During my stay in Chiang Mai I decided to visit Doi Suthep mountain as it is home to the most important temple in Chiang Mai, and one of the most important ones in all Thailand. That is because there is a Buddha relic in this temple. That’s why it is so important. The legend says that when Buddha- Siddhartha Gautama- was cremated after death, his bones turned into crystal, and one of those is at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. This is why you will find people from all Thailand here.
Going to Doi Suthep by local bus
Doi Suthep is about 15km away from Chiang Mai city center, and the cheapest way to get there is on the red pick-up bus. The bus station is marked on maps.me as “Doi Suthep station Songtheaw” and it’s easy spottable. There are several red buses in line and as soon as there are at least 10 passengers we will depart. Once I got there, some foreigners were already in line, and it actually didn’t take longer than 15 minutes to start the bus journey to Doi Suthep. One way trip costs 60 bahts and takes about 45 minutes to arrive at the last stop. There will be a man trying to sell you a round way ticket, but don’t accept it. To turn back there are many buses and the process is the same. Don’t need to follow a strict timing just because you made an agreement with this guy previously.
I had thought of going there by bicycle but I’m glad I didn’t as the street is uphill most part of the time. The journey is not so pleasant because the bus doesn’t allow many views to the outside. Also, it is filled with tourists so the cultural exchange is 0. I bet there must be another way to go there as this is clearly not the means of transport that locals use to get to Doi Suthep.
Once at the top, the street is filled with street sellers. There is food, drinks, and so many souvenir options that I spend large minutes walking around and admiring Thai crafts. After lunch, I started the climb of 309 steps. Not that many. At the beginning of the staircase is a group of young girls dressed up for tourists. They belong to the Akha tribe that migrated to Thailand and found a way of subsisting in tourism. Just like the long neck women did. Their clothes are so beautiful!!! I wanted to buy a whole set for myself. I really love the tribal outfits. These girls are there so tourists can take some pictures of them in exchange for money. I didn’t do it as believe I am supporting them to not attend school as their parents find that is more profitable to have them around there. Although I was actually willing to help them. I have mixed feelings about this…
Visiting Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
I needed to pay a 100 baht fee before going inside Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Be sure you are dressing properly. The temple is very crowded, just like the area before reaching it. It’s clear its importance.
The temple has a golden stupa in the middle and many Buddha statues around. It is beautiful but I don’t actually think is worth all the money I spent to be able to see it. I thought that maybe the view would be incredible, but not even that.
The mountain is too high and far from the city, so the view is very whitish. You don’t get to see many details, just a big amount of buildings far away. After 5 minutes checking the view I’m done. That denounces how not impressive it was.
But the complex of the temple is big and you can spend a lot of time here. I decided to go down a staircase that no one else did. It’s incredible to think that this temple is super crowded but as I get away from it a few meters it is not crowded anymore. In fact, I saw no one else in that beautiful and pleasant staircase. Silence and calmness at last.
Jungle trekking Chiang Mai
I see that there are some jungle treks around, so I try to get into the jungle. As I find the beginning of the trek, I face this board stating that I must contact the National Park for this trail. Well, that intrigued me a lot. Why the hell can’t I just go on my own here. I have no idea why this sign. Is it something dangerous out there?
Anyway, I don’t like to break the rules when I’m visiting another country, but I have no idea how to contact the National Park. Where should I go to do so?
I decided to go ahead anyway. My intention was to get to Sai Yoi Waterfall, but I did less than halfway there. I walked for about 20 minutes in the jungle and thought there was nothing wrong with this trek. So why couldn’t I just do it?
At some point, I reach a junction that points a way to reach the National Park headquarters. I decided to follow it, and maybe there I could find someone. There was no one there. I didn’t see a living soul around, but there were some houses. There was also a big garbage dump just in the middle of the forest. I see where all the trash is ending up… here where no one can see it… But I did.
As I didn’t see anyone or whatsoever, I decided to go back to the Doi Suthep area and wait for the red bus to be full so I can go back to Chiang Mai. Back in town, wandering the streets is a nice idea. They look cozy and beautiful with some graffiti decorating them. While wandering around, I found this shop that I thought very attractive: INTANU. It has wonderful handicrafts like I haven’t seen before. I love it!! I could buy every item if I had money to do so, haha. There were sculptures of Thai guardians and Hindu Gods with so many details and wonderful colors. I was mesmerized. They actually have a workshop to do your own art piece which I found incredible. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time that day.
Night Bazaar Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai has a huge night bazaar going on. It is so big that I didn’t see it all. I walked for hours and hours and wouldn’t get tired of seeing so many wonderful things. People here are very creative and create really distinguished goods. This is a souvenir’s paradise. There is also food and drinks so you can clearly spend a whole evening here. Trust me, this bazaar is really huge and they shut down the traffic on the street so it can happen. This market only happens on Sunday’s at Tha Pae Sunday walking street that is extended for 1 km long. On this day there were some performances of school kids I guess, so I sat to enjoy the show. I was enjoying so much that I almost forgot that I have a bus to catch this same evening. I realized it just in time!! I almost had to run to the hostel to pick up my backpack. I ended up the night thinking how the hell did I almost forgot that I have a bus journey!!! The market was just being too amusing 🙂
Here is my video of Chiang Mai: