Doi Suthep Temple – Chiang Mai
Doi Suthep is possibly the most tiring temple that I have ever been to. It’s set at the top of a very large hill (seriously, the taxi took nearly 1 hour to climb to the top) and even once you get out of the taxi you still have some more climbing to do.
When we jumped in to our taxi and asked them to take us somewhere nice, we weren’t expecting them to take us here. The road up to the temple was a long, winding road up the side of a mountain. There were a few stunning views on the way up but be warned, it gets very high. After an hour of driving our taxi driver dropped us off and told us they would wait there for us. The pointed towards some steps and said “now you climb”. I could see a few buildings at the top of the stairs and thought… yeah, that’s cool, not too many stairs… I can handle this! I couldn’t have been any more wrong.
We bought some food from a street vendor at the bottom and then began to walk. The sausages we bought were meant to be non-spicy, but I should have known that even non-spicy things in Thailand can blow your head off with the heat. For somebody who can’t handle hot food I wasn’t all too impressed. We reached the top of the stairs but couldn’t see any temples. There were a few more street vendors and a large building with a thousand signs stating they had toilets. No sooner than reading the signs my stomach turned. I’m not sure if it was down to the winding road up or the sausage that I’d just eaten but something was certainly wasn’t right. I told the people I was with that I was just going to go to the toilets and then we’d carry on a bit further to see if we could find the temple. On my way through there was a small child sitting on a stool in front of the entrance. He was charging 50 baht per person to use the bathroom. With my money situation still dire I actually couldn’t afford to go. Devastated wasn’t the word!
Putting on a brave face I walked back outside and tried to ignore the wrenching feeling in my stomach although deep down I just wanted to vomit. I regrouped with the others and we walked a little further. We came face to face with another set of stairs lined with street vendors and small stalls. Again we climbed to the top and again we were met with more steps. This time we could see the temple at the top of the stairs, but the stairs must have been the biggest set of stairs I have ever seen. They had dragons weaving all of the way up as hand rails and the golden top of the temple entrance was peeking out at the top.
We climbed the stairs, stopping a few times to take photos (but the real reason was to catch our breath back) considering I wasn’t very well I thought I’d managed pretty well. We paid our 30 Baht to enter the temple and then took a walk around. This temple was a lot nicer to the others that I’ve been to before. There were areas that you could sit quietly and admire the scenery. There were views of Chiang Mai that were quite spectacular (even though the pollution in the air kinda ruined it a bit) and there was another section to the temple that seemed very… different. I don’t know how to explain it properly, but once you’re inside there were so many people but it was ever so quiet. Nobody was saying anything. You could see people’s mouths moving as they were saying silent prayers towards a giant golden spire in the centre but there was no noise. It was very surreal.
If you’re ever planning to visit Thailand, you should definitely stop by Chiang Mai. It’s a really cool city with a lot of things to discover. Plus, it is really easy to book a cheap hotel room in Chaing Mai, which will allow you to save for food and all the activities you want to do during your trip. I was glad that the Taxi took us on this crazy adventure. As long as you don’t mind the insane amount of stairs, you should go visit the Doi Suthep Temple. It’s relatively cheap and it’s a good day out!