This hill top Temple is not only popular with the foreign tourists but also the locals. Many of the locals used to pay homage to the Buddha of this wat, they have strong believed that their prayers will always answered. For the foreign tourists, there are others attractive places in this route. After visiting the wat, travel further up hill about 10 minutes drive you come to the Queen's retreat and garden "Phuping Royal Palace". ( Do not go during lunch hour, they are close) After the Queen's retreat continue that travel up the hill 5 minutes you will come to the Hmong Village. Just go there and walk around the village you will feel what type of life they are leading, the houses they live in, their children lifestyles, and many others. With all these ATTRACTIONS it take up your day. The best to visit these places is by a motor cycle.
Our first contact with Thai temples was Doi Suthep. It was an excellent way to start.
The location, the sights, and the temple itself make the visit highly recommendable.
The cars can´t go right to the summit where the temple is, so, the best way, is to take the small railway up, and to descend by the decorated staircase.
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 chedi 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.
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is located ontop of a mountain overlooking Chiang Mai. According to legend, a relic was strapped to a white elephant that was released into the jungle. The elephnat eventually climbed to the top of the mountain and died. The elephant was then burried at this site and a budhist temple was constructed to commerate this site.
The pagoda is symbolic landmark in Chiang Mai. It depicts the progression of Buddhism and of Lanna Thai from past to present.
According to legend, a 14th century monk from Sukhothai found a relic from Buddha, and the Lanna King Keu Naone offered to enshrine the piece. The relic was placed on the back of a white elephant, a sacred symbol. He carried the relic up the mountain, stopped on the site where the temple stands today, and died. The temple was constructed in 1383, with a statue honouring the white elephant inside the front gate.
I took a hotel tour to visit the temple as my original plans had fallen through.
It's a windy road up to the temple, with nice green vegetation.
Admission is 50 baht, which includes a two way tram ticket. We caught the tram up the and walked down the stairs. The admission for walking up is 30 baht.
Rising 1676 meters above the city the Chiang Mai, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, is one of the most important religious destination in Chiang Mai.
Originally built in the year 1386 by King Keuna the Great, the story behind its construction of tells of a white elephant (which only a king can own) ascending the mountains with one-half of a sacred buddha relic.
This temple was built where the white elephant made its final resting place and was named after hermit Suthep Reusi, who had lived there 1,300 years ago.
It is widely said that if you did not visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, then you had not visited Chiang Mai. According to my guide, if you had not been blessed by the holy monk in the temple, then you had not been to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
Visiting the temple is easy, as there are various public transport options available to take you to the base of the temple. A songthew (red taxi) will be able to take you up 1 way to the temple from Chiang Mai Zoo or University at only 30 baht per person. Tuk tuks are not allowed up Doi Suthep.
If you do not want to climb the 306 steps up to the temple from its base, tram rides are available to take you up as well as down. The basic admission charge is 30 baht for any foreign visitor or 50 baht with a 2-way tram ride .
Due to the high altitude of the temple, the air there is cool and very refreshing. On a good clear day, you can also have a good aerial view of the city from the lookout terrace around the temple.
Along the way up or down, there are 2 other smaller temples (tied to the white elephant legend as well) which you can visit as well as the royal family's winter residence, the Phu Phing Palace which you can visit on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Official Holidays, when the royal family is not in residence. The Huai Kaeo Falls are in the area as well.
Heading out of Chiang Mai, following a windy road up a mountainside, you come to Doi Suthep Temple, a spectacular shrine. The temperature starts to fall, which is pleasant after the heat in Chiang Mai.
AN INTERESTING STORY..........
According to an old legend, the king was persuaded to build the temple when the monk Sumana presented him with a bone relic of the historical Buddha.
He let fate decide its location, and he tied the relic to the back of an Elephant and set it loose. For days the elephant stomped through the jungle, shadowed by the king's men, until it reached the mountaintop of Doi Suthep.
The elephant is said to have climbed up Doi Suthep, then named (Sugar Elephant Mountain), trumpeted three times before dying at the site.
The elephant made a good choice because the king readily agreed to the spot.
Construction began 1386 and was completed within a few years.
Within the site are pagodas, statues, bells and shrines.
Doi Suthep sits a good thousand meters above the surrounding landscape, so it is a great place to view the countryside.
By the time I visited here, I was well and truly "Templed/Watted out!"
Don't let this put you off coming, as it is well worth it, just for the surrounding views over Chiang Mai, ... Stunning!
There are plenty of persistent hawkers ready to meet you when you alight from your transport!
You can climb 309 steps, or............
Take the easy way to the top by Tram 50t/b RETURN TICKET
SONGTAEW FROM CHIANG MAI in 2009 cost 40 -50 t/b
The temple was built in the 14th century & is situated atop Doi Suthep, a mountain that overlooks the cities western suburbs. At a height of 1601 metres, the temple & its golden chedi can be seen from the city on a clear day. The journey to the temple is a short 16km drive from the city, the road meanders upwards through rainforest passing several waterfalls.
At the entrance to the temple there is a community of souvenir vendors & food stalls. Once through them you can ride the funicular to the temple. The other option is to ascend a beautiful 304 step stairway. This is lined with 2 nagas (protective serpents).
The Wat is one of the most revered Buddhist shrines in Northern Thailand. There are many Buddha images, temple bells & murals here. Also a White Elephant Monument & Bell Tower.
The highlight has to be the 16th century gold-plated Lanna Chedi. There were many Thais walking clockwise around it holding lotus buds & incense.
Once you've looked at the temple you can admire the panoramic views of Chiang Mai.
The temple is open daily with an admission fee.
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is a Buddhist temple and is often called Doi Suthep but this is actually the name of the mountain it is on. The temple is 15 km from Chiang Mai.
At the base of the temple there are 309 steps to the pagodas or you can take the cable car up and back for 20baht, entry to Doi Sutep is 30baht.
Doi Sutep is very beautiful and it is a good scenic drive up there with lots of photo opportunities along the way and the views from the temple of the city of Chiang Mai on a clear day are fantastic.
Legend has it that holy relics were found during the reign of King Kuena (1355 - 1385) and were then placed in a howdah on the back of a white elephant which carried them to Doi Sutep.
Then the elephant dropped dead after its long journey.
The present complex dates from the 13th century and has been expanded and restored many times.
There are also good markets near the car park and a few local restaurants.
Some of the prices we paid here were:
Lunch at markets near car park
Chicken with garlic/pepper, fried rice & pork
Chicken with green pepper
Ladies long sleeve top 150baht
Long blue shorts 150baht
Men’s elephant dress shirt 150baht.
Doi Sutep is a definite must do and from there make sure you go up the top of the mountain to Bhubing Palace. I have a separate page on the Palace.
While there are escalators that can help you ascend to the main structure of Wat Doi Suthep, I fervently believe the stairs are the best way to go. These stairs, hundreds of steps high with lovely painted dragon rails on either side, give you the feeling of a pilgrim, heading up to the temple. Use the time to contemplate your fate and your place in the universe as your legs pump under you. Reaching the top will leave you breathless, a good practice for the views from the top!!
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