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The temple Wat Phrathat sits on top of the Doi Suthep hill. 300+ steps up!  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Thailand > Northern > Chiang Mai > Sights & Attractions

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

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The quintessential image of Chiang Mai with its large gold-plated chedi, visible from the city on a clear day, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is 18km from town, sitting at a 1,073m elevation on the slopes of Doi (Mount) Suthep.

Built in 1383 during the Lanna Thai period, legend has it that the temples site was selected by an elephant sent to roam the mountain side, where upon reaching a suitable spot, it trumpeted, circled three times, knelt down and promptly died - which was interpreted as a sign indicating an auspicious site.

The temple is and offers grand views over the city, but no reward is without effort as you must accent the 300-plus steps of the Naga lined stairs. The climb may be a strain in high altitudes thin air for the less fit so you may opt to take the cable car for 20 baht.

The entry fee is 30 baht. During July it is traditional for people to walk from the zoo to the temple and vast numbers make the pilgrimage to the top, which takes around 4-5 hours.


Getting there is a source of much consternation by many travellers. Clearly marked songthaews leave from Pratu Chang Phuak. Prices are fixed at 40 baht up and 30 baht down; but the drivers wait until they have sufficient (up to 8) passengers before they depart, potentally making for a lengthy wait.

Most guidebooks advise taking a sawngthaew from Th Mani Nopharat, resulting in the drivers milking the tourist cash-cow and raising their price from a reasonable 40 baht to a ludicrous 500 baht.

Another option to get there is to take a songteow from your hotel to the University for B20 (if you are close to the city walls), where there will be another waiting to get a full load of passengers for a trip up the mountain. This will cost B180 per person, but you get to see not only the Temple, but also the Royal Palace gardens which are really worth a look - (dress modestly or pay B15 for fisherman pants hire to cover your lack of it - this includes ANY leg above the ankle either gender!)

Also you get to see a hilltribe village up there, and although tourist oriented, is really worth the trip!

There are many shops for local handicraft etc. These are the people from the far north of the country, many originally from Myanmar.

There are several little annoying charges to pay for Westerners - mainly B10 to B20. To enter the Doi Suthep itself is free for Thais, and B30 for "Farang" (Westerner). Tour operators will want B700 for this tour.

The journey from town can be made by motorcycle or a bicycle with appropriate gearing. The final 12km from the zoo onwards is entirely uphill and will take 60-90 minutes if cycling.

Type of place: Monument/Building
Costs: 30 baht
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand

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