Wat Doi Tong Chiang Rai is best accessed by bicycle rather than on foot, as it is a little further out than many of the temples. As the spot where King Mengrai looked out to see where he would build his city, Wat Doi Tong is well worth the visit if you have more than a few days in Chiang Rai – particularly for the views and the 108 city pillars site. The official title is Wat Phrathat Doi Tong.
See other temples of Chiang Rai here.
Above: Guardian Yaksha and Lion Statue, Wat Doi Tong Chiang Rai
Cycling to Wat Doi Tong Chiang Rai – Temple on the Hill
I’d been cycling around most of the day, and it was when I started to ascend to Wat Doi Tong, the temple on the hill, that I realised maybe I’d bitten off more than I could chew! It was roasted hot and I heard a few crashes from the sky. A local fruit vendor gestured to me and then pointed to the sky. I pulled my rain jacket from around my waist and proceeded to put it on. He gave me the thumbs up. The heavens opened as I approached Wat Doi Tong, but I was actually quite thankful of the refreshing down pour.
There are actually two ways to approach the temple. If you are cycling or in a vehicle drive up the slope, but there are naga steps for those of you on foot.
Above: Wat Doi Tong Chiang Rai Naga Steps
Half way up, you will find a smaller Chinese style chapel before you reach Wat Doi Tong itself.
Above: Wat Doi Tong Chinese Temple
Wat Doi Tong – The Dog Temple?
I approached the temple steps and four scruffy mongrels followed behind me. A Labrador told off a chihuahua for approaching the Vihara. Is this supposed to be the dog temple?
The Main Vihara
Inside the temple are several golden Buddha images, paintings of previous kings and turquoise blue pillars.
Statues and views over Chiang Rai from Wat Doi Tong
Walk onto the concrete platform overhang in front of the golden chedi and you will find several important statues including Ganesh, Buddha and King Mengrai.
Ganesh is a predominantly Hindu deity, but revered by Buddhists and respected as a benevolent protector.
King Mengrai (25th king of Ngoenyang 1261–1292 and the first King of the Lanna Kingdom) is the founder of Chiang Rai city.
Chiang Rai City Pillars of Wat Doi Tong
The 108 city pillars mark the place from where King Mangrai looked out and decided to build the city of Chiang Rai. This destination is not to be confused with the Wat Klang Wiang City Pillar which marks the centre of the city itself.
The city pillars of Wat Doi Tong contain a shrine and are regarded as sacred, so do remember to remove your shoes on approach, as you would the temple. The elephants, horses and other statues are beautifully decorated with colourful cloth.
Visiting Chiang Rai?
Where to stay in Chiang Rai – Connect Hostel
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.