14 April 2008
The classic Chiang Mai experience is a morning hike on this 5,498-foot peak that overlooks the city. Many residents consider Doi Suthep a holy mountain, and hike it as often as they can. Head to the base of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, a Buddhist temple that, according to legend, dates from the 14th century, and is topped by a glittering gold chedi. On a clear day, the temple’s terraces afford views across northern Thailand. You’ll see Thailand old and new: monks in sandals begging for rice and young couples smooching in the corner (a taboo among older, more conservative Thais). If you’re up to it, climb the 300-step Naga staircase to the top, but rebuilt cable cars are a less strenuous option.