3 In Asia/ Thailand

Doi Suthep – Chiang Mai, Thailand

They say if you visit Chiang Mai and don’t go to Doi Suthep then you haven’t really been there. Well, I took that seriously and made sure that it was a priority. Chiang Mai has no shortage of gorgeous Wats. Literally every three blocks there is another breathtaking temple, more ornate and detailed than the last. So, Doi Suthep couldn’t be that special could it? HAHA! Yeah, no. In the world of temple olympics, Doi Suthep is a gold medalist. It’s literally gold. All gold. Doi Suthep - GRACE GOES GLOBAL I booked my half day tour of the temple complex with my hostel. I think the touring company was called Overland Tours. The guide spoke good english, the group was small, and it got the job done. The drive from the old city was about 45 minutes of very, very winding roads. The views were gorgeous but the barfing sensation was very real. Be prepared for that if you get motion sickness like me.

Our first stop was off at a hill tribe market, the Maio tribe to be precise. This was a good time to grab some gifts if needed or just hear about the life and history of the Maio people. Doi Suthep - GRACE GOES GLOBAL Doi Suthep - GRACE GOES GLOBAL

Once we were done with the market place we headed to the site of the temple. In order to reach the pagoda you have to climb up over 300 steps. The staircase is guarded by colourful dragons and is surrounded by jungle. You will also find many young girls in traditional Thai garb offering photos for some money. I honestly don’t know what the situation is with that, but I hope it’s harmless.

If climbing the stairs in the Thai heat seems undoable for you there is an escalator option but will cost you some cash.

Doi Suthep - GRACE GOES GLOBAL

Doi Suthep - GRACE GOES GLOBAL

Once you’ve reached the top you will see how large the campus (totally not the correct word) is. When walking around the outside of the main temple you will be surrounded by exotic fruit, large bells, and ornate statues. The view from Doi Suthep is one of the biggest draws. It looks out over the entire city which gives you a sense of just how big Chiang Mai is. Unfortunately, on the day that I visited it was very hazy due to a hash of forest fires that had recently broken out; but I still got a sense of what I should have seen. Surprisingly the viewing area wasn’t very crowded because if was all the way in the back, so make sure you check out all the nooks and crannies.

Doi Suthep - GRACE GOES GLOBAL

Doi Suthep - GRACE GOES GLOBAL Doi Suthep - GRACE GOES GLOBAL

Before you enter the main temple area you must remove your shoes and women must be wearing trousers or skirts that go below the knees. If you forget and happen to be wearing shorts, don’t worry, you can rent a sash for a small fee.

As you enter you are greeted by the glory that is Doi Suthep. It is pure gold with red accents and is filled with more photographic opportunities than you can fathom. The Wat was founded in 1383 and has continued to be expanded ever since. The legacy and age of this place can be felt everywhere. Be sure to step inside the temple itself and you may just get blessed by the resident monk. He blessed our group in about seven different languages so I don’t think that was his first rodeo.

This is first and foremost a place of religion and offers a unique look into Buddhism. You can watch as people pray and walk around the central pagoda a number of times carrying flowers or lit incense. There are also a number of impressive statues including a green glass Buddha and twelve differently posed Buddhas each symbolizing a month of the year.

Doi Suthep - GRACE GOES GLOBAL

Doi Suthep - GRACE GOES GLOBAL

Yes, it was hot and crowded but worth literally every second I was there. We spent about two hours altogether wandering around which seemed like a good enough visit. It’s easy to see why this place is the pride and joy of the city. This was one of my favourite spots during my trip to Thailand and it is definitely a must do.

Doi Suthep - GRACE GOES GLOBAL

Doi Suthep - GRACE GOES GLOBAL

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    10110
    February 19, 2016 at 5:18 am

    A CM local stumbled upon your blog.

    Regarding Thai girl in hill tribe grab you mentioned, it’s harmless, but a bit too pricey IMO.

    At first I thought I would leave it but since I reply you, hope you don’t mind the story just FYI.

    If you ride to Doi Suthep you’ll see a statue of a monk on your left at the base of the mountain. Thai called this monk Kruba Srivichai.

    In the old days, it was very difficult for people to reach Wat Prathat Doi Suthep. There was not a wide road as present. The way was narrow and bumpy through the jungle. No car can climb up there. The journey would be on foot only and it took on average five hours.

    80 years ago, at that time the government couldn’t raise sufficient money to build the road, so Kruba Srivichai, the most revered monk of Lanna or Norther n Thailand had come to CM to initiate the road construction project from the base of the mountain to the pagoda.

    With the news of the construction project in the North, Buddhists came from all directions and flooded the city to contribute their labor and effort without any wages. There were from 3,000 to 4,000 people each day from many northern provinces. Due to the increasing number of volunteers, the monk limited the construction to only 10 or 15 feet per village.

    The road through the jungle with more than 10 kms. was completed within five months and 22 days without any government fund, and in spite of the fact that in those days they used only hoes, axes, and spaded as their tools.

    Today, Wat Prathat Doi Suthep is one of the most sacred temple for Northern Thai people. For almost 50 years Chiang Mai University students esp. all freshmen have a yearly tradition. They will walk 14 kms (plus 300 stair steps of the temple) from their university up the mountain to Wat Pratat Doi Suthep to pay respect. There’s only one simple rule: Leave no one behind. If your friend’s tired, you have to help. If your friend is a disabilities, you have to push his/her wheelchair. If your friend cannot walk, you have to carry him/her.

    I would not recommend anyone to go to the temple on that day since it will be really crowded unless you want to take pictures of the trekking. Normally they do it on any day of Sep. so, if you are in CM. at that time, be sure to check the schedule.

    Here’s the clip of last year’s trekking.

    https://youtu.be/cuER4PexGdI

    TH and CM are not different from other places on earth. We have both good and bad things, also good and bad people. Hope you find the first ones, not just in TH but wherever you go.

    Be our guest again anytime. You are always welcome.

    • Reply
      Grace Dawson
      February 21, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      Thank you for such an informative reply!

  • Reply
    Doi Suthep - Chiang Mai, Thailand - http://localvideoclips.com/
    June 4, 2016 at 1:29 am

    […] A must do in Chiang Mai is a visit to Doi Suthep. It is the unofficial symbol of the city and absolutely worth every minute spent exploring. The temple is quite large and is almost completely gold. Check out my blog post for more! Doi Suthep – Chiang Mai, Thailand […]

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