on January 10, 2007
In a sunny, glorious morning, I decided to walk up from Chiang Mai’s Zoo to the Doi Suthep Temple, eleven kilometers uphill. It didn’t take long – and for the most unexpected reason – to find out that I took the right decision. In any case, frequent trucks leave the corner of Manee Noparat and Chotana roads for the trip up the mountain (B30 to the temple).Doi Suthep, The 1676m mountain, 16km northwest of Chiang Mai, is named after a hermit who lived on the mountain's slops for many years. At the summit is Northern Thailand most sacred temple, the 600-year-old Wat Phra Doi Suthep. After walking five kilometers, sometimes steep but always paved, a friendly Thai riding a motorbike stopped by me and insisted to leave me at the temple’s base. From there, a 300 steps Naga staircase (shaped as two undulating serpents) took me to the summit, where the temple is located. A funicular makes the same way for B10. Inside the temple there is a delicate copper-plated chedi topped by a five-tiered gold umbrella and a large collection of drums, bells and other related artifacts. However the main attraction is the spectacular aerial view of Chiang Mai from above.The area around the wat features several other attractions of interest. Phra Tamnak Phu Phing is a winter palace for the royal family and has beautiful gardens open to the public. A Hmong village is worth visiting - if you won't have the chance to make it out to a more remote hill tribe village. There is also the popular Monthathon Falls, which is a well-frequented swimming spot for Chiang Mai residents on weekends.Done with the temple, I decided to end my failed attempt to walk up the mountain, this time in the way down. Soon, I heard a persistent whistle. Looking back, I saw a Thai soldier running after me. Unable to guess what was the problem, I stopped walking and waited for him to reach me. "The King is coming," he told me and continued explaining that the king was in his way to his nearby palace. I was kindly requested to take off my hat and sunglasses, to stay next to the soldier and not to take any pictures. Soon, the royal caravan passed by and provided one of the most unusual sights of my trip. Suddenly, walking up and down the mountain looked as the most sensible approach.Open daily from 06:00 to 19:00.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009