Visiting Wat Doi Suthep during Songkran in Chiang Mai (Thai New Year) was one of the most spiritual experiences I had in Thailand, but it was also the most surreal, seeing pilgrims pray with their super soakers on their backs! My visit to Wat Doi Suthep ended with a fall down the Naga stairs that resulted in my sprained ankle! Well, you gotta take the rough with the smooth! 😉
Wat Doi Suthep – The Spiritual Pilgrimage of Chiang Mai
Wat Doi Suthep is one of the most spiritual places in Thailand, along with Wat Pho (Bangkok), Doi Inthanon and the temple caves of Krabi.
Buddhist Worship at Wat Doi Suthep
Remember that Wat Doi Suthep is a very holy place where many Buddhist pilgrims visit. Legend has it that a fragment of bone of the Buddha was placed on an elephant and the temple was built on the site where he died. A site was dug to contain the relic, and the Chedi (stupa) was built on top.
Remember to remove your shoes before entering the temple. You are welcome to go into the shrines and Viharas (prayer halls) but sit silently and do not point your feet at Buddha as it is extremely disrespectful.
Inside the main temple, many Buddhists will be praying to Buddha, lighting incense and giving offerings.
They also ring the bells softly to let ‘heaven’ know that they paid a visit.
Circling the Chedi
Buddhists circle the Chedi three times in a clockwise direction holding a lotus flower to show respect for the relics of the Chedi and as a form of worship.
Exploring the Temple Complex
Doi Suthep is not one temple or shrine but many dotted around the temple complex. The views are stunning. Make sure that you walk around the external temple building to discover further treasures and shrines.
Explore the Temple Grounds
What Doi Suthep is a temple complex, rather than just one temple, as many in Thailand usually are. Walk around to the side and back of the temple and you will find many other Buddhas, outdoor shrines and smaller temple buildings.
What to wear when Visiting Temples in Thailand
What should you wear when visiting temples in Thailand? Dress conservatively when visiting temples in Thailand. Wear trousers or a long skirt and cover shoulders.
A scarf is a good thing to have handy in Thailand as you can use it to cover yourself if you are wearing a vest top or maxi dress. Men should avoid shorts and wear t-shirts or a smart-casual shirt.
You will need to remove your shoes before going up the temple steps so wear some comfortable sandals or shoes that you can slip on and off. Birkenstocks are a good option.