29 December 2012. Saturday. Past Noon. Chiang Mai, Thailand. After being thrilled like a kid at Chiang Mai Zoo with my very first sighting of pandas and koalas, I thought I was content with my weekend and was ready to go back to my guesthouse and sleep the afternoon away until I saw red taxi cabs that are locally called, songthaews (literally means 10-seater-2-row-cab) in the main road near the exit of the zoo with dispatchers yelling, “Doi Suthep, Doi Suthep!”  There must be some force that compelled me to walk towards them and ride the cab with other 9 passengers to Doi Suthep.

I was certainly clueless that the roads from Chiang Mai Zoo to the said temple are zigzag and uphill (think of Baguio and Antipolo Cities in the Philippines). I only learned after the trip that Doi Suthep is the name of the mountain where the wat is located. That explains everything, your honor! I rest my case. Toinks! 😛

After paying my fare of 40 baht to the old lady who happens to be the wife of the songthaew driver, I was alarmed to see her taking the ride with us on that estribo. I admired her being so carefree but at the same time, I became worried for her being risky at her age. Oh, the things you do to earn a living! With my amusement at her happy character, I asked her permission to be photographed. My heart skipped a beat when she smiled instantly with her chinky eyes and let go of her grip to make a peace sign. I was extremely terrified that she might lose her grip with another hand so I clicked my cam immediately and thanked her.  She stood on the estribo collecting fares from passengers until we reached the mountain and Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep 45 minutes after. If I only knew how to speak Thai, I could have told her to take extra-care and be safe always. She reminded me so much of my late grandmother who took care of me from my childhood years.


Upon alighting from the 10-seater-red-cab, I finally saw the foot of Doi Suthep temple bustling with food and souvenir stalls. I hurried to the information counter and asked how to reach the wat. There are two ways to go up–either to take the 300-plus-step-stairs to the temple for free or faster and time-saving via the inclined cable car or travelator with a 50-baht-two-way-fee. I chose the one with less energy requirement as I was too lazy and tired to climb the stairs after wandering the whole morning at the zoo (lame excuse!).


Expressions of faith at the facade of the temple greeted me. Although I am non-Buddhist, it was very inspiring to witness how people from all walks of life practice their religion and devotion. The spiritual atmosphere was overwhelming!


It was a pleasant surprise to watch cultural performances at the facade of the Wat. Before I brought my feet inside the shrine, I spent almost an hour admiring these young ones dressed in their traditional attires. I’ve seen them in their most candid moments and during their cultural dance performances right in front of the temple.


The traditional Thai music and dances were very impressive! Vibrant colors, soothing Oriental music, exotic moves and burning incense sticks over soft uttering of prayers summed up to an incredible sensory feast!

It was almost 3PM when I decided to go inside the temple. I removed my slippers (yes, I traveled to Chiang Mai from Penang for more than 4D3N with only 1 pair of flip-flops!) and put them on the secluded rack for footwears and walked through the sacred ground barefooted.


Awe-inspiring ambiance inside Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep….


I’ve visited several Buddhist temples back home in the Philippines, in Penang, in Singapore, in Tokyo and in Bangkok but I’ve never walked  barefooted for more than 2 hours under the scorching heat of the sun in my entire 36 years of existence. Walking inside Doi Suthep with nothing on my soles felt very humbling.


Heart-shaped clouds against deep blue skies and the golden chedi of Doi Suthep welcomed me during the visit.

The tourist and the child in me found it so irresistible to take detail shot.

Would you not be inspired with such acts of faith?
Two hours for me were not enough to absorb everything at Doi Suthep. The positivity from the faithfuls, the great view of Chiang Mai from this mountain top, the grandeur of Doi Suthep temple itself are definitely extraordinary!






It was already past 5 in the afternoon when I went out of the temple. I washed my feet and walked my way down via the lift. After buying identical T-shirts for Tina and Gabby from one of the stalls at the foot of the temple, I hopped on the songthaew again to Chiang Mai Zoo and transferred to similar public vehicle that took me back to the city.

Next thing I did was too predictable. Further explanation’s unnecessary.

It was my second time to eat such meal from the same restaurant in Chiang Mai. I must say, I can eat this everyday! It may be simple-looking-all-in-one-dish but I almost forgot my name after finishing the plate. Cheap and sinfully delicious!  #favorite

chiang mai fried rice docgelo

The entire day was physically tiring yet spiritually moving as well. The entire experience from Chiang Mai Zoo to Doi Suthep reminded me what and whom I should cherish in life.  Spontaneous and unplanned trips like this truly bring unexpected and priceless happiness!

*This Chiang Mai Blog Series includes :


  1. Wonderful pics (as usual), Gelo. I went to Chiang Mai with someone and he couldn’t wait to get out of the city after we observed the Yee Peng festival. I would have wanted to see some temples at least but he didn’t want to. Hay naku. That experience only strengthened my love for solo travel! Sayang I didn’t see this temple tuloy 😦

    1. Salamat, Aleah! I would love to go back there and experience Yee Peng festival too with my family but I could only wish for the moment!

      Ganoon yata talaga, other people easily develop an aversion towards exploring places new places, particularly places of worship but I consider it a learning experience that’s a far cry from what we read on geography and travel books, or probably they feel tired immediately compared to us who have itchy feet for traveling.

    1. i think chance really brought me there as i mentioned on this post, i got no plans of going there but it happened.
      so yes, there must be a meaning to it!
      thanks, gracious!

  2. Nice photos. I like the first photo. It’s nice going inside the temple, so much culture and tradition are embedded on the structures/ walls. When i was in Thailand and went inside their famous Grand Palace, i don’t like to go out. And i’m torn between taking pictures and appreciating the architectures and their buddha.

    1. we loved grand palace too and i’m sure my family like me would not mind going back to bangkok when given a chance.
      like you, i don’t feel drowned over temples in a buddhist country like thailand. despite they all seem like similar, there’s always unique feature and something beautiful about each temple; there’s so much positivity inside out. and for a photo-enthusiast like me, i can only be grateful for every picturesque detail.

  3. I just went to a solo trip to vietnam from last week. It was great! I’m also grateful that my husband allowed me to go…More power to you doc gelo 🙂

  4. a visual feast again doc. the people watching photos are superb. am totally envious of your trip. sarap. well at least i get to travel chaing mai through this series, that is the next best thing to being there. thank you for a thorough coverage.

    1. thanks, sheena!
      no, i didn’t use filters in these photos;
      i have not yet attended any workshops in photography, neither i am equipped with much-needed technical skills yet.
      i owe everything to my cam; my dslr works with wonders! 🙂

  5. wasn’t that serendipity to find yourself in such a spiritual place? we may not be Buddhists but seeing the faithful practicing their faith can always be moving – and I’ve felt like how you felt in some other houses of faith – be that a mosque, a temple or a church.

    among the great photos here, it’s that old woman and her infectious smile that is so captivating!

  6. Nice shots very colorful I envy you, I wish I could visit Thailand talaga. The Buddhist temple reminds me of my stay in Japan I have some pics too of different temples syempre mas maganda kuha mas hi tech dslr mo e lol

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