After temple hopping around Chiang Mai, Thailand, there’s only one temple left to pay a visit-Doi Suthep. It’s quite far from the CBD and again, I needed to hire a songthaew to be able to get there. But before that, I needed to find those songthaews heading to Doi Suthep.
I walked, asked and literally crossed roads back and forth a couple of times because I wasn’t sure exactly where to find those songthaews, but then I found one. The thing was, I was alone and I couldn’t afford to pay for the entire fare. So, the only option for the poor solo traveler was to wait for other people to arrive and chip in.
Yuki and Kisa, a fresh graduate Japanese couple arrived before me. After a while, three Spanish backpackers, Petra, Hosef and Sarah, arrived. Petra was cool. She just won’t stop talking, and she was totally useful. The driver said we should pay a hundred baht each but she negotiated and didn’t stop until the driver pulled it down to 70. Hah! You want to meet this woman on your trip.
While on the road, we shared stories and snacks (their snacks) while Kisa dozed off the entire trip. Sarah and Petra just kept on talking and laughing in partial English and Spanish while they made Hosef their official photographer the entire time.
We arrived at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. There were a lot of souvenir shops and a long queue of vehicles waiting beside the road. I asked everyone to strike a pose for my camera before we said goodbye to each other.
Doi Suthep Temple sits on top of Mount Doi Suthep overlooking Chiang Mai. I needed to climb a few steps then passed by a huge golden statue of a monk, turned right to a huge statue of a Buddha and a huge gong next to it. A few more steps and I reached a platform where another plight of stairs awaits. I lost count of how many they were as sweat and shortness of breath consumed me. I really hate climbing (anything). The base of the steps, however, was adorned by two dragons with intricate designs whose bodies extend up to the top of the stairs. There’s an entrance fee of 30 baht but I doubt if everyone pays when there are a lot of visitors. Shoes and slippers have to be removed before entering the temple. There is no specific place for footwear so you can find everything scattered at the entrance. You might want to put yours anywhere safe like the sides of the walls and try to wear something unique to easily spot it when you leave.
The exterior design of the temple was like the rest of the temples I’ve seen before-roofs adorned with golden dragons, exterior walls with carved, golden details, bells hanging at the roof. What stood out was the stupa, a huge, dome-shaped, golden structure. It was wrapped in orange cloth with the names of the visitors in it. A number of small golden Buddha statues in different positions surround the stupa just outside its fences. There was also a replica of an emerald Buddha beside it. Since everyone has to leave their footwear outside, the floor was clean you can sit or roll over if you want to. Of course, you don’t want to do the latter.
The place could get very crowded during peak season, so I suggest paying a visit during low season to fully appreciate everything. You can drop by Chiang Mai Zoo on your way back since songthaews going back to CBD are easy to find.