I think I might get some flack for writing this. All of the things I have ever read of Wat Doi Suthep have been glowing reviews. A beautiful Wat in a spectacular setting, the ‘must do’ Wat in Chiang Mai.
We have a view of Doi Suthep from our apartment window, it sits atop a jungle mountain and at night we can see it lit up, glowing in the night sky. It is one of the most important religious spots in Chiang Mai, a city that is overflowing with Wats.
I was really excited to go and see Wat Doi Suthep for myself. And it was beautiful. The golden stupa reaching up to the sky, the many, many images of Buddha, the devote making offerings and praying, the mountain top setting….even the 300 stairs from the parking lot to the temple were stunning and not as hard to climb as I had imagined.
The view from the top could have been spectacular if not for all of the pollution. The valley of Chiang Mai seems to be continually socked in with haze. We tried to find our apartment and settled for finding a bigger one that we can see from our apartment window.
Wat Doi Suthep was beautiful……but…..
I didn’t think it was any more beautiful than any of the other Wats in Chiang Mai city.
There were SO many people there it made my head spin.
Every where we looked there was someone trying to sell us something. Tourist shops lined the stairs at the bottom, women with their woven bracelets sat on the sidelines on the way up, even inside the grounds a man came up to Mike trying to sell a weight loss program!!!
There were coffee shops and convenience stores IN the Wat compound. Not something we have ever come across before.
Foreigners were charged an entrance fee of 30 baht each. It is not much money but we have been to many, many wats in Chiang Mai and this was the first one we had to pay for.
The tourist trappiness of it all was very off-putting for us. We are still glad we went and we did enjoy our visit there but for us it did not live up to its expectations.