Monday 3 November 2014

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Rajavoravihara, Chiang Mai

A visit to Chiang Mai is almost not complete without visiting Wat Phra That Doi Suthep or วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพ.
It is a  a Theravada Buddhist temple and is most often just referred to as Doi Suthep, although this is actually the name of the mountain it is located on.
We arranged for a tour with our airport taxi driver. We quickly checked into the hotel and off we went.

Doi Suthep Pagoda 

The main pagoda, probably the best known and most photographed part of the temple, completely covered in gold. It was bathing in sunlight when we visited

'Doi' means 'on top of the hill'. It's around 15km from downtown Chiang Mai including a fantastic drive up the Doi Suthep hill of almost 10km long with plenty of hair pin curves. Many people ride it on their bikes, I would love to run it!

Doi Suthep White Elephant

The white elephant

There are various legends about the founding of the temple, one involving a white elephant with a relic tied onto his back who climbed the mountain and died. The spot where the elephant died is where the temple has been build, going back to 1368 by King Nu Naone of the Lanna Kingdom .

Doi Suthep inside

A view inside the busy temple

The temple is a very sacred site to many Thai people and many Thai people and tourists alike flock to the temple grounds, especially during the weekends.
There's a 30.-THB entry for foreigners or 50.-THB if you want to use the tram system up the mountain. Otherwise it's up 309 steps.

Doi Suthep vieuw over Chiang Mai 

A great view over the city of Chiang Mai can be had

The view over the city of Chiang Mai is fantastic and going up the road to the temple there are a few scenic view points and inside the temple grounds it's one of the most popular and busiest spots
Doi Suthep white Buddha statue

White Buddha statue opposite the Tan Jan Vihara

Aspects of the Wat or temple draw from both Buddhism and Hinduism. There is a model of the Emerald Buddha and a statue of the Hindu God Ganesh

Doi Suthep Vihara

The 'Vihara' shrine

There are two levels at the temple, the first level your reached goes all around the second, higher level and hosts a museum, temple hall, a Buddhist book shop, a minimart and a coffee shop among others and the viewing area over the city.

Doi Suthep Mom at Tan Jan Vihara

A scary 'Mom' at the Tan Jan Vihara entrance

The second or top level has the pagoda as center point with many shrines around it and a copy of the Emerald Buddha statue on display as well. The original Emerald Buddha can be found at Wat Phra Keow in Bangkok nowadays.

Doi Suthep Buddhist amulets

No Thai temple is complete without it's fair share of Buddhist amulets. We also bought a few!

It was a great way to spend an afternoon around Chiang Mai and a beautiful Temple and I can confirm that is a 'must' see when in Chiang Mai.

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