Must-See in Chiang Mai
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Located 15km from Chiang Mai city on Doi Suthep (Suthep Mountain), this Wat (temple) is northern Thailand’s holiest temple. A half-day trip to this beautiful temple should not be missed by anyone who has travelled to Chiang Mai. At 3520 feet above sea level, you get a magnificient view of Chiang Mai and the surrounding countryside on a clear day. Best to visit in the early morning or late afternoon.
Dating from 1383, legend says that a white elephant was selected to carry a sacred relic of Lord Buddha to its proper place. This elephant climbed Doi Suthep and stopped at this place, where a chedi (stupa) was built to house the relic. Having fulfilled its duty, the white elephant then died. You can see a statue of this elephant on the temple grounds.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is north Thailand’s most important place of pilgrimage, attracting not only Thais, but also believers from other South East Asian countries. You can usually see people walking around the central chedi in a clockwise direction praying.
To get here, you can take a songthaew from the corner of Manee Noparat and Chotana roads. Or you can rent a motorcycle and enjoy the views while riding up the mountain. Some portions of the road can be quite steep and twisty, but can be easily navigated.
At the start of the way up Doi Suthep, there is a monument of Khru Ba Siwichai, the monk who led the efforts to build the paved road from here to the temple.
Further up from the temple, you can also visit Phuping Palace. This is the Royal winter residence, built in 1961. The lavishly landscaped gardens and grounds are open to the public daily from 08.30 to 16.30, except when the Royal Family is in residence.