Results 1-9of 9 Reviews
July 8, 2008
From journal Chiang Mai - Quaint but Touristy
Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel
January 10, 2007
From journal Chiang Mai: City of the Million Guesthouses
November 6, 2004
The legend of Wat Phra goes something like this. In the mid 1300s some holy relics were discovered and placed in a carrier on the back of a white elephant. The elephant was then allowed to wander freely, but, for some reason, it took on the toughest climb in the vicinity, and then collapsing, utterly exhausted, at the site of the temple. Its death at this place prompted the building of a holy place. Some of the buildings on this site date back to the early 16th century. Extensions and restorative work over the years has resulted in the magnificent group of buildings that you see today.
From the car park to the temple you’ll have to walk up a flight of 290 steps bordered by a banister carved with the Naga, a mythological gigantic snake. Buddhist legend says that they possess immense intelligence and magical powers and can transform themselves into humans to walk unnoticed in the world of men.
The temple itself is beautiful-well worth the walk up the steps. As you enter, you need to be a wee bit careful, as the highly polished tiled marble floor is a little slippery underfoot. It’s not overly patterned, but is extremely attractive in its geometric design. On this large "patio" are several trees-indeed the plant life in this temple is worth studying. The vibrant flowers and the variety of leaf hues complement the rich colours of the buildings. A gold leaf on the temple reflects the clear blue skies and glistens brightly in the sunshine. It truly is a colourful experience up here on Doi Suthep. And then we see the tangible confirmation of the White Elephant story. The monument established in its memory stands serenely in the shade, and the red adornments present a very powerful image.
As you would expect, the temple has a large variety of Buddha’s, some surrounded in incredibly gaudy mosaics. In the very centre of the temple complex, in the middle of an enclosed courtyard, is a massive bell-like construction, the Chedi, which is beautifully decorated, as befitting its status as a holy place.
There are some fantastic buildings in this complex that are decorated with rich colours and filled with religious symbolism in the wall paintings and engravings, and I just love to see the row of bells lining up outside of the houses of prayer. I find them strangely evocative of a bygone age-an age that is still an actual reality in this peaceful environment.
From journal A Trip to Northern Thailand
October 15, 2002
To get to the temple, you take the steep but modern paved road up the Doi Suthep mountain. ("Doi" means mountain in Thai). We were spoiled and our driver Somporn drove us there, but there were many buses and motorbikes heading up the hill.
The gateway to the temple is a steep and impressive 300 step stairway that takes 10 minutes to ascend. There is also some sort of electrical tram that takes the less fit travelers to the top. Travelers have to remember that this is an active and living temple for Buddhists, and you have to dress appropriately. So keep in mind there are no shorts, tank tops, and short skirts allowed! You also have to remove your shoes, and walk around barefoot in the inner sanctum of the temple area, which I found to be a comfortable and unobtrusive way to visit the temple. Barefoot is the only way to go at Thai temples.
When the rain cleared and the sun came out, we were thrilled at the most incredible view of the gleaming golden Chedi (tower) that dominates the inner sanctuary. It seemed to glow against the clear blue sky. Worshippers placed offerings of flowers, candles, gold foil, and incense in front of the Chedi and Buddha images, and they pray to Buddha. The most impressive views of Chiang Mai are also found here. Walking around the temple, we took in the ornate and gilded spires and peaks of temple buildings, growling dragon fixtures, precious Buddha statues, and observed the worshippers and monks.
We left the temple with an appreciation of the religious customs of Thailand, and how Thai people and monks worship. After descending the 300 steps, we stopped by one of the dozen stalls and shops to get a snack. Some hawkers bugged us to buy some artwork. I bought some freshly fried sweet, sticky bananas for the ride to the airport, and I was feeling a bit sad to be leaving Chiang Mai.
From journal Chiang Mai memories
Port Angeles, Washington
January 9, 2002
To get into the temple from the parking area, there is a series of 300 steps to go up. The sides of the stairs are bodies of serpents intricately adorned with colored glass. At the top, the first thing you see is the giant gold-covered pagoda. The story of the pagoda is that it is built over a "relic" of the Buddha. Nobody knows what the relic is… it could be a lock of hair, or pretty much anything. The relic is said to have been brought up the mountain on the back of a white elephant. The elephant reached a spot near the top, turned around three times and then laid down. This was a sign that this was where the temple should be built.
There is a panoramic view of Chiang Mai from the Wat. The Wat is extremely clean and well kept – it is considered to be one of the most special places in Thailand and is therefore one of the few temples lucky enough to receive aid from the government for upkeep. Most temples are kept entirely by donations and by hard work by the monks.
A few of us from our group received a blessing from a monk (after which a small donation is expected) so that we could have a safe backpacking trip for the next 4 days. We were each given a string bracelet that we are supposed to wear until it falls off (mine has been on over a month). Monks are not allowed to touch women, so our tour guide tied our strings on for us. At sunset, the monks started their chanting and we stayed to observe for a while. There were very few people left at the Wat, so we enjoyed the peace before heading back down the mountain.
From journal Chiang Mai – Week 1 of 4 of Thailand trip
January 1, 2001
Of all the Thai temples, for me, Wat Doi Suthep seemed the most spiritual and authentic. Maybe it was the altitude, but I felt that I was walking through the threshold to heaven.
At the temple, we sat in front of a large Buddha, and had our fortunes told by shaking a container full of Joss sticks (I Ching) until one fell out. We then asked our guide to read it for us. Fortune telling is an important part of Eastern religions and should be respected. I am happy to say that my somewhat negative prediction did not come true.
Wat Doi Suthep can be called a golden Pagoda. It is one of the most photographed temples in Thailand. For me, this temple was far more beautiful than the Palace in Bangkok, because it was less ornate and in a much more beautiful area.
Outside of the temple, we visited an outside market. There is a great jade factory there, so don’t miss it. The prices may seem to be higher, but the quality of the stones is also better than what you normally find in the states.
After leaving the temple, we boarded a traditional pick-up truck style bus and headed up a dirt road to a hill tribe village. These buses are literally small pick up trucks with benches on the sides, and the only air conditioning is natural, hot air. Boy, I wish the truck had better shock absorbers!
Along the way to the town, we drove through small streams and saw quite a few small forest fires. By the time that we arrived, we were covered in dust, hot, and miserable. Fortunately, someone thought ahead, and we had ice cold drinks waiting for us.
The tribes people were dressed in traditional clothing, and living in traditional homes. These people were very open with their hospitality and one of the families invited us into their home. The small home was built out of wood and had a dirt floor. All of their possessions hung on the walls. A large fire pit used for cooking graced the center of the room. After spending my entire life in the comfort of the United States, it was a shock to see that people still lived this way.
Pigs joyfully ran through the streets and the children played throughout the town. The women set up a group of tables and sold their handcrafted items. This tribe was noted for their embroidery and cloth work. While I felt like an invader to this tribe’s privacy, I am glad that I had the experience.
Hill tribes and temples – that is what makes up Chiang Mai.
From journal Chiang Mai, Thailand; the Land of Smiles.
June 25, 2005
Rough Guides readers who are visiting Chiang Mai in June [that's when a new school term starts, I reckon] must ask around for the day of CMU students' trek to Wat Doi Suthep so that they can bear witness to this joyous and monumental occasion.
*Chiang Mai University was established in 1964 and celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. Trekking up Wat Doi Suthep is a practice fondly adhered to by every new batch of freshies.
From journal Charming Chiang Mai
by world designer
Rancho Santa Fe, California
November 30, 2000
From journal Chiangmai- Thailands mountain community
February 22, 2007
From journal Thailand's Northern Jewel