According to a few reviews on TripAdvisor: “if you only have time to see one temple in northern Thailand, Doi Suthep is the one to see.”
We started our tour early as it was quite a long drive up the lush green mountainside to get to Doi Suthep. Our first stop was a rural hillside Meo village. This part of the tour was to show the “simple life” of the villagers. Yes, they grow their own weed and poppy but they aren’t exactly self-sustainable. They are completely geared to appeal to tourists i.e yet another tourist trap. The villagers are nice enough but it seems as though they are looking at you like dollar bill bags. In the end, most people buy a trinket or two just to support the villagers.
We then drove onwards to Doi Suthep. The mountain views are spectacular. The legend of Doi Suthep goes as follows (Fodors, 2011): An elephant was carrying religious relics from Chaing Mai. Instead of going to the intended destination, the elephant climbed up the mountain (3542 feet). It was decided that the Buddhists would build a temple there to contain the relics. And it’s a stunning temple indeed!
Two options are available to gain access to the temple: either climb up 300+ stairs or take a cable car. Of course, being the lazy traveler I am, I took the cable car. It’s not at all a fancy cable car like the one going to Table Mountain. It is more like a combination of a lift and escalator. Small and stuffy.
The temple is beautiful and the views from the temple are breathtaking.
I highly recommend this tour if you are in Chiang Mai.
- Don’t do any major spending in the Meo Village, there are better quality products elsewhere
- Some fellow tourists did feel motion sickness on the way up to Doi Suthep. If you know you are prone to motion sickness then get a window seat and open the window
- It can get chilly on the mountain early in the morning so take a jersey/ jacket
- If you take a photo with a villager, they expect you to pay
- If you can avoid using the toilet in the village, do so (the toilets are “rural”)