The incomparable Doi Suthep temple (Wat Phra That Doi Suthep).
The Doi Suthep bike climb is exceptional for its finish, or, more accurately, what is located at the finish. At the end (not the top -- you can ride another eight kilometers to the top) is the outstanding Doi Suthep temple.
This is a pleasant and mild climb that begins at the Kruba Srivichai Monument in Su Thep. The climb is 10.7 kilometers, gaining 640 meters at 6% average grade.
Kruba Srivichai Monument.
11 kilometers to the temple.
Entrance to Doi Suthep temple.
Most of our PJAMM cycling trips have been self-guided and self-supported. However, our friend from Santa Rosa, Lulu Wong, had participated in a Chiang Mai Backroads bicycle tour and knew we had always planned on cycling Doi Inthanon near Chiang Mai. Lulu had an excellent Thai Backroads tour leader, Ghing (email@example.com) and put me in touch with him for the trip we planned for May 2019. Ghing was the best guide you could ever hope for -- a Chiang Mai native himself, he is extremely knowledgeable in the history and culture of Thailand, spoke excellent English, and knew the area like the back of his hand. He is THE BEST guide you could ever hope for.
Left to right - Ghing, John, Mitch, Javier.
Ghing’s fees were extremely reasonable and he was an invaluable source of knowledge regarding Doi Inthanon, Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Buddhism, and the Thai culture in general. We highly recommend Ghing as a guide and you may contact him via his email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or via me (email@example.com), as I fully support and endorse Ghing as a guide for any bike, hike, or general touring around Chiang Mai.
DOI SUTHEP TEMPLE
This climb ends at one of the most holy locations in Thailand, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Ghing features the Doi Suthep temple on his Backroads tours and also grew up with the temple being a focal point for his family -- his father was one of thousands of Thai laborers who volunteered to hand build a road to Doi Suthep in 1935.
Sitting atop the Doi Suthep mountain, about 15 kilometers from Chiang Mai, the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is one of Thailand’s most sacred temples. From the temple’s grounds, impressive views of Thailand’s great city, Chiang Mai can be seen. The legend surrounding the temple’s founding varies, but the general story is as follows: After seeing it in a vision, monk named Sumanathera found a relic that had magical powers, among which were its ability to glow, replicate itself, and disappear. In 1383, King Keu Naone heard of this relic, which turned out to be a bone shard, said to be from the shoulder of the Buddha. The king summoned Sumanathera to bring the bone to him. At the base of Doi Suthep, the piece of bone broke in two and one piece was enshrined at another temple, Wat Suan Dok. The second piece went on the back of a scared white elephant who wandered the jungle until he stopped at the top of Doi Suthep, trumpeted three times, and died, at which point he had thus selected the spot where Wat Phra That Doi Suthep would be founded. Atop the 309 steps leading to the temple can be found a statue of this white elephant, along with small shrines and other monuments (Lonely Planet, Wikipedia).
Interestingly, the temple’s name actually explains the existence of the temple: Wat means “temple,” Phra suggests an honorific Buddha image, That means “relic,” and of course Doi Suthep means Mount Suthep. Thus, the name literally suggests that there is a sacred Buddha relic housed in the sanctity of this temple. The shoulder bone relic can be found in “the rounded portion of the Chedi [a dome-shaped structure within a Buddhist shrine] right above the octagonal redented section below the ringed section” (Wikipedia).
Naga guard the entrance to Doi Suthep Wat.
There are 309 steps to the temple.
Originating in Hindu mythology, naga are protectors of the temple, and are depicted as serpents or snakes.
PJAMM is blessed -- literally by the monk, and figuratively just to be here.
Doi Suthep is a mystical place . . .
PJAMM’S MAY, 2019 ASIA TRIP
Landing in Chiang Mai at sunset May 9, 2019.
Welcome to Thailand!
We LOVE Thailand, and having the greatest guide any cyclists travelling to a foreign country could ever hope for didn’t hurt either!
Doi (meaning mountain in Thai) Inthanon was the middle climb of our whirlwind sweep through Asia – our first stop was Mt. Fuji, Japan (climbing the four routes), then on to the second stop at Doi Inthanon (with Doi Suthep and Doi Pui as a Thailand bonus) and finishing with Wuling Pass, Taiwan (climbing three routes to the summit).
PJAMM’s May 2019 Asian Bike Climb Itinerary.
Mt. Fuji, Japan (four routes -- May 4-5, 2019).
Wuling Pass, Taiwan (three routes -- May 11-12, 2019).