I'm a freelance writer and yogi living in Tepoztlan, Mexico where I'm running www.casadelcorazon.mx with my girlfriend. You can keep up with my other writing on www.bollocks2thewellingtons.com/
Published October 9th 2012
Get out of the city and up the hill for some temple action
Doi Suthep National Park is just a short drive, 15km out of Chiang Mai city centre but it offers fresh air and countryside, which is very welcome after a few days in the city (as green as it is.)
You can easily get a taxi or local Song-Theaw (the red pick up trucks) to take you up here but we decided to take the fun route and hire a scooter to drive up.
It is a windy road once you get past the Chiang Mai university and it climbs steadily as you pass waterfalls and viewpoints showing increasingly impressive vistas of the city below and jungle around.
We stopped at a couple of these but our first goal was Wat Phra that Doi Suthep, the beautiful temple with the large golden chedi pictured above. The temple is said to have been built in the 14th century when King Dharmmaraja inaugurated the site with a relic. It costs 30 Baht for foreigners to enter, collected at the top of some steep steps lined each side by fearsome looking Nagas. Once inside the temple, modestly dressed visitors will enjoy some beautiful Buddha images and have the opportunity to be blessed by the monks that live there.
We carried on past the temple into the hills and past the Phu Ping Palace towards a couple of Hmong hill tribe villages.
Doi Pui, the first one you come to has turned into a tourist site, its paths lined with shops selling handicrafts and a museum giving some information about the various minority tribes in this region. It also has a couple of small waterfalls and beautiful manicured gardens which are worth a visit for the nice view.
More adventurous and interesting is Kun Chang Kiang Mong village which is past a beautiful campsite and down a rather narrow and slippery track several kilometres further along. It isn't quite mud huts rusticity but people there are still working with bamboo and making things from what is at hand and it does seem much more authentic.