On our last day in Chiang Mai we had a few hours to spare before our flight back to Bangkok so we decided to check out one of Chiang Mai's trademark temples, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Doi Suthep is a Theravada Buddhist temple and is located atop Doi Pu Hill, giving you a full, beautiful view of Chiang Mai city.
There are several legands surrounding the history & construction of Doi Suthep. It's thought to have been founded in 1383 and a road was added to get to the temple in 1935.
Walking up to the temple entrance, you'll find tons of tourist shops & booths. If you're looking for a bargain, shop there! We actually found things here to be way cheaper than in the markets in the city center. Things were supers cheap! Like 4 scarves for 100 baht and 5 elephant, embroidered wallets for 100 baht total. This was great for us to stock up on small gifts for coworkers before we headed back to Bangkok. There was also lots of tasty snacks to try.
These two were dressed up, trying to earn money. They oh so sneakily asked for money for taking pictures of them, after they let me take pictures of them.
They were both dressed as and I assume apart of the ban mong doi pui hmong hill tribe.
Interesting coconut batter pancake type things, sprinkled with sugar.
We loved this roasted corn in Thailand. It tastes like the sweet corn we have at home, roasted and sprinkled with salt. In China the corn on the cob sold on the streets is steamed and gummy in texture.
Once past the shops and food stands you approach the 309 step staircase leading to the gate of the temple. The steps are lined by water serpents. The water serpents are believed in Thailand to bring good luck and bridge the gap between the earth and the sky.
Once at the top you can purchase your admission ticket which is just 30 baht per adult.
Upon entering the main gates to the temple you can see the most famous views of Doi Suthep.
The temple has statues and idols that reflect Buddhism and Hinduism. It is a Buddhist temple but also hosts statues of Ganesh. Through out the temple there are also several statues raised for gods throughout Thailand.
Touching the famous bells in the temple that are touched by devout Buddhists and thought to bring good luck.
Everything was painted so ornately, with bright colors and gold.
This is one of the most famous sites in the temple. This depicts the white elephant by which the legend was the temples founding has revolved around. Supposedly the temple was built on the elephant's grave. To read about the legend and history of Doi Suthep read here.
As is customary in most Buddhist temples, shows are always taken off before entering.
I know this is such a blurry picture because of all the incense smoke but I thought it was so interesting that they were decked out in tiger and leopard print.
We learned that most Thai males choose to go through a monk training at some point in their life. Seeing young boys, adults and older men decked out in the bright orange shawls are common sights in Thailand.
Originally we weren't going to visit Doi Suthep but as the saying goes, "If you haven't tasted Khao Soi or seen the view from Doi Suthep, you haven't been to Chiang Mai." We figured since we had a few hours to kill & if we didn't see it we would not have "been to Chiang Mai", we'd go and see it. I'm happy we did, to say that we did. But besides for the great views, I wasn't too overly, impressed. That being said though, it is a very important place to local Thais and one of the most important temples in Thailand. After reading some of the history on the temple, that we didn't know while there, I can see why it's so intriguing to Buddhists' and why the Chiang Mai people are so proud to host it. With all of the legends surrounding it and blessings believed to be gained while visiting it, I can see how Thai people are eager to climb those 309 steps up to the entrance.
30 baht per adult