When we arrived in Chiang Mai, we knew that we wanted to visit the sacred temple on top of the mountain: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
There are several ways that you can get up to the temple, located about 30-40 minutes outside of the Old Town. If you're game (and I was not), you can rent a motorbike to ride around and get up to the temple. We saw several people doing this. You can also rent a car or bike to get up the mountain. We ended up renting an open red taxi. If you're traveling in a group, this taxi is a great option (it seats 8-12 people all going to the same destination). It was fairly cheap (300 or so THB) per person to rent the taxi for a few hours. Because we were traveling alone and nobody else was headed up to the temple, we rented a taxi for ourselves for roughly 1,200 THB. The taxi drove us up to the temple, waited while we explored (about 90 minutes) and then dropped us off where it picked us up (although the driver was willing to drop us off anywhere in Old Town).
Exploring Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Once you are up the mountain, you’ll find yourself at the foot of the temple surrounded by souvenir and food/snack shops. I recommend the honey-dipped banana.
To get up to the temple, you’ll have to climb up 300+ stairs. Get ready to sweat. After the stairs, you’ll arrive at the front entrance (and need to pay 30 THB to get in).
There are several places to pray and meditate throughout the facility. We went to observe others praying while a monk blessed them with holy water when we caught the attention of the monk.
“Where are you from?” he asked. When we told him “United States,” he started laughing. I was so embarrassed. While I think he meant it in fun, I took it as being mocked for our then-recent election. Regardless, we knelt down to pray as well.
Cost: Admission is 30 THB but there are lots opportunities to donate to the temple.
Attire: Make sure to wear temple attire: Don’t show your knees or shoulders (or cleavage, for women). Also, make sure that you’re wearing shoes that you can easily slip off.
Tip: I would either get there early (it is open 6am-6pm) and make sure that you go on a clear day if possible
Fun Fact: The temple was originally built as a Buddhist monastery in the 1300s.