Wat Phra That Doi Suthep - Thailand's Sacred Temple

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

The Chiang Mai province of Thailand is full of temples. Some of them are new while some are old. Some have great historic values, while others are having a unique sense of modern art and beauty. Similarly, while talking about a historic temple of Chiang Mai, no one could forget the legendary temple called Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

Located in northern Thailand, it is the most sacred temple of Thailand. Thai people have regarded this temple for many centuries due to the legends and myths that have been made up around it. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep was constructed in the 14th century and is considered one of Thailand’s ancient temples.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is one of a kind temple that no one should miss. It is also a famous saying in Thailand that if you have not seen Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, you have not completely explored Chiang Mai. At night, due to its altitude, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep looks like the brightest star laminating its light upon the whole town. Annually, many foreign and local people visit the temple of Doi Suthep and experience the beauty of this exquisite temple through their eyes.


Wat Phra That Doi Suthep



Being in the western district of Chiang Mai city, Doi Suthep was named after the neighbouring mountain of Suthep. As the name suggests, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep means a temple on the mountainside. While the neighbouring mountains have been labelled under the Doi Suthep National Park, and the temple is also a part of this park.

The construction of the temple started in 1386 that will be discussed in detail. However, it is important to mention that it is a famous myth that the temple of Doi Suthep was built on a piece of a shoulder bone and that shoulder bone is associated with Buddha.

Legend of the White Elephant

According to this legend, it is supposed that a monk had possession of a holy relic that had magical powers. That relic was believed to be the bone of Buddha’s shoulder. The monk delivered the relic to the ruler of the Lanna Dynasty, King Kuena. On the consent of the King, the bone was split into two pieces. One-piece was protected in Wat Suan Dok, while the other piece of bone was placed on a sacred elephant of white colour.

After placing the bone, the white elephant was set free. The elephant went to the mountain of Doi Suthep, and after taking a few steps, he died. This was taken as a symbol of accession and, in 1368, the construction for Wat Phra That Doi Suthep started. At the top of long stairs, a statue of the white elephant has been erected that defines the temple's place.


White Elephant Statue at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep


Various Structures on Temple's Grounds

Some various buildings and structures contribute to the beauty of Wat Phra That Doin Suthep. For monks, there are residing quarters. A few historic and holy relics in a compact museum and various sculptures of mysterious figures and animals are the tradition of Thailand's temples.

Center of Samatha or Vipassana Meditation

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is more than an ordinary temple. It is also a centre for meditation where foreign people and Thai natives are welcomed to learn and practice meditation as it is home to monks. Different meditations are taught in the temple. It could be either Vipassana or Samatha.


Practice Meditation


Going to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

There are various ways through which anyone could get to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Options like renting a car, hiring a cab, motorcycle or scooter are open to every visitor. One could also hike to the temple. Rides are also given in red songthaew (red trucks) that act like cabs in Chiang Mai. You could also plan your trip through touring centres.