The Winding Road to Wat Pra That Doi Suthep

Blasphemous comment: Thai temples start to merge into one for me. I’m a jerk, I know, but when there are over 300 Wats (temples) in Chiang Mai, you might begin to understand my dilemma. The one temple that I will forever recognize as unique is Wat Pra That Doi Suthep.

Happy Monk!

Part of the reason it will continue to be memorable is in how you get there. North of the Old City you will find a line of “songathews”, red taxis with two benches along the back. No seatbelts, open air, delightful. They have a set rate to take tourists to Doi Suthep, but the more people you have, the cheaper it is. Ideally you’re waiting for a group of ten people to go up and down the mountain. If you have ten people, you’re looking at 50 baht up and 50 baht down. Maybe you can negotiate with them on the cost… but we’re a bit too early in our adventure to feel ready for bargaining. Green tourists for sure. In then end after waiting twenty minutes, there were only three of us, so we agreed to pay the cost of 300 baht each for a return journey ($10 CAD). Considering it’s a 30-40 minute trip each way, I wasn’t too fussed about the cost.

From the back of a songathew

From the back of a songathew

 

Warning: if you get motion sickness, I strongly advise that you take Gravol for the journey. The roads are tight and winding, and these taxi drivers book it.

Arriving at Doi Suthep we made our way up the infamous dragon staircase. I adore the tile work done of the stairs, and it never ceases to amaze me how Thai temples are full of intricate details. Try not to rush the experience. Stop and take in the many hidden beauties. As we ascended the staircase, there was a group of traditionally dressed little girls urging you to take your picture with them – for a fee. I couldn’t believe how much the girls threw themselves into their job, sitting on the laps of strangers and kissing them on the cheek for a photo. Needless to say, I passed on a photo op.

Dragon Staircase

Dragon Staircase

 

After paying the foreigner entrance fee of 30 Baht per person, we entered the temple (without shoes) and our jaws dropped. I get that a blog post is – in theory – about words, but I can’t even figure out how to describe the temple. So here are some photos.

Temple Bells

Temple Bells

 

Doi Suthep Chedi

Doi Suthep Chedi

Door Print - Wat Pra That Doi Suthep

Door Print – Wat Pra That Doi Suthep

Prayer Flowers

Prayer Flowers

Wat Pra That Doi Suthep

Wat Pra That Doi Suthep

You can feel the peace and calm at the temple. Even if I couldn’t understand that meaning behind the chants from the monks, or from the visitors holding their flowers and circling the chedi (Buddhist stupa), I could understand the sentiment behind it. While the Wats in Chiang Mai had some peace from the bustling road, Wat Pra That Doi Suthep, nestled high in the mountains, has an inherent quiet that I greatly appreciated.

Following our visit to Doi Suthep, we made a quick trip further up the mountain to the Grand Palace. On our trip, the palace was closed for construction, so we essentially just saw the gardens. In my humble opinion, it was not worth the 50 Baht per person in comparison with the awe-inspiring Doi Suthep, but if you like a good garden, fill your boots.

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2 Responses to The Winding Road to Wat Pra That Doi Suthep

  1. Irma J-M November 3, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    Hi Victoria! Thanks for sharing your journey and those gorgeous photos! I find the most challenging aspect of travel after about 2 weeks is avoiding cultural saturation! Hopefully you can take a beach break and return to the sites with fresh eyes. Safe Travels!

    • admin November 4, 2014 at 7:39 am #

      Thanks Irma. Yeah, the jet lag has kicked in now and we’re waning in the afternoons – temple’d out! That said, we have some cool things lined up for the rest of the week. A Cat Cafe (tee hee!), a lady boy show and the show-stopping Loy Krathong (at least I’m hoping it’s a show-stopper!).

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