Wat Parathat Doi Suthep
High on a hill overlooking Chiang Mai in northern Thailand is Wat Parathat Doi Suthep, the site is the location of a very dramatic temple where many valuable Buddha images are kept.
The site is accessible via taxi or Songthaew, or any of the many travel agents in town will book you a trip for about 500 bht. The arranged tours include pick up and usually a side visit to a Hmong village near the temple; yes, it is a tourist destination – but its not bad and they have some good products for sale.
Wat Parathat Doi Suthep; sometimes ‘spectacular’ just doesn’t cover it…
Just south of Chiang Mai is Doi Inthanon National Park, the mountain (of the same name) is Thailand’s highest point – 2565m above sea level.
Best option for this trip is either taxi (2,000 – 2500 bht) for the day, or organised travel agent trip (about 900 bht). The organised trip will include a side trip to a hill village (probably Karen this time), a visit to the King and Queens’ pagodas and lunch – which was good.
I’m not a fan of organised trips because they usually have a tight schedule and all the picking up and dropping off. However, most trips in Chiang Mai seem to be operated with 10 seater mini buses which lessens the impact.
Chiang Mai Zoo
I always have mixed feelings about zoos, small spaces for wild animals can never be a good thing, but many of the better zoos are re-branding themselves as conservation centres. On the whole I would have to say that I thought some of the spaces small and the animals looked bored, but what do I know…
The big attraction at Chiang Mai is the pandas – they have three and this is one of only 13 zoos worldwide that have pandas. There is a case for pandas in zoos as there are virtually none left in the wild; so without this protected, but very small, population there might be none very soon.
They have a full selection of animals from around the world, see the site here for full details.
You pay an entrance fee, but there are all sorts of extras: the bus, the monorail, the Snowdome (for those that have never seen snow), and of course the pandas.
You also seem to be able to take your vehicle in and drive round – but maybe I got this wrong – however there was fair bit of traffic, which felt completely wrong; attractions like this should be on foot and certainly not in private vehicles, Chiang Mai zoo is nowhere near big enough to be considered a wildlife park.
Getting here is very easy, take a Songthaew or taxi, the zoo is at the out of town end of Huay Kuey Rd, just past the University.