Chiang Mai has an abundance of fun and interesting things to do, but that is a whole other article. Like anywhere it also has a few tourist ‘attractions’ that you’d be well advised not to bother with, these are their stories.
The problem with Doi Suthep is not the temple but leaving. Doi Suthep, as Wat Phra That is commonly known, is probably the most popular tourist attraction in Chiang Mai. It is a large temple complex in the hills of Chiang Mai. It is one of the most sacred pilgrimage places in Buddhism and dates back to the 14th century. It is beautiful and the views are spectacular, as you can see here, but there are a couple of issues that diminish the experience. Firstly, I am as ignorant about the place as I was before I went. If you’re hoping to learn about the temple, its place in Buddhism, or the legend of the White Elephant, read up before you go. There are a few signs around, but all are in Thai. Most disappointing though was the departure from the temple. To get there a red truck will carry you up the winding road for 40BHT per person, but once you’re up there you are at their mercy to get down again. You are herded into the back of a red truck and then shouted at to squish up as they squeeze more and more people in. This process took 30 minutes before the driver was satisfied he could not get any more suckers into the vehicle. Usually eight people are carried in a red truck, the one leaving Doi Suthep carried 13. I understand they are making a living, but I think we’d be happy to pay a few more baht for more room and less bodies. There was clearly an abundance of red trucks, so it was unnecessary to herd like livestock. Thankfully is wasn’t summer, I can’t imagine what it would feel like in 40 degrees. My advice is to enjoy those temples around the city or find transport other than the red truck.
Night Bazaar Markets
Chiang Mai is brimming with markets, but the most famous is the Night bazaar. For this reason it is full of tourist tat at outrageous prices. Don’t bother spending time or money here.
Chiang Mai Zoo
Being a Buddhist country where all living things are held in high regard, I held high hopes for the Zoo. It is located in the hills on the outskirts of the city and is a bit of a walk, which I didn’t mind but I imagine it might be challenging if you had a child or two in tow. Most people either drove their car, or caught the zoo bus, this added an exciting element of danger to the walk. Almost a third of the spaces were empty, those that were populated were a bit sad and sorry, from the Moon bear pacing repeatedly along the concrete wall, to the lonely gibbon and overcrowded Flamingos. The most positive thing I can say is that the 200-acre grounds make it a good place to get your steps up.