Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – Tips For Your Day Trip From Chiang Mai
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – What is it?
If you come to Chiang Mai you will hear a lot of people talk about Doi Suthep. Most of them are talking about the Buddhist temple, namely Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, in which the last two words describe the mountain area itself. From Chiang Mai, it is only 15 kilometers to the holy grounds, where you get a live experience of the culture and simultaneously enjoy a fascinating view of the valley. All around is the national park Suthep-Pui with an area of 261 km2 and four waterfalls.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – How do I get there?
There are several ways to reach Doi Suthep:
- With a public Songthaew: From different areas in Old Town, i.e. the North Gate or the university and the zoo, you can get one of the famous Red Cars to take you up to Doi Suthep. The cost varies depending on where you get in. From the zoo, I paid 80 Baht for a return ticket. The downside was, that I was dependant on this specific Songthaew then and couldn’t stay there as long as I wanted. If you want to stay longer or only really short, I suggest a different option.
- With a rented Songthaew: If you know people that would love to join your trip to the temple, you can rent a Songthaew. Prices depend on the number of people in your group and normally are about 100 Baht per person. The advantage is, that you can stop at any point of interest on the way, such as small temples or nice viewpoints.
- By Grab: The Grab ride will probably be around 400 Baht. However, it offers the most flexibility and you also have a local driver right next to you. Most of them speak English quite well and are more than happy to tell you about their country and its people. My advice: If you get to know a very friendly driver ask him for his number or business cards. These kind of contacts are worth a lot and can improve any day trip!
- By rented scooter: Most digital nomads rent a scooter as soon they get to SEA. Of course, you can get to Doi Suthep by scooter. But be careful, as the road is steep and has a lot of slopes.
- By foot: Personally speaking, I’m not a big fan of hikes. Therefore, I did not do the trail to Doi Suthep. However, it is said to be very beautiful and worth the effort. Especially the last part is supposed to be very steep and tiring. Please don’t forget to bring sunscreen and enough water.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – When is the best time?
There are two times a day that I can wholeheartedly recommend:
- After sunrise: When the monks start praying and the tourists are still sleeping, it’s the perfect time to explore the temple and take some marvelous pictures. At that time, the atmosphere is extraordinary.
- Before sunset: The sun is setting on your right if you’re on the panorama terrace of the temple and looking down on Chiang Mai. The view is breathtaking and the monks are praying at sunset as well. However, there are still a lot of tourists around so you have to share this magic moment with them.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – What is there to see?
For me personally, the view is the highlight of the temple. Especially at dusk, I couldn’t take my eyes of the sun disappearing behind the mountain range and I could have spent hours watching it.
The Naga Stairs
The Clock Tower
The Statue Of The White Elephant
The Golden Chedi
I’ve been to Doi Suthep twice to visit the temple. And I would love to go there at least two more times. Once for the praying monks after sunrise and once more to do the hike. It is definitely possible to combine these two but I would rather split it into two separate occasions. I love being up in the mountain, even if Chiang Mai has similarly beautiful temples right in its center – and with free entry. To experience Wat Phra That Doi Suthep you have to pay 40 Baht (if you are not a local, who can get in for free of course). Anyway, this is not an unreasonable price and I think it is a must-do in Chiang Mai, to go up to the temple at least once.
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