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Our friends from the USA made the long trek to visit us in Chiang Mai. We thought it would be a memorable experience to take them on a trip up the Doi Suthep mountain to the temple known as Wat Phra That Doi Suthep or Doi Suthep Temple.
Climbing Doi Suthep By Way of Motorbike
With the rainy season slowly beginning to move into Chiang Mai, the air has been able to clear itself of most of the dust that accumulated during the burning season. With that has come a clear skyline and a view of Chiang Mai’s famous Doi Suthep mountain on the west side of the city.
After squaring them away with a super sweet pink Honda Click motor scooter, we opted to test that bad boy out with the short, but very twisty ride up the picturesque Doi Suthep mountain.
Only a few vehicles were making the trek up the mountain as early evening approached, most of which were bicyclists who had waited for the hottest part of the day to pass to pursue the curvy climb.
As we guided our motorbikes around the bends and twists of the mountain road, we enjoyed the shade from the hugging trees and the gradually cooling air. About halfway up the mountainside we stopped at one of the overlook points to view the city from up high, a must see for any first time visitor.
Arriving at the Doi Suthep Temple
The four of us continued following the winding road until we reached the Doi Suthep Temple. It was quiet. Most shops had closed and covered up for the day, and many of the tourists were leaving as we were just beginning the climb of over 300 steps to the 630 year old temple occupying the top of Doi Suthep.
FUN FACT: The reason the temple is called Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and not simply Wat Doi Suthep is because Phra That means that the temple contains a Buddha relic. In fact, any temple in the world with a Buddha relic can proudly have this in its title.
We stopped a few times on the way to the top to snap a few pictures. The greenery lining the stairs was speckled with large red flowers. The railings on either side of the steps were sculpted into the bodies of a snakelike dragons with raised green and yellow scales.
Although it was a long steep climb, it was well worth it once we reached the top. The temple grounds were stunning. The dark swirling sky over the gold temple domes made for a beautiful sight. With almost no one else at the temple, it felt remarkably peaceful and serene. This being our second trip to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, we recommend visiting a bit later in the day to avoid the crowds of tourists.
As we quietly strolled around the grounds we admired the fine details that make this temple such an important place to Thai people living in Chiang Mai and the rest of Thailand. There are large bells lining both sides of the main temple that are there to bring good luck to those that ring them.
The grounds are also decorated with well manicured gardens and small shrines that add to its beauty. We didn’t understand the meaning some of the individual pieces in the gardens, but they were eye-catching nonetheless. Each item added a subtle touch that allowed us to use our imaginations a bit during our visit.
We left the temple as the wind started picking up and the darker clouds rolled in. Although it did not end up raining that particular evening, we are cautious of these signs given some of the unpredictable storms we have been caught in since living here. Coming down the mountain at dusk as the city lights started blinking was a beautiful sight to see.
We will definitely be sure to visit Doi Suthep and it’s temple when we need a short break from it all. We recommend that everyone pay a visit if ever they find themselves in the beautiful Thai province of Chiang Mai.