I’m not much of a temple guy. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a good temple, I do, and I often like to visit and watch the crowd. It’s very different how the Thai’s worship, if that’s the proper word and it can be quite beautiful.
I’m in Chiang Mai and the city’s temple, or maybe the regions temple, where all come to pay their respects is Doi Suthep. It’s a huge temple complex on the hills above Chiang Mai City, and I’m lucky enough to see it every day from my window and as I drive around the city.
When you visit Doi Suthep it can really get busy, not only with Thai’s but with foreigners as well. Doi Suthep is a huge tourist attraction, which is OK. The Thai’s don’t seem to mind sharing their religious sites with foreigners. That’s one of the things that makes Thailand special. The Thai’s are very open and accepting.
This is not a secret, and I’m not letting you in on anything special–but if you want to get away from the crowds and visit an equally impressive temple give Wat Phra That Doi Kham a try. It’s also on the hill that surrounds the city and it has a great view of the countryside and the city of Chiang Mai and in my opinion a much better view.
…The large seated Buddha image of Wat Phra That Doi Kham is visible from far, being located on the foothills of the mountains south of Chiang Mai. The ancient chedi of the temple had been built in the Buddhist Year 1230 B.E. containing a hair of Lord Buddha. However the ancient chedi had collapsed during the rainy season in 2509 BE (note 2008 A.D. equals the Buddhist year of 2551) In the extensive history of the temple described in an available booklet, this pagoda here is being mentioned as the “sister-pagoda” of Phra That Doi Suthep to the north. Besides the 17m tall Phra Buddha Napeesipinkarat Buddha image there are some beautiful statues inside the small Ubosot in front of the Chedi. The location here also offers a great view into the Chiang Mai valley below…
The temple is located past the airport on the road that takes you to the Nigh Safari. Just follow the signs and when you get to the roundabout take the road on your right. You can’t miss the sign, and once you’re on the road it heads up the steep hill. You’ll need transport, so rent a motorbike, pushbike, or take a taxi. It’s not very popular with tourists so that might be your only choices. You may inquire in Chiang Mai city and take one of the tours, but I haven’t found much information about this, since everyone seems to go up to Doi Suthep…
Which makes Wat Phra That Doi Kham harder to get to, but if you can make it there it’s the ‘other’ temple, different then its sister temple on the hill, and worth the trip. There’s no fee to get it, and it’s smaller, so put on a good pair of walking shoes and give it a try.