on July 8, 2008
We were told that it is best to visit the mountain temple early in the morning before the crowds. We were leaving in the afternoon, so we made sure to get up extra early (6:30am). In Lonely Planet, it said that we could catch a son tao (which is a truck with two benches) for just 20 baht all the way up the mountain. Unfortunately, this was not the case, as all the son taos wanted to charge us 500 – 600 baht. Finally, one took us to the "bus station" for Dot Suthep, which is just a holding area for more son taos. The fare was 50 baht per person, but the truck wouldn’t leave unless there were 10 people on board. This was frustrating as we were the only 2 passengers at 7:30am. We waited 10 minutes, and finally, we decided to just bite the bullet and pay the money to get up there. Our driver said he would take us, round trip, for 500 baht.It is quite a ride up there – the drivers will say 45 minutes, but it’s actually around 25-30 minutes. The mountain is quite steep and curvy, but offers a great view of the area. Once up there, the entrance was crammed with cheesy souvenir vendors, as well as vendors of flowers to take up to the temple.You will have to climb up approx. 300 steps to get up to the temple – take your time! Once you get in, you’ll see that foreigners need to pay, and Thais do not. The view from the top is really breathtaking, and the flowers that they’ve planted on the premises were very vibrant in color. Within the temple itself, there are lots of different donation boxes on display (for the blind, disabled, children, etc), as well as several interesting buddhas. There is a ritual you may want to take part in, requiring you to purchase some flowers and incense from a vendor within the temple (20 baht). Take the flowers and walk once around the temple. Afterwards, light the incense and place them in the receptacle. Lastly, there are candles for you to light and put in a different receptacle. It’s a pretty spiritual experience, and there are lots of people doing it, so if you want to take part, just follow those who seem to know what they’re doing.Other interesting things to look at are the marble plates that are like gravestones for loved ones, and there are some giant bells. There is also a coffee shop so you can enjoy a beverage up there. Please remember to wear temple appropriate clothing – long pants and shirts with sleeves. The whole visit took about 1 hour and we enjoyed a waffle wrapped hot dog afterwards from one of the street vendors!
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