The Subdistrict That Offers More Than Doi Suthep
Experience one of Chiang Mai’s sacred temples while discovering Hmong culture on this half day tour from Chiang Mai. Your expert guide provides lunch service along with hotel pickup and drop off.
Legend holds that King Kue Na Thammikarat divided a sacred relic into two and placed one part on the back of an elephant, which then roamed around Doi Suthep until its death at Doi Suthep and thus selected its location for a temple.
1. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, an important Buddhist temple and pilgrimage site located on Doi Suthep Mountain on the western fringes of Chiang Mai, attracts thousands of visitors annually through lush hiking trails, scenic beauty, diverse flora and fauna and convenient accessibility by car, motorcycle, songthaew or trekking.
Attractions at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep include its shimmering golden temple and its fascinating founding legend. According to legend, Sumanathera brought from India a sacred relic of Buddha called Sumanathera Buddha Relic that eventually split in two. One piece was placed into local temples while the larger piece was given free rein through the jungle before finally making an impromptu climb up Doi Suthep where it trumpeted three times and made three counterclockwise circles before finally stopping at what would become Wat Phra That Doi Suthep later that would eventually become Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep was constructed in 1383, with its striking main chedi hosting hundreds of Buddha statues donated from all over the globe. Its beautiful architecture and stunning natural setting have quickly made this temple one of Thailand’s top attractions.
If you wish to visit this amazing temple, arrive early so as to avoid crowds and wear modest clothing – Thai temples adhere to strict dress codes – while it would also be wise not to disturb monks who are praying nearby by shouting or taking flash photos with flash bulbs. Finally, refrain from loud conversation while walking around the complex as that could ruin their experience of this holy place.
To reach this destination, the fastest and easiest way is via Highway 1004. Travel time should take approximately 15km. Additionally, public transport such as red truck/songthaew parked outside Doi Suthep Nature Study Center charges 50 Baht per one-way trip.
2. Chiang Mai Zoo
Thailand offers many attractive attractions for visitors looking to expand their tan on its beaches or sample its cuisine, but Chiang Mai Zoo stands out as an exciting activity that provides family fun. Here you can explore exotic animals while marvelling at how entertaining monkeys really can be.
At the zoo, there are various zones. When entering, visitors will first experience the Huaykaew zone – home to animals from Africa with large enclosures featuring giraffes, zebras and hippos roaming freely in their natural environments. Visitors also have the opportunity to feed these animals through food purchased at the zoo; lions and tigers are not permitted within these feeding areas for safety reasons.
Attractions at the zoo include the Aquatic Animals zone, where an aquarium hosts hundreds of aquatic creatures such as fish and sharks. Plus, visitors can walk through a 436-ft aquarium tunnel that gives visitors the impression they’re underwater!
Stop by the Small Mammals enclosures for up-close encounters with meerkats, groundhogs and chipmunks; these often overlooked creatures make for a real treat to see! Additionally, Chiang Mai Zoo boasts several nocturnal animals such as bats and owls which come out at night-time; visit their habitats during night hours for your chance at witnessing these fascinating animals!
Birds: The zoo is home to many exotic birds, and its aviary allows visitors to admire them while learning more about their habitats and behaviors. Keep an eye out for hornbills as these vocal birds may make an appearance!
Reptiles: The zoo also features an impressive collection of reptiles, such as snakes and lizards, which you can learn more about by visiting ponds and terrariums at various points throughout the grounds.
If you find yourself feeling peckish during your visit to the zoo, there are various cafes and restaurants where you can grab something to eat – but keep in mind that prices may be somewhat more than anticipated if your family includes children; be prepared to spend extra if you wish to see everything!
3. Chiang Mai Night Market
Chiang Mai stands out among other Thai cities with its diverse markets. Instead of simply offering tourist souvenirs like you might find elsewhere, many feature stalls selling locally made handicrafts, unique clothing pieces, and delicacies from northern Thailand that cannot be found elsewhere.
Jing Jai Market stands out among city markets by virtue of being set on a large private lot and therefore more spacious. Additionally, its more upmarket feel sets it apart; vendors sell refreshing fruit smoothie blends while shoppers browse, along with Thai dishes as well as western fare like pizza and pasta for those who prefer meatier cuisine.
Chang Klan Road features an expansive street market on both sides, nestled inside its moat wall. The main section on the north side features souvenirs, clothing and jewellery while there are also some great food stalls selling everything from grilled skewers to Thai rice desserts.
Ratvithi Road Lane 1 of the market offers a small but cozy section devoted to crafts, fashion, and arts; as well as providing access to a number of family-run massage spots. Near Moon Muang Road Lane 6 there’s also an area containing terrace bars that allow customers to grab drinks as they browse the market.
At Jing Jai Market it’s wise to haggle when shopping clothes stalls; clothing prices are typically significantly less than the ones outside its gate. Most food stalls provide ample selection but check all ingredients first in case of allergies or sensitive stomachs. Overall these markets provide hours of fun exploring – an enjoyable way to add color to your travel experience!
4. Doi Pui National Park
Doi Pui National Park — its name refers to two mountains within it rather than any one mountain range within — is one of Thailand’s premier national parks for hiking with trails that crisscross its expansive 265km2 surface in all directions and elevations, waterfalls, views and, most notably, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple — one of Northern Thailand’s sacred sites – as its central focus.
While most visitors to the park focus on popular attractions along the main paved road, those with extra time may also discover some hidden gems within its boundaries, including Hmong tribal village near temple which provides a rare insight into indigenous lives.
Doi Pui’s forest environment boasts numerous stunning waterfalls, such as Monthathan waterfall with its tranquil pools. The trail leading up to it is steep and paved, making it an excellent mountain biking route with stunning scenery thrown in for good measure!
Doi Pui Park’s forests offer visitors a rich variety of bird species, from black-headed greenfinches and brown bush warblers to gray-winged blackbirds, dusky thrushes, Himalayan cutias, and chestnut-tailed minlas – among hundreds more! Birding enthusiasts will delight in discovering them!
Park West is also an attractive destination for photographers, and its views of the city at night are truly captivating. However, those hoping to capture its beauty during sunset should arrive early as there can often be long lines of visitors waiting their turn for pictures to be taken.
Doi Pui can be reached in several ways, including taking a songthaew ride, hiring a private driver for the day, or joining a tour. Whatever method of travel you take, however, we recommend visiting Doi Suthep on a clear day for optimal views and lighting; visitors should dress respectfully when entering its temple as shorts and bare shoulders are not permitted.