With Thailand being a mainly Buddhist country, it’s no surprise that Chiang Mai had it’s fair share of intricately designed and gilded temples or wats as they are known in Thailand/Cambodia/Laos.
What did surprise me was how many there really were. While walking through the city it felt rare to go more than a few blocks before coming across another temple. Although I imagine foreign visitors to Texas would also be surprised by the number of churches within a mile radius in big cities like Houston.
There are so many temples in Chiang Mai and I was able to walk through a few during my afternoons exploring the old city.
One of the most popular wats in Chiang Mai is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Located on top of a mountain, Doi Suthep, the temple towers over Chiang Mai and is a big tourist destination.
Although the temple grounds were elaborately decorated and beautiful, I was not as “in awe” as I had hoped I would be. Granted I don’t have any Buddhist religious affiliations, so I didn’t share a religious connection with Doi Suthep, the grounds felt very commercialized.
All along the walk up to the main temple area there are vendors lining the entire path selling souvenirs and snacks. For what is meant to be a religious venue, I felt the endless rows of vendors catering to tourists took away from this special area.
Nevertheless, I climbed the hundreds of steps up to the main part of the wat to take in the view and I will admit that it is a beautiful temple.