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Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

March 24th, 2009 by

Wat Phrathat Doi SuthepThailand is such an exotic country that it seems that it is quite impossible to run out of amazing places to explore and adventures to try.  Undeniably, one of the favorite Thailand provinces that tourists frequent is Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai, which is also written as “Chiengmai,” can be found in Northern Thailand and is the capital city of the Chiang Mai Province.  From Bangkok, one would have to travel about 700 kilometers towards north and come face to  face with towering mountains in order to reach Chiang Mai. Tourists, who feel that they would like other places to visit aside from Bangkok, can easily catch a domestic flight to Chiang Mai.

Now, any trip to Chiang Mai will never be complete without a visit to the famous Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep as it is the most important religious destination in this city.  Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, a Buddhist temple, is located about 1676 meters above sea level and about 15 kilometers from the main city of Chiang Mai.  This temple is also called Doi Suthep mainly because this is the name of the very mountain where the temple can be found.

The history of this temple is quite colorful.  King Geu Na asked that a relic of the holy Buddha be placed on the back of a sacred white elephant.  The elephant was allowed to roam around.  After some time, the elephant circled an area near the summit of Doi Suthep then it trumpeted, lied on the ground and eventually died.  The King, in 1383, then prearranged that a golden chedi be built on the exact spot where the sacred white elephant took its last breath.  Through the years, the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep has undergone several renovations and expanded with the addition of more sacred shrines to make the temple grounds look more grandiose.  But it was only in 1935 when better roads were built to make the temple more accessible to devotees. Visitors of the temple will still get to see a monument of the white elephant upon reaching the top of the Naga staircase.

Three Hundred Plus Steps to Doi Suthep

It is quite easy to get to the base of the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep as there quite a number of available public modes of transportation to take most especially that this temple is a major tourist attraction.  Tourists can take a red taxi, which is locally called songthew, or another option would be the tuktuks.  There was a time when taxis and tuktuks are only allowed until the base of the temple and I am not sure if this is still the case.

Another exciting experience here is that when one reaches the base of the temple the next part would be climbing more than three hundred steps up in a steep Naga staircase.  People who do not find this idea in the least inviting or those who are physically not fit to go through this can choose to take the tram cars going up to temple and these same tram cars can take visitors back to the base.

Somehow, all the tiredness that you will feel from climbing hundreds of steps will seem to melt away once you feel the refreshingly cool air at the top of the temple.  Plus the fantastic view of the city from this altitude can make anyone’s jaw drop in pure amazement.  Remember to take souvenir photos at the viewpoint area where the city of Chiang Mai and the Ping Valley can be seen above heavily forested mountain ranges.

Golden Chedi

In addition to this great view, visitors can also take time to admire the pagoda which houses holy Buddha relics. These relics are so sacred that annual pilgrimages to the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep are organized by Buddhists from different parts of the world.  The Golden Chedi would also have to be most photographed part at the Doi Suthep because it is gold plated and proudly stands at a height of 79 feet and has a base measuring 39 feet.  This section is also considered the most holy area in the entire temple grounds.

Within the area of the temple pavilions, one can find the resting area and school for monks.  Those who will be undergoing rigid training and will study the holy teachings of Buddha are sent here as well.  A short walking distance from the monk’s living quarters, one will find small bells that are lined side by side.  According to locals, anyone who will ring the bells here will have good luck.  There is also a museum where one can view olden relics and photos. Of course, any tourist destination will not be complete without some snack stops and souvenir shops.

It is also important to remember that since this temple is considered holy ground, certain dress codes have to be observed by visitors as a sign of respect.  Ideal attire would be long dresses or long pants but visitors who are not dressed properly can borrow some robes at the temple to use as temporary covering.  Visitors must also take off all kinds of footwear before entering stepping on temple grounds.

From your hotel in Chiang Mai like the Amari Angkhang Nature Resort Chiang Mai, you can easily take the trip to Doi Suthep.  After all, you have not seen Chiang Mai until you have seen this magnificent Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep.

7 Responses to “Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep”

  1. herbie Says:

    Great article!!! Would like to go back and explore more of Thailand’s culture.

  2. Kylie Says:

    Wat pharathat doi suthep was great – but after we were in Thailand we made our way to Japan to visit friends in Okinawa and it was awesome!!!

  3. Beatrice Says:

    a temple at the top of the mountains????? this is another place that i need to visit for sure. thanks kitci :D

  4. Ikai Says:

    I think Catholics should also be strict in observing proper dress codes when visiting sacred places of worship, don’t you think?

  5. Gennaro Says:

    Beautiful temples. Thailand has some of the nicest ones in the world. Loved visting the country.

  6. Kitci Wong Says:

    Hi Gennaro! Yup, there are a lot of breathtaking temples in Thailand. Thanks so much for leaving a comment :)

  7. Kitci Wong Says:

    Hello Kylie! It looks like you are doing a lot of traveling… That’s great! Hope you keep on visiting.. I would love to hear about your travel adventures as well. Take care :)

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