In southeast Asia, there are lots of temples. Okay, that’s an understatement- there are a zillion temples! And as much as one can get ‘templed out’ at some point, I’m pretty resilient when it comes to exploring temples and ruins. Chiang Mai is home to one of the holiest Buddhist temples in northern Thailand: Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. Fifteen kilometers outside of Chiang Mai, it is located on top of the mountain Doi Suthep. This location provides magnificent views of Chiang Mai (unless you go on a foggy day like I did).
Lauren and I were planning to wing it with a tuk-tuk and a sawngthaew, but got a great rate on a personal driver so we took it. I can’t recall his name but our driver was precious! He carries an old film camera with him and gets a photo with every one he drives. Then, he has his clients write comments in a book about their time spent with him and he will later attach the photo after he gets it developed. We had to stop for gas on our way to the wat, and Lauren and I flipped through this book. The photos and info were great, and our driver was so cute in all the photos (cute in the cute old man way). He had also made albums with brochures and information on tourist sites, accommodations, and restaurants around the city.
Once at the wat, we could choose between taking the elevator or the stairs. We, of course, chose the stairs, but they were a breeze compared to the ones we climbed in Battambang. Interestingly, once at the top, I noticed both Buddhist and Hindu influences. There is a Ganesh statue prominently displayed, along with many different types of Buddhas. We took off our shoes and entered in to the temple area. There were many rituals going on, including walking around the chedi several times. I entered into an area where a Buddhist monk was dishing out blessings. Everyone was kneeling before him, so I did as well. At the end of his blessing, he shooed us to another monk who tied a white string bracelet on each of us. I still have mine on- it’s not exactly white anymore but I haven’t brought my self to part ways with it yet.
Of course we saw typical Buddhist temple features, but it was beautiful and still quite unique. There were donation boxes all over the property, requesting money for many types of projects. This one (below) is raising money for the blind school.
If visiting Chiang Mai, I highly recommend a visit to Doi Suthep. If you’re really rough and tough, you can choose to bike to the top but don’t say I didn’t warn you! To see more photos from our visit to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, click here.