Doi Suthep, a prominent mountain located 15 kilometers west of Chiang Mai, Thailand, boasts an elevation of 1,676 meters, making it a striking natural landmark in the region. Part of a granite mountain range, Doi Suthep is accompanied by its slightly taller counterpart, Doi Pui, which together create a picturesque backdrop to the city. Doi Suthep is home to the revered Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple, a significant Buddhist pilgrimage site offering panoramic views of Chiang Mai, as well as lush hiking trails, waterfalls, and diverse flora and fauna that attract thousands of visitors annually.
It is impossible to visit Chiang Mai without seeing Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the most important sacred place in Chiang Mai, especially the golden Chiang Saen-style pagoda that people in Chiang Mai revered Phra That Doi Suthep from ancient times.
According to Doi Suthep’s history, this mountain was originally the residence of a hermit named Suthewa, which corresponds to the word Suthep, which is the origin of the name of this high mountain.
Constructed in the early 1800s under the rule of King Kue Na Thammikarat, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep was established by the 6th King of Chiang Mai from the Lanna Kingdom’s Mangrai Dynasty. This sacred site houses the relics of Lord Buddha, which were transported from the city of Si Satchanalai. The temple can be found on Si Wichai Road, within the Suthep subdistrict of Mueang Chiang Mai district in Chiang Mai province.
According to mythology, Phra Chao Kue Na Thammikarat divided the relics into two parts. The first one was kept at Phra That Wat Suan Dok, and the other was carried up on the back of the holy elephant. Phra Chao Kue Na Thammikarat prey that wherever the herd of elephants stops, Phra That will be erected there.
As a result, those elephants stopped at the top of Doi Suthep before all of them did three rounds of Thaksinawat (Walking in a clockwise direction) and died there. After that, King Kue Na Thammikarat ordered the construction of a relic at the top of Doi Suthep, where the Lord Buddha’s remains have been enshrined in Chiang Mai ever since.
Phra That Doi Suthep is 689 meters above the plains of Chiang Mai and 1,046 meters above sea level. In the past, it was tough for those people who would like to make worship at Phra That Doi Suthep such that they must walk on foot to the top of Phra That Doi Suthep.
In 1557, Phra Maha Yan Mongkhon Pho of Asokaram Temple in Lamphun built a staircase on both sides of the royal naga to make it easier for those people who would like to make worship. Up to the reign of Kruba Sriwichai, he ordered the construction of a long road that runs from the Chiang Mai Zoo past Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and ends at Bhubing Palace. This new route is 11.53 kilometers long, making travel considerably more convenient for people who want to go to Phra That Doi Suthep.
There are two options for travelling to worship.
Take the Seven-Headed Naga Staircase, which contains 306 steps that take around 5-10 minutes to walk up. This Naga staircase is another favorite tourist photographic location.
Another option, if you don’t want to climb stairs, is to use an electric elevator. The roundtrip ticket costs 20 baht (for Thai) and 50 baht (for foreigners). Open from 06.00 to 18.00.
This temple’s antiquities include a Chiang Saen-style chedi with a high base and an octagonal bell recess built in the form of Lanna art. It is covered with two layers of Thong Changko (A Brass metal thin sheet), which contains Lord Buddha’s relics underground.
According to the practice of building antiques in the past, it was popular to bury the Buddha’s relics underground to serve as a pillar of Chiang Mai. It is said that if you come to worship and pray for blessings on Phra That Doi Suthep, you will be blessed with success, fulfilment, and the ability to conquer various challenges.
The tradition of walking up to Doi Suthep to revere Saparami is held to honor Phra That Doi Suthep. A water procession for pouring the relics will take place one night before Visakha Bucha Day, in which monks, novices, and Buddhists from various communities participating in this tradition to walk for 11 kilometers to the mountain.
