Wat Doi Suthep was built around 1383 by King Keuna. The temple is located around 15 kilometers from Chiang Mai city center on mountain Doi Suthep.
You can spot Wat Doi Suthep from almost everywhere in the city, and from the temple itself, there is a marvelous view over Chiang Mai.
It is one of the most well-known temples in Chiang Mai and is a very big tourist attraction. For Thai visiting from other provinces a visit to Wat Doi Suthep, is almost mandatory. I have heard many Thais say ” if you have not visited Wat Doi Suthep you have not visited Chiang Mai”
Almost every tuk-tuk driver and taxi driver know the temple. A visit to the temple can be combined with visits to Doi Pui Hmong Hill Tribe Village and Bhubing Palace. All tree paces are located in Doi Suthep national park, like pearls on a string, on the curved mountain roads.
If you leave in the early morning, and first visit Wat Doi Suthep to avoid it is too busy, you can be back in Chiang Mai early afternoon after seeing all 3 places.
After i had made my way up Doi Suthep, and had arrived at the main entrance, i had to find a place to park my car. There was no parking anywhere nearby the entrance, there was “red taxies” and mini busses parked everywhere. I can not remember i have seen so many “red taxies” and minibusses at the same place, not even at the airport.
I had to drive around to find a parking lot, the first lot i found, was full. Fortunately there is not only one parking lot there are several. I found one 10 minutes walk away from the entrance. The streets from the parking lot to the entrance was lined with tourist shops.
To enter the temple you must first climb a very long staircase. At the base and a little way up the staircase there is a lot of small selling stands souvenirs and food. When the stands stops people collecting money for charities take over.
When you come to the top you have to pay admission to enter, i do not remember any other temple i have visited in Thailand where you should buy a ticket to get in.
There is also a lift there can take you to the top, if you do not have the courage for the stairs.
However, when i saw the stairs and all the people, i decided i had to use a toilet first. The toilet was to the left of the stairs and the lift.
When I came out from the toilet I saw a monk going up a small flight of stairs. I asked him one could get up to the temple that way. He said that the stair was leading up to the temple, so I took that route instead of going to back to the main staircase.
It is normal in temples thet there is a place where you can buy small offerings, but at Wat Doi Suthep there is not a little stand selling, but there a is of shops. It was now clear to me, if it have not been before, that Wat Doi Suthep is big business, not a small modest mountain temple.
I have never seen so people in a temple in Chiang Mai before, there was people everywhere. I asked a monk if it was normal with so many people. With pride in his voice he answered “No normally there is more”. I asked him if there was any time at the day where there it was not so crowded, he said about 6 o’clock in the morning there is not much people, and added that the sunrise seen from the temple is very beautiful.
Also there is a marvelous view of Chiang Mai, and there is a big terrace where you can enjoy it from. I can only recommend a visit to Wat Doi Suthep, but be sure to be there early in the morning when it is not so busy. I was there shortly before 12 o’clock, and there was a lot of Chinese tourist. The feeling i got was more the one of being at Shanghais main station in rush hour, instead of being in a peaceful quiet mountain temple, where you can immerse yourself in meditation.