Formerly known as Doi Aoy Chang, Doi Suthep-Pui National Park is named after the mountain where the hermit Sudeva lived on it's slopes for many years. The park is situated in Chiang Mai Province, only few kilometers northwest of Chiang Mai City covering 265 km². Doi Suthep is part of the Thanon Thong Chai Range, most of it's bedrock is granite. The other two peaks are Doi Buak Ha and Doi Pui, the latter one is the highest at 1685 meters.
The main attractions of the park is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep which is build near the peak of Doi Suthep, few waterfalls, viewpoints, caves and the nature. The park is ideal for hiking through many trail options as well as for cycling and camping.
Forests in the park concists of evergreen forest on higher altitudes above 1000 meters and deciduous forest on lower parts with some mixed deciduous-evergreen forest occuring in gullies and along streams. Common trees include oaks, dipterocarps, and trees of the magnolia family. There are nearly 2000 species of ferns and flowering plants, nearly 300 species of birds and number of mammal species.
Common birds found in the national park are white-crested laughingthrush, grey-headed canary-flycatcher, great barbet, blue-throated barbet, grey-capped pygmy woodpecker, grey-chinned minivet, Blyth's shrike-babbler, Yunnan fulvetta and slaty-backed flycatcher.
Due to high altitude the climate is cool and pleasant all year round with average temperatures of 20-23 °C, temperatures may drop to 6 °C during the winter nights around February. August and September are the wettest period of the year with daily rainfall.
Entrance fee for foreigners is 200 THB adults and 100 THB for children, but there could be additional charges for visiting some attractions.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Generally referred as Doi Suthep Temple, it is a Theravada Buddhist temple with holy shrines, pagodas, statues and murals around. The temple is build near the peak of Doi Suthep mountain at 1055 meters above the sea level, 14.5 km from Chiang Mai City Center (Old City). The first chedi is said to have been founded in 14th century as a Buddist monastery and still is a working monastary. It is one of the most sacred sites in the region. Aspects of the temple draw from both Buddhism and Hinduism. A model of the Emerald Buddha and a statue of the Hindu God Ganesha can be found in the temple site.
The temple can be reached from the main road through the national park, accessible by walking 309 steps steep up or by tram for 30B. The way up is flanked by trees and Naga snake figures. All visitors must take off their shoes and dressed appropriately to enter the temple terrace. No shorts allowed and shoulders must be covered, there are clothes available for rent. Opening times are irregular, people seen in the temple from very early in the morning from aroun 5 to 6 am.
Build in 1961, Bhubing Palace is the royal winter residence to accommdate the royal family during their visits to the northern Thailand. The official name of the palace is Phra Tamnak Phu Phing.
The palace is 4 km west of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. There are number of buildings including guesthouses for state visitors from abroad. The palace is open to the public, except when the royal family is in residence. The area is ideal for birdwatching, butterfly watching and has good view over Chiang Mai. Opening times are 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.