Uncovering the Hidden Gems of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep: A Traveler’s Guide to Northern Thailand’s Must-See Temple

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, located in the mountains of northern Thailand, is a hidden gem that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. The temple, which dates back to the 14th century, is a stunning example of Thai architecture and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

The temple’s history

The temple’s history is steeped in legend. According to local folklore, a monk named Sumanathera was tasked with finding a suitable location for a temple. After searching for many years, he was led to Doi Suthep by a white elephant, which is said to have died on the spot where the temple now stands.

The temple was built in the 14th century by King Kuena and was later expanded by King Samfangkaen. Today, it is one of the most important religious sites in northern Thailand and is visited by thousands of people every year.

The temple’s architecture

The temple’s architecture is a mix of Thai and Burmese styles, with intricate carvings and gilded stupas. The main temple building is adorned with gold leaf and is home to a statue of the Buddha. The temple also features a large chedi (stupa) that is said to contain relics of the Buddha.

One of the most striking features of the temple is the Naga staircase, which is a long, winding staircase that leads to the temple’s main entrance. The staircase is flanked by statues of Nagas (snake-like creatures in Buddhist mythology) and offers impressive views of the temple and the surrounding countryside.

The temple’s location

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is located on a mountain overlooking the city of Chiang Mai. It can be reached by car or by taking a songthaew (a converted pickup truck) from the city. The journey to the temple takes about 45 minutes by car and is a winding road with views of the mountains and the valley.

The temple’s surroundings

The temple’s surroundings are equally impressive. The temple is surrounded by lush forest and offers great hiking opportunities. Visitors can hike to the summit of Doi Suthep and enjoy the panoramic views from the top. The temple also has a number of smaller temples and shrines nearby that are worth visiting.

Tips for travelers

  • Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking and climbing involved.
  • Dress modestly (shoulders and knees should be covered) out of respect for the temple’s religious significance.
  • Bring water and snacks as there are no food vendors at the temple.
  • Avoid visiting on weekends and public holidays as the temple can get very crowded.
  • Take a guided tour to learn more about the temple’s history and architecture.


Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a must-see destination for any traveler visiting northern Thailand. The temple’s history, architecture, and location make it a truly unique and unforgettable experience. With its beautiful mountain views and rich cultural heritage, it’s the perfect destination for those looking to get off the beaten track and discover the hidden gems of Thailand. So don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity and plan your trip to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep today!