Doi Suthep and Bhubing Palace

Our first day in Chiang Mai we visited Doi Suthep – one of the north’s most sacred temples—and Phuping Palace – the royal winter residence. Both are located outside the city about a 45 minute drive.

The temple was established in 1383 under King Keu Naone and enjoys a mystical birth story. A visiting monk instructed the Lanna king to establish a temple with the twin of a miraculous Buddha relic. 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 306-step staircase, intended as an act of meditation.
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 honor of the city’s independence from Burma and its union with Thailand.



Bhubing Palace was built in 1961 to accommodate the royal family during state visits to the north of the country. There is also a guesthouse for receiving foreign dignitaries. It is built in the mountains overlooking Chiang Mai, to take advantage of the cool mountain air. We were not able to see the palace itself because it is closed January-April when the family may be there, but the grounds were beautiful. The flowers were especially bountiful. The large reservoir with fountains has music composed by the king broadcasted across the water. There are three log cabins built of eucalyptus wood among the trees.


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