Chaing Mai is a fascinating historical city that is filled with many temples and religious sites. The most grand and sacred temple of all is the Wat Phra That in the Doi Suthep mountains. Built as a Buddhist monastery in 1396. the Wat Phra That temple is an impressive gold structure flanked by statues of elephants, dragons, serpents and other sacred relics that are nothing short of breathtaking. Located just 15 minutes from Chiang Mai, the Wat Phra That is still operating as a monastery and meditation centre and is also said to house a piece of bone from Buddha's shoulder.
On arrival at Wat Phra That a giant staircase with intricately carved mythical creatures will lead you up towards the temple complex. The staircase itself is a beautiful sight, so be sure to pack your camera and take your time making your way up the stairs. If you do not wish to climb the 300 steps to the top, there is a funicular style cable car available. On reaching the top, you will be greeted with an incredible view of the golden spire and white elephant that decorates the centre of the temple. Around this you will find many other spectacular monuments and be able to take in the stunning Thai architecture that surrounds the you.
Wat Phra Temple is open from 6:00am until 6:00pm daily. Enry is 50 THB per person and the funds raised from tourist donations go to support the maintenance of the temple as well as the monks who live there. As the temple is a place of deep religious significance, dress needs to be respectable and modest meaning shoulders and knees are to be covered. If you happen to forget, there are wraps available if needed. You will also need to remove footwear before entering the temple.