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Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

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As the saying goes, if you haven’t visited Wat Doi Suthep, you haven’t visited Chiang Mai!

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Regrettably most other visitors to Chiang Mai have heard the same expression, so firstly we’d say avoid timing your visit on a weekend, long weekend or public holiday. Even on a low season weekday the scene here can become a bit of circus, so regardless of when you are going, it is well worth getting up there as early as possible in the morning.

People come for the views... Photo taken in or around Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

People come for the views... Photo: Mark Ord

The 13th century temple is spectacularly sited on an east facing, flattened outcrop just below the summit of Doi Suthep. The mountain is in turn located just in front of slightly higher Doi Pui which together form the Doi Suthep-Doi Pui National Park. (Doi means mountain in the local dialect if you hadn’t already guessed.) A trip to the wat is typically combined with other sights the mountain and national park have to offer (read more in our corresponding section).

As it's east facing with Doi Pui to the rear there’s no sunset and on a hazy day don’t expect much of a view. On a clear day, the broad vista stretches across Chiang Mai city and the Ping River to the hills of Doi Saket on the horizon. It's gorgeous and goes some way to compensate for the queues and crowds of selfie-taking tourists.

... but the Wat itself is also pretty and photogenic. Photo taken in or around Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

... but the Wat itself is also pretty and photogenic. Photo: Mark Ord

The temple is around 15 kilometres from town and reached by a good, though seriously steep and winding road. As you ascend through the forested slopes you’ll pass through varying ecological strata as the altitude changes, with occasional gaps in the trees affording increasingly spectacular views. You can get up by motorbike, songthaew or organised tour, but it's too steep for tuk tuks. We know people who’ve done it on pushbikes and during holy days, Buddhist pilgrims traditionally make the ... Travelfish members only (Around 900 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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How to get there
If you’re travelling under your own steam, then simply head straight up Huay Kaew Road past the zoo and the temple is 15 km up the hill.

By public transport, take a songthaew or tuk tuk to Chiang Mai Zoo outside of which you’ll see the Doi Suthep songthaew queue. It costs 40 baht each way per person and vehicles leave when they have 8 to 10 passengers on board. Ditto the return journey; they depart from the foot of the temple steps.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
15km west of Chiang Mai

Location map for Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

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Popular attractions in Chiang Mai

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Chiang Mai.

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A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Chiang Mai.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Chiang Mai.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Chiang Mai.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Chiang Mai.
 Read up on how to get to Chiang Mai, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Chiang Mai? Please read this.
 Buy a SIM card for Thailand—pick it up at the airport when you arrive.
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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Chiang Mai? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Thailand.

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