Doi Suthep - Best place in Chiang Mai to explore Thai Temple, Aerial views of the City and some Hiking

This is a Buddhist temple on the hills, and is pretty much like all other Wats. But to reach it, you need to climb up >200 stairs and the terrace offers an excellent view of the Chiang Mai city. You can also see the entire airstrip and watch planes take off and land. It is a good place to spend a couple of hours.

This is a Buddhist temple on the hills, and is pretty much like all other Wats. But to reach it, you need to climb up >200 stairs and the terrace offers an excellent view of the Chiang Mai city. You can also see the entire airstrip and watch planes take off and land. It is a good place to spend a couple of hours. 


Above is the photograph that you must have seen multiple times while planning a trip to Chiang Mai in Thailand. This is a very popular temple because of multiple reasons. Thailand cities are full of temples but this one in Chiang mai is very special. If you can visit only one temple in Chiang Mai, that should be Doi Suthep. That's not only because it's huge and interesting architecture, but it offers very diverse experience.

Above is the photograph that you must have seen multiple times while planning a trip to Chiang Mai in Thailand. This is a very popular temple because of multiple reasons. Thailand cities are full of temples but this one in Chiang mai is very special. If you can visit only one temple in Chiang Mai, that should be Doi Suthep. That's not only because it's huge and interesting architecture, but it offers very diverse experience. 

Related post - Top 10 things to do & Travel Hacks for Chiang Mai City of Thailand    Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is named after the mountain where this temple is situated. Doi means Mountain in Thai. This temple is very important place for Thia people and situated approximately 15 km from Chiang Mai City in North Thailand.

Related post - Top 10 things to do & Travel Hacks for Chiang Mai City of Thailand

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is named after the mountain where this temple is situated. Doi means Mountain in Thai. This temple is very important place for Thia people and situated approximately 15 km from Chiang Mai City in North Thailand. 

How to reach Doi Suthep from Chiang Mai City ?    Rent a bike : This is one of the best options to explore Thailand cities. Rent a bike and feel free to explore places around the city. It saves lot of your time, money and offers you freedom. Just be aware that at times there are chances of getting into scam when owner may claim more money when you return the bike.   Songthaew : The linked blog shares very good information how to use Songthaew like a local and reach places while saving money in Chiang Mai. They can be found almost everywhere in Chiang Mai City.

How to reach Doi Suthep from Chiang Mai City ?

Rent a bike : This is one of the best options to explore Thailand cities. Rent a bike and feel free to explore places around the city. It saves lot of your time, money and offers you freedom. Just be aware that at times there are chances of getting into scam when owner may claim more money when you return the bike. 

Songthaew : The linked blog shares very good information how to use Songthaew like a local and reach places while saving money in Chiang Mai. They can be found almost everywhere in Chiang Mai City. 

App based taxi Grab : It's like uber in Thailand and works well. There can language challenges at times but works decently. 

Take a MiniVan Half Day tour : There are half day tours wherein you can take guided tour of Doi Suthep along with a walk around a Tribal village or Royal Palace. This usually costs around 450-500 bahts. 

As you get down from your vehicle, you would need to climb up the Suthep mountain. As earlier mentioned, the name of the temple is on the mountain where it resides. There are well designed stairs till the main gate of the temple and it's usually very crowded. That's not only because of tourists but lot of locals come here for religious reasons. It was amazing to see faith of Thai people in these temples and it's interesting to observe them doing some rituals in temples, which are not so usual in other parts of the world, except few neighbouring countries like Cambodia.

As you get down from your vehicle, you would need to climb up the Suthep mountain. As earlier mentioned, the name of the temple is on the mountain where it resides. There are well designed stairs till the main gate of the temple and it's usually very crowded. That's not only because of tourists but lot of locals come here for religious reasons. It was amazing to see faith of Thai people in these temples and it's interesting to observe them doing some rituals in temples, which are not so usual in other parts of the world, except few neighbouring countries like Cambodia

There is entry ticket for the temple and it's only for foreigner tourists and which makes lot of sense. For locals, you can't charge for faith although in current time there are enough examples where it happens directly or indirectly.     Entry ticket for the temple is 15 Bahts.    Related Post - Bhubing Palace or Hmong Tribal village - Which one to pick for exploration along with Doi Suthep

There is entry ticket for the temple and it's only for foreigner tourists and which makes lot of sense. For locals, you can't charge for faith although in current time there are enough examples where it happens directly or indirectly. 

Entry ticket for the temple is 15 Bahts.


Close to the main temple there is a deck from where you can have brilliant views of Chiang Mai City. Above photograph shows the same. Such are special reasons which makes Doi Suthep a special choice in Chiang Mai. Chiang mai has hundreds of temples but location of Doi Suthep at this height makes it special.     Related post : 10 Days Vacation in Thailand - How we arrived on our itinerary


Close to the main temple there is a deck from where you can have brilliant views of Chiang Mai City. Above photograph shows the same. Such are special reasons which makes Doi Suthep a special choice in Chiang Mai. Chiang mai has hundreds of temples but location of Doi Suthep at this height makes it special. 


When we were there, Doi Suthep was crowded. Apparently this is also the season when a lot of local Thai Tourists visit the temple. So it was difficult to click pictures and we had to wait a lot to get a frame without another human being photo-bombing it.

When we were there, Doi Suthep was crowded. Apparently this is also the season when a lot of local Thai Tourists visit the temple. So it was difficult to click pictures and we had to wait a lot to get a frame without another human being photo-bombing it.

