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Wat Phra That Doi Suthep: the iconic temple of Chiang Mai

Hiding its beauty among the dense forests of the Doi Suthep mountains, just a few kilometers from Chiang Mai, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep stands as one of the most sacred and iconic temples in northern Thailand. This astonishing religious complex is rich in history, culture and spirituality. In this article, we will explore the enchanting world of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and discover why it is a religious landmark and a fascinating tourist attraction.

The history of the place has its roots in antiquity. It is said that in 1368, a fragment of Buddha bone was placed on a white elephant. The elephant, according to legend, climbed to the top of Mount Doi Suthep and stopped in one place before falling dead. This event was interpreted as a divine sign, and the temple was built on the site where the elephant stopped.

The architecture of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Phre That

This complex stands as a remarkable testament to Thai sacred architecture. Its primary centerpiece, the resplendent golden stupa, referred to as “Phra That,” gleams in the sunlight and houses the sacred relics of Buddha. Surrounding the stupa are diverse structures, prangs, and elaborate statues. The temple’s extensive use of traditional Thai gilding and ornamentation renders it an awe-inspiring spectacle.

Naga Staircase

Access to the temple is via a staircase of 306 steps, flanked by stone guardians in the shape of mythological serpents called Nagas. These large snakes symbolize protection and represent a distinctive element of Buddhist temple architecture in Thailand.

Buddha statues

Inside the temple complex, you will find various Buddha statues which, depending on the pose, takes on its own religious significance.

Buddha statues in Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

What to see at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep?

The real reward for the effort of climbing the steps is the spectacular panoramic view. From here you can enjoy a lovely panoramic view of the city of Chiang Mai and the surrounding mountains. This spectacular view is especially mesmerizing during sunrise or sunset.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep - panorama Chiang Mai

Around the temple area, you will find markets with stalls selling souvenirs, sacred objects and local delicacies. It’s a great place to buy mementos from your trip.

How to get there and useful advice

  • Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is located about 15 kilometers from Chiang Mai. You can reach it by car, taxi or rent a car. Another fascinating option is to take a songthaew, a shared taxi, from Chiang Mai, which will take you up the mountain.
  • Since the temple is a sacred place, it is important to cover your shoulders and knees to show respect. Remove your shoes before entering the sacred areas of the temple.
  • The temple is less crowded in the early morning, which allows you to enjoy the tranquility of the place.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is much more than just a temple. It is a place of peace, reflection and extraordinary beauty. Visiting this sacred site is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and spirituality of the Thai people and to admire their architectural heritage.