Discovering the Beauty of Doi Suthep Temple in Chiang Mai

Doi Suthep Temple is one of the most sacred and popular temples in Northern Thailand. Located on the mountain of Doi Suthep, the temple boasts a stunning view of Chiang Mai. The temple is also known as Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and is considered to be the most important temple in the region.

According to legend, the temple was built to hold a piece of bone from the Buddha’s shoulder. The temple’s construction began in 1386 and has since become a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The temple’s architecture is a blend of Lanna and Burmese styles, with a golden chedi (stupa) that is said to contain relics of the Buddha. Visitors can climb the Naga staircase, which is adorned with golden serpents, to reach the temple’s entrance.

Doi Suthep Temple is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Chiang Mai. The temple is open every day from 6 am to 8 pm, and visitors are advised to dress modestly and remove their shoes before entering the temple. The temple’s location on Doi Suthep mountain also makes it a great spot to take in the stunning views of Chiang Mai.

History and Legend

Doi Suthep Temple is one of the most important temples in Northern Thailand, and it has a rich history and legend behind it. The temple, also known as Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, is located on top of a hill about 15 kilometers from Chiang Mai city. Here’s a brief overview of the temple’s history and legend.

Legend of the White Elephant

According to legend, the temple was founded in the 14th century when a monk named Sumana brought a relic of the Buddha to Northern Thailand. The relic was said to be enshrined in a white elephant, which was released into the jungle. The elephant climbed up Doi Suthep Mountain, trumpeted three times, and died. This was interpreted as a sign that the spot was chosen to build a temple to enshrine the relic.

Construction and Architecture

Construction of the temple began in 1386 and was completed in 1402. The temple has undergone several renovations and expansions over the years, and it now features a mix of architectural styles, including Lanna, Sukhothai, and Burmese. The temple has a golden chedi, which houses the relic of the Buddha, and a beautiful courtyard with several shrines and statues.

The temple can be reached via a long staircase with over 300 steps, or by a cable car. Visitors are required to dress modestly and remove their shoes before entering the temple. The temple is open daily from 6 am to 6 pm, and admission is free, although donations are welcome.

In conclusion, the history and legend of Doi Suthep Temple are an important part of Northern Thailand’s cultural heritage. The temple is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Buddhism, Thai architecture, or history.

Relics and Sacredness

The Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple is one of the most sacred places in Northern Thailand, and it is known for its relics and the sacredness of the site. Let’s take a closer look at these aspects of the temple.

Buddha Relic

The name of the temple, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, actually explains what the temple has. “Phra” entails an honorific Buddha image, and “That” means a relic. Combining the two tells us that there is a relic of Buddha’s in the sanctity of the Wat, and in this case, it’s half of Buddha’s shoulder bone. The relic is enshrined in a golden chedi, which is one of the most important parts of the temple.

Sacredness of Doi Suthep

The temple is located on top of a hill, forming Doi Suthep, and it is an important venue for the devout. The site is sacred because of the legend of a white elephant that carried the relic of Buddha to the hill. According to the legend, the elephant climbed the hill, trumpeted three times, then dropped dead, signifying the spot where the temple was to be built.

The temple itself is a beautiful example of northern Thai architecture and is situated at 1,000 meters above sea level, offering an impressive view of Chiang Mai city. The site is considered sacred by locals, and visitors are expected to dress modestly and show respect while visiting.

In conclusion, the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple is a must-visit destination for those interested in the history and culture of Northern Thailand. The temple’s relics and sacredness make it a unique and special place to visit, and visitors should take the time to appreciate the site’s significance while exploring the temple and its surroundings.

Temple Grounds and Features

The temple grounds of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep are expansive and filled with numerous features that visitors can explore. Here are some of the most notable:

Chedi and Pagoda

The most prominent structure on the temple grounds is the golden chedi, which is said to contain a relic of the Buddha. Visitors can climb the stairs to the top of the chedi for a stunning view of the surrounding area. Near the chedi is a smaller pagoda that houses a statue of the Emerald Buddha.

Naga and Bell

As visitors make their way up the stairs to the chedi, they will pass by a long serpent-like naga statue on each side of the staircase. These mythical creatures are believed to protect the temple. At the top of the stairs, visitors can ring the large bell, which is said to bring good luck.

Statues and Shrines

Throughout the temple grounds, visitors will find numerous statues and shrines dedicated to various deities and figures from Buddhist mythology. One of the most impressive is the statue of the white elephant, which is said to have carried the Buddha’s relic to the site where the temple now stands.

