Doi Suthep Temple – the Most Sacred Place in Chiang Mai

Situated at the top of a hill at 1,000 meters above sea level in the mountain mass of Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is one of the most important temples in northern Thailand. From the parking, visitors can reach the hilltop via either a funicular railway or a 306-step naga staircase (we took the funicular up and walked the stairs down). Once up, it’s not only the temple that impresses; the city view of Chiang Mai is magnificent! The original founding of the temple remains a legend but is believed to have been founded in 1383.

The terrace at the top of the staircase before entering the courtyard.

The courtyard with the golden pagoda in the center. It was such a beautiful day making the pagoda gleam even more.

The golden pagoda is said to contain a relic from Buddha, and the umbrellas — one at each (four) corner of the pagoda — are marking the city’s independence from Burma and its union with Thailand.

Lanna-style architecture and Buddha statues surrounding the pagoda.

Elephant tusks among Buddha statues and a golden monk.

Wifey doing some praying.

The famous monk Kruba Srivichai who was the leader of the construction of the road up to the temple in 1935. Thousands of volunteers, each of them ordered to only construct 10 feet, completed the 11 km long road in 5 months and 25 days.

A golden reclining Buddha, representing Buddha during his last moments and entry into Nirvana.

A green glass Buddha statue.

Thai people praying in front of Buddha statues.

A good luck bell with our names written on it. These bells are hanging all over the place and cost 200 baht each (if I don’t remember wrong).

It’s such a beautiful place, and you can see how important this temple is for Thai people. I have visited many temples in Thailand, and Doi Suthep is definitely one of my favorites. A must-see in Chiang Mai.

Unfortunately, it was burning season (we were here in March), and because of the hazy sky, we couldn’t see the mountainous horizon from the viewpoint. The farmers need to stop this tradition!

View from the top of the naga staircase (the longest in Thailand) and time to walk down the 306 steps.

At the bottom of the staircase, we saw these two girls wearing traditional Hmong clothes. They expect a coin if you take pictures of them.

I have to include a selfie in front of the seven-headed naga that guards the temple.

The funicular railway next to the naga staircase is open daily from 6:00 am – 6:00 pm and cost 20 baht for Thais and 50 baht for foreigners. You’ll also find a couple of small restaurants and souvenirs shops down here.

Hmong Village Doi Suthep

You can drive up to the temple yourself with either a car or a scooter. We, however, drove to the base of the mountain, parked the car and let a private songthaew (“red car”) drive us up via several attractions like the Hmong hill tribe village with beautiful flowers, and the Bhubing Palace. The driver waited by the car at each stop and let us do our thing, something he wouldn’t mind since we paid 1,500 baht. The picture above shows the Hmong village at 1,300 meters above sea level.

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