Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Overlooking the city from its mountain throne, Wat Suthep is one of the north's most sacred temples.
The temple was established in 1383 under King Keu Naone and enjoys a mystical birth story. A visiting Sukhothai monk instructed the Lanna king to establish a temple with the twin of a miraculous Buddha relic
(enshrined at Wat Suan Dok). The relic was mounted on a white elephant, which wandered the mountain until it died at this spot, interpreted as the 'chosen' location.
The temple is reached by
a strenuous, 306-step staircase, intended as an act of meditation. (For the less fit, there's a tram for 20B.)
The 1st-floor terrace documents this history of the temple with a shrine to Sudeva,
the hermit who lived on the mountain, and a statue of the white elephant who carried the Buddha relic up the mountain. On the 2nd-floor terrace is the picturesque golden chedi that enshrines the relic; it is topped by a five-tiered umbrella in honour of the
city's independence from Burma and its union with Thailand. Built as a Buddhist monastery in 1383 it is still a working monastery today. Funds raised by donations and the lift fee go to support the monks living there and for
maintenance of the various temple buildings. The architecture, statues, murals and shrines seen here are nothing short of breathtaking.