Visitors can also explore the numerous shrines and meditation areas throughout the temple grounds. One of the most peaceful is the small shrine near the waterfall, which is surrounded by lush greenery and the sound of flowing water.

In summary, the temple grounds of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep are filled with a variety of features that are sure to impress and inspire visitors. From the towering chedi to the peaceful meditation areas, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Views and Transportation

Viewpoints and Cable Car

Doi Suthep Temple is located on a mountain peak, and visitors can enjoy stunning views of Chiang Mai city and the surrounding areas. The temple’s main terrace offers a panoramic view of the city, and visitors can also climb up to the upper terrace for an even better view.

For those who want to take in the views without climbing stairs, a cable car is available to take visitors up to the temple. The cable car ride is a convenient and scenic way to reach the temple, and it offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and forests.

Transportation to Doi Suthep

There are several transportation options available for visitors who want to visit Doi Suthep Temple. The most popular option is to take a shared red songthaew, which is a type of local transportation in Chiang Mai. Songthaews can be found near the Zoo on Huay Kaew Road, and they cost around 40 baht per person each way.

Another option is to hire a private taxi, which offers more flexibility and convenience. Taxis can be found at most hotels and tourist areas, and the cost for a round trip is around 800-1000 baht.

Finally, visitors who want to avoid the crowds and enjoy a more unique experience can rent a motorbike or bicycle to ride up to the temple. This option is not recommended for inexperienced riders, as the road up to the temple is steep and winding.

Transportation OptionProsCons
Shared SongthaewAffordable, Local ExperienceLimited Schedule, Crowded
Private TaxiConvenient, FlexibleExpensive
Motorbike/Bicycle RentalUnique Experience, Budget-friendlyNot recommended for inexperienced riders, Steep road

No matter which transportation option visitors choose, they are sure to enjoy the stunning views and unique cultural experience that Doi Suthep Temple has to offer.

Visiting Doi Suthep Temple

If you’re planning to visit Doi Suthep Temple, there are a few things you should know before you go. Here are some helpful tips to make your visit more enjoyable.

Dress Code and Footwear

When visiting Doi Suthep Temple, it’s important to dress appropriately. Visitors are asked to dress modestly and cover their shoulders and knees. Avoid wearing shorts, tank tops, and revealing clothing. If you’re not sure what to wear, it’s best to err on the side of caution and dress conservatively.

Comfortable footwear is also important, as there are many steps to climb to reach the temple. Wear shoes with good traction and support, as the steps can be slippery and uneven.

Hiking and Motorbike

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike up to Doi Suthep Temple on the Monk’s Trail. The trail is about 3 kilometers long and takes about 1.5 hours to complete. It’s a challenging hike, but the views are worth it.

Alternatively, you can rent a motorbike and drive up to the temple. The road is steep and winding, so be sure to drive carefully and follow the rules of the road.

Entrance Fee and Private Tour

There is an entrance fee to enter Doi Suthep Temple. The fee is 50 baht for foreigners and 20 baht for Thai nationals. The fee helps maintain the temple and its grounds.

If you want a more personalized experience, you can book a private tour of Doi Suthep Temple. A private tour allows you to explore the temple at your own pace and learn more about its history and significance. Prices vary depending on the tour operator and the length of the tour.

In summary, visiting Doi Suthep Temple requires appropriate dress and footwear, and there are options for hiking or driving up to the temple. There is an entrance fee, but private tours are available for a more personalized experience.

Other Attractions Nearby

In addition to the Doi Suthep temple, there are several other attractions that are worth visiting in the surrounding area. Here are a few options:

Doi Suthep-Pui National Park

The Doi Suthep-Pui National Park is a beautiful park that is located just a few kilometers from the temple. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, birds, and butterflies. Visitors can explore the park’s many hiking trails, which offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. There are also several waterfalls in the park that are worth checking out.

Chiang Mai Zoo and Gardens

The Chiang Mai Zoo and Gardens is a great place to visit if you’re traveling with kids. The zoo is home to a variety of animals, including tigers, elephants, and pandas. There is also a large aquarium and a reptile house. The gardens are a great place to relax and take a stroll. There are several different sections of the gardens, including a cactus garden and a butterfly garden.

Bhubing Palace

The Bhubing Palace is a beautiful palace that is located just outside of Chiang Mai. The palace was built in the 1960s and is the winter residence of the Thai royal family. Visitors can take a tour of the palace, which features beautiful gardens and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The palace is also home to several art galleries and museums.

Overall, there are plenty of attractions to explore in the area around the Doi Suthep temple. Whether you’re interested in hiking, wildlife, or just relaxing in beautiful gardens, there’s something for everyone.