Many of our readers know that we spent almost two months in Cambodia, and we didn’t really want to go to our next destination — Thailand. But after some hesitation we finally went from Battambang, a lively Cambodian town, to Bangkok.
There are amazing buddhist temples in Bangkok, but we didn’t like the city itself too much: it’s a loud megapolis with huge highways, and it’s not too great for walking. We used the stop in Bangkok to get visas to Myanmar in the local embassy. We heard a lot of good things about Thai islands, but we didn’t want to go to the beaches just yet, so after Bangkok we decided to go to the northern part of the country, to Chiang Mai city.
There are more than 300 temples and stupas in Chiang Mai, so there is a pagoda almost around every corner. When we have more time, we will write more about the city, but today we will tell about one of the most famous temples in Thailand. It is located 15 minutes away from Chiang Mai, on the Doi Suthep mountain.
Many people come to Doi Suthep on the local variety taxi — converted pickup trucks with benches for people — or buy tours in Chiang Mai. We prefer to drive by ourself everywhere, so to travel to the mountain we rented a motorbike. The road there is excellent.
Doi Suthep is a popular place among buddhists and tourists. There is a large parking lot and many shops at the bottom of the hill where the temple is located — a bustling place, but the temple itself has a very different atmosphere.
To get to the temple, you need to go up a wide staircase with 300 stairs. There is also a funicular for those who don’t want to use the stairs — you need to buy a separate ticket to use it. We were surprised to see a funicular and its populatiry among the tourists as the way up the stairs is pretty easy. But it’s the easiest way to get up for older people and people with disabilities. The stairs are decorated with Nagas — mythical serpents.
A dog lives near the stairs.
The territory of the temple is quite big: there are pagodas, statues, bells and numerous shrines. By the way, everybody can hit the bells. Overall, there are not many требования for the visitors of the buddhist temples: don’t wear anything too revealing, take off the shoes at the entrance and don’t point your feet at Buddha while sitting.
This is is how the lotus flowers look.
The holiest place in the temple is a large golden stupa. The buddhists walk around it with lotus flowers, reading prayers. The stupa is beautiful and luminous, especially at the bright sun. Andrei was fascinated by it and took photos from all possible angles.
It is really interesting to watch people making all kinds of rituals in buddhist temples. For example, they pour oil into seven oil lamps one by one. Or they put coins into a row of 20 vats.
Buddhist monks giving blessings.
This temple is believed to be built in 14th century, and it was rebuilt and renovated many times after that. For a long time there was no road to Doi Suthep — it was made in 1935. But now Doi Suthep as well as Chiang Mai (that was cut off from the rest of the world until 1920) are very popular pilgrimage and tourist destinations.
When the weather is good, you can see the whole city from the observation deck, but we weren’t lucky — there was fog over Chiang Mai.
Although very popular, Doi Suthep fells like a holy and authentic place. There is no feeling that is has become some kind of a tourists trap. There are many wonderful temples in Thailand, but we especially recommend going to Doi Suthep.