Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Location: Mueang Chiang Mai District, Doi Suthep 50200, Thailand
Reason to visit: Buddhist sacred place, Impressive views of downtown Chiang Mai can be seen
Our ratings: ★★★★
Entrance fee: 30 Baht
Opening Hours: 06:00 – 18:00
Doi Suthep (ดอยสุเทพ), is a mountain ("doi") west of Chiang Mai, Thailand. It is 1,676 metres (5,499 ft) in elevation and is one of the twin peaks of a granite mountain. The temple Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is on top of the mountain. The temple is often referred to as "Doi Suthep" as well although this is actually the name of the mountain where it's located. Doi Suthep is the most famous attraction in Chiang Mai, it is like Big Ben to London, and the Empire State Building to New York. It is a sacred site to many Thai people. The temple is 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from Chiang Mai city centre. From the temple, impressive views of downtown Chiang Mai can be seen.
History of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
The original founding of the temple remains a legend and there are a few varied versions. The temple is said to have been founded in 1383 when the first stupa was built. Over time, the temple has expanded, and been made to look more extravagant with many more holy shrines added. A road to the temple was first built in 1935.
What to expect
There are two long dragons on the sides of the steps to wat phra that doi suthep. Stepping up along the colorful dragon ladder, after more than 300 stone steps, the magnificent temple will appear in front of you. The umbrella cover is made of gold; the statues are covered with gold foil; the roof, the blue sky and the white clouds, the Buddha's light are all beautiful. A great photo opportunity awaits you. There are three treasures in the temple that you should not miss, the relics of Sakyamuni, the crystal lotus placed at the top of the tower, and the Buddha statue of Sakyamuni.
Whether it is day or night, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep has its own flavor to visit. During the day, there are lots of devout and religious people worshipping Budda. You can take a few lotuses to worship like a local, or you can enjoy the view from the observation deck. From the observation deck overlooking Chiang Mai, you will capture the green hills, the ancient city, and the unparalleled scenery.
It is indeed a good choice to come at night. There are few people, so you have a chance to have a conversation with monks. No one dares to speak out loud, for fear of destroying this tranquil and sacred atmosphere. After the crowd and noise vanish at night, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep becomes extremely quiet. The night scene is also unforgettable.
Once inside the temple grounds visitors must be appropriately dressed and must remove footwear.
How to get to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
The wat can be reached by road from Chiang Mai. From the car park at the temple's base visitors can climb 309 steps to reach the pagodas or take a tram.