When at Doi Suthep, you can also enjoy a rope-way ride for 35 bahts, which is pretty cheap. We didn't find it so exciting and neither there was a a need as it's not that high mountain to hike & descend.     Related post - Chiang Mai Weekend Market and Various Wats || 10-Day Vacation in Thailand

When at Doi Suthep, you can also enjoy a rope-way ride for 35 bahts, which is pretty cheap. We didn't find it so exciting and neither there was a a need as it's not that high mountain to hike & descend. 

Related post - Chiang Mai Weekend Market and Various Wats || 10-Day Vacation in Thailand 

While coming down from the temple we took another walk and there were these huge statues installed. To get a sense of the size compare the size of flower-pots, this statue and the trees behind it. Apart from above one, there was also another statue of Budhha. These walks through forest make the experience even better. If you have time, I would recommend walking around by getting a little away from main area you see lot of vehicle and people.

While coming down from the temple we took another walk and there were these huge statues installed. To get a sense of the size compare the size of flower-pots, this statue and the trees behind it. Apart from above one, there was also another statue of Budhha. These walks through forest make the experience even better. If you have time, I would recommend walking around by getting a little away from main area you see lot of vehicle and people. 

Some of the walking/running enthusiast chose to come here by walking or running from the Chiang Mai city because the whole stretch is surrounded by green forests and magnificent views.     Related post - Temple on the Hill, Tribe in the forest, and more in Chiang Mai || 10-Day Vacation in Thailand

Some of the walking/running enthusiast chose to come here by walking or running from the Chiang Mai city because the whole stretch is surrounded by green forests and magnificent views. 

Related post - Temple on the Hill, Tribe in the forest, and more in Chiang Mai || 10-Day Vacation in Thailand 

There is huge space around the main temple. Above photograph shows the circular space around the main temple of Doi Suthep and this section has various statues of Budhhas of various sizes, flower gardens, seating areas and enough to walk around & explore surrounding landscapes.

There is huge space around the main temple. Above photograph shows the circular space around the main temple of Doi Suthep and this section has various statues of Budhhas of various sizes, flower gardens, seating areas and enough to walk around & explore surrounding landscapes. 

According to a legend, a monk named Sumanathera from the Sukhothai Kingdom had a dream in which he was told to go to Pang Cha and look for a relic. Sumanathera ventured to Pang Cha and found a bone. Many claim it was Gautama Buddha's shoulder bone. The relic displayed magical powers: it glowed, it was able to vanish, it could move and replicate itself. Sumanathera took the relic to King Dhammaraja, who ruled Sukhothai. The eager Dhammaraja made offerings and hosted a ceremony when Sumanathera arrived. However, the relic displayed no abnormal characteristics, and the king, doubtful of the relic's authenticity, told Sumanathera to keep it.

According to a legend, a monk named Sumanathera from the Sukhothai Kingdom had a dream in which he was told to go to Pang Cha and look for a relic. Sumanathera ventured to Pang Cha and found a bone. Many claim it was Gautama Buddha's shoulder bone. The relic displayed magical powers: it glowed, it was able to vanish, it could move and replicate itself. Sumanathera took the relic to King Dhammaraja, who ruled Sukhothai. The eager Dhammaraja made offerings and hosted a ceremony when Sumanathera arrived. However, the relic displayed no abnormal characteristics, and the king, doubtful of the relic's authenticity, told Sumanathera to keep it.


King Nu Naone of Lan Na heard of the relic and bade the monk to bring it to him. In 1368, with Dharmmaraja's permission, Sumanathera took the relic to what is now Lamphun, in northern Thailand. Once there, the relic broke into two pieces. The smaller piece was enshrined at Wat Suan Dok. The other piece was placed by the king on the back of a white elephant which was released into the jungle. The elephant is said to have climbed up Doi Suthep, at that time called Doi Aoy Chang (Sugar Elephant Mountain), stopped, trumpeted three times, then dropped dead. 

The name of the Temple (Wat Phra That Doi Suthep) actually explains what the temple has. Phra entails of an honorific Buddha image, and That means a relic. Combining the two tells that there is a relic of Buddha's in the sanctity of the Wat, and in this case it's half of Buddha's shoulder bone. The location of the shoulder bone relic is to be found in the rounded portion of the Chedi right above the octagonal redented section and below the ringed section.


Above photograph shows the road connecting Doi Suthep with Chiang Mai and this section is very close to the entry gate of Doi Suthep. All vans and cabs pick tourists from this place & thats the reason that you see so many vehicles parked around the road and tourists waiting around one end of the road.

Above photograph shows the road connecting Doi Suthep with Chiang Mai and this section is very close to the entry gate of Doi Suthep. All vans and cabs pick tourists from this place & thats the reason that you see so many vehicles parked around the road and tourists waiting around one end of the road. 

As I shared earlier, if you have only one day in Chiang Mai and you want to explore the place, I strongly recommend Doi Suthep because it offers plenty of things at one place - Architecture, culture, religion, hike, nature and some amazing landscapes.     If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling -   1. Manage your waste well and don’t litter Use dustbins. 2. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin.  3. Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem.  4. Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.  5. Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite

As I shared earlier, if you have only one day in Chiang Mai and you want to explore the place, I strongly recommend Doi Suthep because it offers plenty of things at one place - Architecture, culture, religion, hike, nature and some amazing landscapes. 

If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling - 

1. Manage your waste well and don’t litter Use dustbins.
2. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin. 
3. Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem. 
4. Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits. 
5. Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite

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