While western Europe was in the middle of its Hundred Years War, something mystical was happening over in Chiang Mai. According to legend, a Buddhist monk found what was then believed to be a holy relic – Gautama Buddha’s shoulder bone. The then king of Chiang Mai, King Nu Naone, asked for this relic but on its way to him, it broke into two. The smaller of the two pieces was enshrined at Wat Suan Dork, while the bigger piece was put on top of a white elephant. This elephant went up Doi Suthep mountain, found itself a special spot, trumpeted three times, circled it three times and then dropped dead. This location was then selected as the “chosen site”. A few years later, the Wat Doi Suthep was built.
The story of its legendary origin could not underscore enough the importance of Wat Doi Suthep (or Wat Phra Tat Doi Suthep, also Wat Phratat Doi Suthep). It is touted as the one temple that must not be missed when in Chiang Mai.
Read more: Wats to see in Chiang Mai
Located about 16 km from the Old City, getting to Wat Doi Suthep involves a forty minute ride up the winding roads of the Doi Suthep Mountain. After climbing up the 309-stepped stairway to the temple, foreigners are asked to pay the entrance fee of 30 THB. Dress code is strictly enforced: no footwear allowed and shoulders must be covered while inside the temple grounds.
Going up to see the Wat Doi Suthep also presents the option of going on a mini food trip. Check out this stall that sells fried quail eggs and coconut milk pancakes.
But my favorite are these pork barbeques. Really yummy!
At the exit of the temple grounds are some taxi cabs that offer rides up to the Bhubing Palace. Unfortunately, I was not able to go there. My companions on this road trip – two Dutch guys – were not very keen on seeing the gardens so we headed back to the Old City after an hour and a half.
My next activity: Chiang Mai’s Sunday Walking Street Night Market.
August 23, 2015
***photos were taken using iPhone6 and GoPro Hero 4 Silver