To worship Phra That, the popped rice, flowers, joss sticks, and candles shall be prepared before walking three rounds to the right, saying the praised words during worshipping, and making a wish by paying tribute to the relics in all four directions, which give various virtues. For example, on the north side, you can wish to be wise like the Full moon (Representative of cleverness in Thai belief). In the south, you can wish to become a monk and be ordained in Buddhism. On the east side, you can wish to live in heaven when you are passed away, and the west side is the most revered location for relic worship. The activity you should not miss when travelling to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is to worship at the Kruba Si Wichai Monument, the Lanna saint enshrined at the foot of Doi Suthep for prosperity purposes.
Sure, Doi Suthep is definitely worth a visit. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chiang Mai and offers stunning views of the city and surrounding countryside. The temple complex at the top of the mountain is also a must-see, and the hike up the mountain is a great way to get some exercise and take in the beautiful scenery.
Yeap, it is possible to cycle to Doi Suthep. However, it is a long and strenuous ride, and the roads can be quite steep and winding. It is recommended that you are an experienced cyclist and have the necessary equipment and supplies for the journey.
Yes, there is an entrance fee to Doi Suthep. The fee is 50 baht for adults and 25 baht for children. If you go up on the elevator, then it will cost an additional 20 baht per person.
Doi Suthep is located approximately 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from the city center of Chiang Mai.
The amount of time you spend at Doi Suthep will depend on your interests and how much time you have available. Generally, it is recommended to spend at least a few hours exploring the temple complex and taking in the views from the top of the mountain. If you have more time, you can also explore the surrounding area and take a hike up the mountain.
There are 309 steps leading up to the temple complex at Doi Suthep by stair.
The cost of a songtheaw (a shared taxi) to Doi Suthep from the city center of Chiang Mai is typically around 50-60 baht per person. The private cab will cost around 400 Thai baht.
You can take a bus to Doi Suthep from the Arcade Bus Station in Chiang Mai. The bus ride takes approximately 45 minutes and costs around 30 baht per person.
You can take a bus from Changpuak Bus Station to Doi Suthep. The bus ride takes approximately 1 hour and costs around 40 baht per person.
You can take a songthaew (a shared taxi) from Nimman to Doi Suthep. The cost of the songthaew is typically around 50-60 baht per person. The journey takes approximately 30 minutes.
You can try to negotiate a lower price with the driver of a songthaew (a shared taxi) to Doi Suthep. You can also try to find a group of people to share the ride with, as this will help to reduce the cost per person.
The best way to get to Doi Suthep inexpensively is by regular songthaew or public bus. Don’t forget that a private ride will cost you at least 400 Thai Baht.
If you’re looking for the cheapest way to get to Doi Suthep, you can go there on foot along the monks’ trail. The hiking trail to Doi Suthep starts at the base of the mountain, near the Chiang Mai Zoo. The trail is well-marked and takes approximately 2-3 hours to complete. It is absolutely free.
You can take a songtheaw (a shared taxi) back from Wat Phra That Doi Suthep to the city center of Chiang Mai. The cost of the songtheaw is typically around 50-60 baht per person.
You can hike to Doi Suthep from the city center of Chiang Mai. The hike takes approximately 2-3 hours and is a great way to get some exercise and take in the beautiful scenery. It is recommended to bring plenty of water and snacks, and to wear comfortable shoes.
The Wat Phra That Doi Suthep opens at 6:00 AM.
The temple complex at Doi Suthep closes at 5:00 PM.
The best time to explore Doi Suthep is in the morning, when the temple complex opens at 6:00 AM. This will give you plenty of time to explore the temple complex and take in the views from the top of the mountain before the crowds arrive.
There are several restaurants and cafes located near the temple complex at Doi Suthep. These restaurants offer a variety of Thai and international dishes, as well as snacks and drinks.
Check out our prices for renting automatic scooters and maxi-scooters, semi-automatic motorbikes, and motorcycles with manual gear. If you prefer to travel by car, be sure to read our guide on how you can save up to half the cost of a rental car in Chiang Mai.
For a complete list of our travel guides, see our Northern Thailand Routes and Travel Notes section. Also, we strongly recommend reading the article on why even experienced riders can have brake failure.
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