For our first day we went to Doi Suthep. We walked around and hired a red taxi (songthaew) who priced it at THB 600 going up and going down. I managed to consult someone how much a taxi is and I was told it will be THB 300 one way, so THB 600 is a very fair price.
You go through a long winding road up, getting colder and colder. There’s lots of trees. We had a really quick stop-over somewhere that allowed us to have an aerial view of Chiang Mai, which was amazing and then we drove some more. I think the whole ride took almost an hour.
To actually get to the temple, you have to climb up the stairs or take a cable car. Unfortunately we couldn’t find the cable car to get up so I had no choice but to climb up the 300 steps. I honestly thought I won’t be able to make it up there!
Legend says that Doi Suthep was built on the very site where an elephant carrying a relic belonging to Buddha died. It’s such a majestic and extravagant temple. There were a lot of people inside. We were there almost lunch time but thanks to the great weather, it wasn’t scorching.
Going around the temple took quite a while. It’s a vast area and there’s plenty to see. You need to make as much time too, because you’d remember the rigorous effort going up!
After Doi Suthep, we went to Thae Pae gate and looked for a place to have lunch. Since it rained a little bit up, I was so surprised how it was so sunny when we get down! Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of Thae Pae gate as there were so many pigeons and birds scare me.
We didn’t eat anything for breakfast so we were famished. We walked around to find a place to eat at because we planned on going to some local hole-in-the-wall, but we ended up in this small cafe right by the gate. I forgot what it was called but it was a small cafe that sells breakfast food all day and they have Western and Thai choices.
After that, we walked around a bit and went to Boots to purchase some of those Poy Sian inhalers that my coworkers love. It’s a famous Thailand souvenir. One that I’ve gotten even back when I was working in Shell.
Tips in going to Doi Suthep:
- Wear appropriate clothing. When you go around the temple, you won’t need to wear any cover-ups but if you want to see the Golden Mount, you have to go inside and leave your shoes outside. You won’t be able to go inside without proper attire. Just make sure it covers the knees and shoulders.
- Bring water. The climb going up can be really difficult. A lot of people are also climbing and going down, and of course you can definitely take it on your own pace. My companion didn’t seem to have any problem going all the way up while I was already getting dizzy.
- Entrance fee to the temple for foreigners is THB 30. When we got at the top, there’s a sign there for admission. However, I didn’t see any ticket control when you enter or exit but just pay to be on the safe side!
- Come early – especially if it’s a hot day. We got there almost 11:30 AM. It’s a cold day so it wasn’t hot, but I can just imagine how hot it’s going to be if it was a sunny day. Expect a lot of people too. Tours and just people visiting. It can get a bit overwhelming so best to come in the morning.
- You can ride red taxis going back down to the city for about THB 40. I did my research on how to save going to Doi Suthep but ended up just hiring my own private driver because of convenience. However, I’m not sure where to find a red taxi going up, but going down there are a lot of red taxis lined up waiting for passengers. They already listed down known places and the amount you have to pay to get there. The red taxis/songthaews are these converted pick-up trucks that go around the city. It’s really not hard to spot them. They’re everywhere, they have a sign, and they’re red.
- If you’re going to hire a red taxi, I would say THB 600 is a decent price. You can find a red taxi anywhere and just tell them you want to go there and they’ll give you the price. The fare is already the full cost, so you just have to divide it amongst yourselves.
- Bring a map! My experience is that they don’t speak English that much and can only understand a little. However the people are really friendly. Most of our communication was pointing at where we wanted to go on the map and they will write down the price on a piece of paper.