Doi Suthep Temple In Chiang Mai Thailand
I have been living in Thailand for more than 10 years, and over this time I have seen many temples. I often tell tourists that if you have seen one temple, you have seen them all. This is not the case with Doi Suthep Temple in Chiang Mai. The temple is located at the top of a mountain, 15km from the city center. The history of the temple is often debated, however it is certain to be at least 700 years old. There is a giant set of stone steps at the entrance to the temple, with a total of 309 large steps. For elderly people or people not physically fit enough to climb the challenging steps, there is also a tram. The temple is free to visit for Thai citizens, and often I can ask them to make an exception for me because I have lived in Thailand for my entire adult life and speak the language fluently. Foreigners are charged a 30THB admission fee (approx. 1USD). I can guarantee you that this is one temple in Thailand that is worth the price of admission.
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The road to the Temple is easy to find from the center of Chiang Mai. Huay Kaew Road runs right into the city, you go past Central Shopping Center and head toward the mountain. At the bottom of the mountain you will see the Chiang Mai Zoo on the right hand side, and just past the zoo is the Huay Kaew waterfall. The drive to the temple will take 20-30 minutes from the bottom of the mountain, there are several rest areas with view points on the way up the mountain.
After the long drive up the mountain, you will be rewarded at the top with an outstanding view of the city. The view overlooking dowtown Chiang Mai is magical on a clear day. There are photographers at the temple offering to do professional photos of you with the view in the background for only 100THB (3USD). If you bring a camera you are free to take as many photos as you want of the view and the temple. There are many children dressed in traditional hilltribe garments that hang around outside the temple offering to have their photos taken by tourists. If you take any photos of the children, the parents will appear and ask for a small donation, normally 20THB(less than 1USD).
When you visit any temple, or government office in Thailand, you are expected to dress appropriately. This means you should be wearing long pants or trousers, with a sleeved shirt as apposed to shorts and sleeveless shirts. You will also be asked to take off your shoes before entering the temple, you will see hundreds of peoples shoes in a pile at the entrance. Once inside the temple, you should make sure not to offend anyone, keep your voice down and try to not to cause any disruption to other people.