A quick guide to Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai

Doi Suthep

If you happen to be in Thailand, you might have heard from locals, guides, and frequent visitors suggesting to visit Doi Suthep at any cost, and rightfully so. Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai is a stunning place to be; visiting it solely will justify the total expense for sure; the scenic beauty is breathtaking, the sacredness of the place fosters peacefulness, and the symbols, artifacts, statues, and more tells about the rich history of Thailand.

So what is Doi Suthep?

Doi Suthep is a park in Chiang Mai, Thailand, made up of 3 mountains, a large area of the forest, and has numerous attraction points in that area, from temples to wildlife, scenic beauty shops, and more.

In 1981 Doi Suthep, along with Doi Pui and Doi Buakha, the other two mountains, and the land of forest stretching almost 62 square miles became the 24th national park of Thailand. The popularity of this part grew so much that it got a high frequency of frequent visitors, hence just after a year of the establishment of the park, 38 square miles was further added.

The highest peak of this park is Doi Pui, the eighth largest mountain in Thailand, which provides a stunning view of waterfalls; the popular ones are Mae Sa Fall and Monthathan Fall. Other than waterfall, this park/forest is home to many extraordinary wildlife creatures of different sizes, nature, and rare ones too. Crocodile Salander is one of the rarest animals found in only four places in Thailand, one of them being Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai. Moreover, the place has a cave, a nature trail, and numerous other activities and sights worth seeing.

In fact, the park also shows a glimpse of the authentic traditional way of Thai people in small Hilltribe villages on the park grounds, which has barely changed over such a long time period.

The park is an exceptional attraction point that fosters an enjoyable feeling; other than the places, the cool temperature also plays a crucial role, the elevation (high altitude) itself elevates the experience tremendously.

So before making this article overwhelming, here is the breakdown of some of the attraction points in Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai that are worth visiting, that will make the Thailand trip memorable and make you a top place to visit over and over.


Chiang Mai city from viewpoint on Doi Suthep


The attractions of Doi Suthep


Theravada Buddhist temple that is commonly referred to as Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is situated on the Doi Suthep mountain, from where its name came from. This sacred site is cherished, honored, and cared deeply for by the local Thai people and Buddhist people who come here for either visit, pilgrimage, sightseeing, or more. (During Pilgrimage or the Buddhist holidays of Makha Bucha and Visakha Bucha, there is a massive increase in traffic)

This mountain temple is not just a spiritual place but holds historical and cultural importance too; it is the embodiment of the Lanna, the northern Thai culture. The temple is one of the oldest establishments of Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, which dates back to 1382, making it almost seven hundred years old.

There is also a famous legend surrounding the founding of the temple, a quintessential Thai myth that gravitates visitors. Other than that, the temple offers a meditation course at the International Buddhism Center located on the temple grounds, that many people come from various parts of the world to take and get their chakras to align to foster serenity within themselves and facilitate the state of spirituality.

The temple is crowned by a massive monument known as the Chedi, which is 79 feet tall and gold plated. Other than the artifacts, the exterior, interior, and the sacredness of this holy place, it offers something else. From the temple of Doi Suthep, the whole northwestern of the city is clearly visible, and along with sights within the temple, the pathway to the temple, with dense evergreen forest covering the area, makes going to this place a wholesome experience.


Wat Phra That Doi Suthep



Other than the temple, Doi Suthep homes the popular prestigious Palatial Bhubing Palace. It a vacation home of the Royal Family of Thailand, which is not only an attraction point but a guest house too. With a stunning interior and grand exterior, this exquisite palace often operates as a guest house for foreign dignitaries when it is not serving the Royals. Built in 1961, the very first guests of this Palace were the King and Queen of Denmark.


Bhubing Palace



The park is spread out to 100 square kilometers, which means it homes numerous restaurants and shops that are established to facilitate the visitors and provide a quick break from the exceptions of the park. These restaurants, shops, and centers are spread all around the premise of the parks; however, many are found near the temple of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Visitors can purchase souvenirs and knick-knacks from various shops; in fact, the Hilltribe villages offer traditional clothing and handicrafts items too for sale.

There are many housing options to accommodate tourists who wish to stay overnight. There is a wide range of accommodations available here, ranging from rice to style; they include small huts, bungalows, hotels, motels, and more.


Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai may be the most aesthetically pleasing and peaceful place in all of Thailand. The natural beauty of this Park is refreshing, fascinating, and calming. Since it is 5528 feet high, the temperature is mostly cool and pleasant, which makes touring the whole region easy and eventful, whether it's day or night.

As for the landscape, it is to die for; though the park and all its attractions are situated at an elevation, reaching it is relatively easy. The roads are smooth great for hiking or taking a bike, or any other commute. The tropical forests run all around the area, and the streams, waterfall, wildlife adds to the scenic beauty of the place.


In Doi Suthep, there are numerous waterfalls and glistening pools that are easily accessible. They are scattered all around the 100 square kilometer area of the park, which makes it less crowded and easily enjoyable. The most popular waterfall is the 'Huay Kaew falls,' which is located near the entrance of the park; it is the best place for a picnic, cliff jumping, or just a quick dip. It also sets the mood and gives a glimpse of the wonders this Park holds.

Another popular waterfall is 'the Monthathan waterfall,' which can be found near the Buddhist temple. It is another great sot picnic, but not so great for cliff jumping as it flows down over nine tiers.


Waterfall in Doi Suthep


Doi Suthep Flora

The park is a protected area of Flora; the flourishing ecosystem of the Doi Suthep park/forest is evergreen, fresh and is a place for fauna and habitat. These forests can easily be spotted in gullies and along the streams of the Park. The common trees that can be found here are dipterocarps, oaks, and trees from the magnolia family. Within the trees, there are countless flowers from different types, colors, and fragrances found peeking through, adding to the scenic beauty of the area and making it more bright and vibrant.

Divided into two types, the 'Decidous Forest is located up to 900-1,000 meters above sea level, while 'Montane Evergreen Forests' start from 900-1,000 meters above sea level.

There are many trees and plants within the forest that are used by people of the Hmong village of Doi Pui, who are settled within the premise of the Park. Various plants are used by them for numerous different purposes from food, to animal feed to medication and more.


Village and Forest in Doi Suthep


Doi Suthep Fauna

An integral part of the forest is its wildlife; there are over three to four hundred species that can be found within the boundaries of the forest region of the park. Doi Suthep offers a surreal remarkable bird-watching experience, other than those monkeys can be easily spotted running and mischieving around the forest. There are also other rare creatures such as Crocodile Salamander; at night, there is a wild tramp trail of varieties of bats that fill up the sky. The forest within the park is home to many creatures; Mammals, Invertebrates, Birds, Reptiles, and amphibians.


Bird in Doi Suthep


How and When to go to Doi Suthep

There are more attraction points in Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai than listed in these articles because frankly, if we start mentioning each and every recreational activity available here, the list can get quite long, quite quickly. But we are sure you get the gist that taking time out to visit Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai is one of the best ideas, if not THE BEST.

However, though touring the place is a good idea, it may not be a wise decision to explore the place on your own, especially for first-timers. Though many people prefer to do it on their own, as it is liberating for them, they rent out a 100 cc motorbike, get a map in one hand, and set out to explore the wonder of the Doi Suthep area/park.

Those who are not daring or may require some assistance to make the most of their trip, hire a local guide or best can take 'Song Thaews' (red taxis), the drivers help with the navigations and provide full-fledged tourism (if asked/if offered). Usually, these taxis accommodate six people, but they can be hired as private transport.

Reaching the National Park entrance is very easy; all is required is to get a commute that will take you to the park from where you can rent/hire your desired in-house commute. The park is roughly 15 kilometers away from the city center, and it takes about 20 minutes to reach.

Though entering the park is free, adhering to the recreational activities cost; some waterfalls cost 300 Baht, such as the Monthathan waterfall. Even the temple that opens from 6 am to 8 pm every day asks for 50 Baht admission (includes a two-way ticket on the tram). People who prefer to walk up the stairs; for them, the admission amount is 30 Baht.

As far as the temperature is concerned, the climate is cool and pleasant all year round. In the summer season, April to June, the average temperatures range from 20˚C to 23˚C, while in the winter season, from mid-December to late March, the temperature can go to 6˚C. Doi Suthep also experiences rainfall during the wet season, which is usually from mid-July to mid-November. However, no matter what time you plan to visit Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, the blissfulness of the area is not compromised.

So for your next trip to Thailand or probably the first time, don't forget to include Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai as a must-visit place. Visiting this place will not only be eventful, refreshing, peaceful but memorable. Every Baht, every second, every step spend here will be cherished forever, guaranteed!