Doi Suthep – Beautiful Mountain Temple or Tourist Trap?

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.








DSCN5293 DSCN5291We loved all of the bells and gongs that surrounded the temple, and you should have seen the wild excitement in our children’s eyes when we told them they could ring them!

DSCN5258 DSCN5240

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.

Hazy view.

Hazy view.


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.


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1 comment

  1. Renee D'Antoni says:


    I have a photo of my daughter at the bottom of those steps when she was three or four. She’s standing next to two of the most jaded, cynical, costumed hill-tribe 5-yr-olds you’ve ever seen. Their mother thrust them into the photo hoping for a tip.

    Doi Suthep is beautiful, but as you say, there are SO many wats and amazing sights in Chiang Mai and the rest of Thailand, why bother with all the tourist-trappy stuff?

    Happy new year, Amy. I’m so glad everything came together for you in 2012. 🙂

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