Wat Phra That Doi Suthep the holiest shrine in northern Thailand

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For the local people, if you come to Chiang Mai but don’t go to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep then you haven’t yet been to Chiang Mai.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep or Doi Suthep Temple is the most famous and important temple in Chiang Mai every visitor must pay a visit. Doi Suthep Temple was founded in 1386 under miraculous circumstances. When the first chedi was built. It is an important pilgrimage spot. There are spectacular views of Chiang Mai city and its surroundings from the top of this mountain. It in the area of Doi Suthep – Pui National Park on the western outskirts of Chiang Mai. The holy temple is said to house a relic bone of the Buddha from a monk that came up from Sukothai. The legend has it that one of the bones was mounted on a sacred white elephant that died in the jungle and is now the site of where Doi Suthep is founded.

What to See at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

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To get to the top where the temple sits, you have to climb the 306 step staircase that is flanked by these large multi-colored glass Naga serpents or by the cable car for 20 THB.

 wat phra that doi suthep, doi suthep temple, sight in chiang mai, wat phra that doi suthep sight in chiang mai
At the bottom of the stairs, you will find several souvenir shops with rather eager saleswomen, as well as some hill tribe children in traditional garb who charge for photos of them.

The temple is split into outdie and inner terraces. To enter the inner terrace where a dazzling gold chedi is housed, you must remove your shoes and be modestly dressed, covering shoulders and knees, wraps are provided if needed.

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wat phra that doi suthep, doi suthep temple, sight in chiang mai, wat phra that doi suthep sight in chiang mai

Steps lead up to the inner terrace, where a walkway circumnavigates the gleaming golden Chedi enshrining the relic. To enter the inner terrace and temple grounds you climb some small steps and go in a circular walk around the golden Chedi (pagoda). Along the Chedi, pilgrims lay lotus blossoms as offerings around the shrines facing the Chedi.

Surrounding the circular walk around the Chedi in the inner temple are a variety of Buddha statues with different poses. Made of various materials semi precious stones, the buddhas are grouped into stunning displays filled with texture, color and sizes.

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The outside terrace was decorated beautifully with gardens, bells, and statues.  There are smaller dwellings outside with beautiful shrines and Buddha statues inside them.  These rooms usually are occupied with those giving offerings and praying. To the right side of the main temple compound is a large viewing area with magnificent views of Chiang Mai below.

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wat phra that doi suthep, doi suthep temple, sight in chiang mai, wat phra that doi suthep sight in chiang mai

After praying the Phra That for good lucks, To the right side of the main temple don’t forget to proceed to the terrace to soak up panoramic views of Chiang Mai town and surrounding countrysides. The temple is best visited on days free of cloud or heat haze; the view of the city, and the Ping valley beyond, is breathtaking.

 wat phra that doi suthep, doi suthep temple, sight in chiang mai, wat phra that doi suthep sight in chiang mai

Lastly, there is a souvenir shop and a small shops for drinks and snacks. When visiting this sacred place, dress appropriately.

Opening hours: 5:00 am. to 8:00 pm.

Entrance: to the temple costs 30 THB per person.

Doi Suthep Vipassana meditation center

The Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple houses a meditation center where both Thai people and foreigners can learn and practice meditation. For more information about meditation and a list of retreats and temples in Thailand that teach Vipassana or Samatha meditation, read meditation retreats in Thailand.

Shops and Restaurants in Doi Suthep

There are a large number of shops and small restaurants scattered around throughout the park, especially near Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, and there are a few options for those who wish to stay overnight. Most of the accommodation consists of small huts and rudimentary bungalows, however, and most of the park’s highlights can be easily seen in a day.

wat phra that doi suthep, doi suthep temple, sight in chiang mai, wat phra that doi suthep sight in chiang mai
wat phra that doi suthep, doi suthep temple, sight in chiang mai, wat phra that doi suthep sight in chiang mai

How To Get To Wat Doi Suthep

There are several ways to get from Chiang Mai city to the mountaintop temple of Wat Phra That