costs about 150 Baht.
There are a lot of other things to do in Chiang Mai especially when you are within the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep compound; you can join the various religious outreach programs that are conducted by the Doi Suthep Vipassana Meditation Center. There are Rot Daang that run from the bottom of the Doi Suthep temple, all the way to several areas in Chiang Mai; this includes the front or the entrance of the zoo, and also in front of the Wat Phra Singh, but remember that these vehicles only leave their points when they have gathered enough passengers for the ride, so it may take some time before you will be able to leave.
If you are someone who dislikes waiting, you can instead charter or rent a ride from the center or just like most of the locals and tourists, ride bicycles for mountain bike tours that start right in Chiang Mai, or you can easily walk to the temple right from the Chiang Mai University.
Things to Do In Chiang Mai
Considering that the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is among the most popular and prominent temples in the whole of Chiang Mai; a lot of people who come and visit the country of Thailand make sure that they at least get the chance to explore this wondrous sacred area. At the top of the hill where the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is, you can find the admired golden chedi (Phra That) of the Doi Suthep which allows the sunlight to reflect on it.
After praying at the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, you should not miss the chance of taking in the picturesque scenery of the surrounding towns of Chiang Mai and the city as well; and for those who wish to further explore the city after visiting the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, here are some other things to do in Chiang Mai:
Shopping Chiang Mai’s Famous Night Bazaar
The Night Bazaar, which is one of Chiang Mai most visited night attractions, is considered as the modern heritage of the Yunnanese’s original trading caravans that had once stopped along the age-old trading route between Simao and Mawlamyaing. Currently, a variety of items such as tourist souvenirs, decorations, figurines, clothing and more, are sold in the Night Bazaar which are items similar to those sold in the street markets of Bangkok.
Scorpion-Tailed River Cruise
Scorpion-tailed boats which are traditionally styled crafts are used for the river cruises that concentrate on the history and past events that have occurred in the Mae Ping River. These informative and educational cruises last from one to one hour and a half; the ride departs from the pier of Wat Srikhong which is located close to the Rim Ping Condo. At a certain point, they make a stop for some snacks at the associated Scorpion Boat Village.
Eating at the Kow Soy Siri Soy
This place is famous among the locals of Chiang Mai; it is an easy stop for tasty treats like the kow soy.