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Doi Suthep-Pui National Park Exploration

It was nearly 6 to 7 years ago I brought my family oversea for vacation, hence I guess it is time to make another new memory. After making some consideration in term of travel with elders and cost, we finalize our plan with a trip to Chiang Mai! As usual, I handle all the itinerary planning for the trip and hopefully my family members able to cope to it well.

However, the decision to take the flight from Hatyai wasn't really comfortable for the elders as the border crossing experience at Padang Besar after travelling over by train, was truly too bad. We have to queue over the custom for nearly few hours and I knew it was tough for them. Furthermore, we need to wait for quite some time at airport before depart on our flight to Chiang Mai. Economically, this was a good option, but if I have to decide again, it was better to take flight considering the efficiency of land border between Thailand and Malaysia really really disappointing. They deserved a dramatic reformation to improve their efficiency, especially the officers from Thailand side.

Luckily the car rental process with Chic Car Rent went quite smooth, I manage to send my family to check in to our home stay booked from AIRBNB It was such a great deal with good price as well as strategic location inside the old city, with only down side was no car park to park my Toyota Fortuner. The owner have another property not too far away and he brought me over to park the car there and have a walk back, which was only 10 minutes walk away. Wasn't too bad at all. We have a quick dinner at famous Cowgirl pork leg rice near to north gate of the old city by local public transport, songthaew, before call it a quick day for a rest before planned activity the next day.

Waiting for our train to Padang Besar at Bukit Mertajam train station.

Asking them to take a rest but everyone seem so energetic.

Queuing on Malaysian side border.

The queue kinda acceptable here, the nightmare was the queue on the Thailand border side....

I wake up earlier the next day, hoping everyone having a great rest throughout the night and luckily all of them look energetic. I walk over to drive the car over to pick them up at a junction close to our home stay, before departing for to a cafe inside old city, Fahtara Coffee for a delightful breakfast after a hectic travel a day earlier.

We were the first customers to reach the Cafe, and was greeted politely by the waitress on shift. The cafe consists of both indoor seating and outdoor as well at the back, and the scenery outside offered very natural feeling, combining with pleasure weather make it a simple choice for us. I always knew that coffee in Chiang Mai was superb almost everywhere hence the expectation was quite high when they serve me my Latte, and it does not disappointed at all! Beside, the food was also great especially the salad with tamarind sauce. The time spend enjoying the breakfast comfortably here was absolutely perfect way to start a day.

This two kids never keep their phone away.

A windmill turbine on the backyard of Fahtara Coffee.

The exterior design on the backyard space.

An antic movie projector.

The main entrance into Fahtara Coffee.

Families chit chatting while waiting for our breakfast to be served.

Great atmosphere with a great Latte, what a great morning.

Once we done with our breakfast and last sip of our coffee, we get back to the car and depart over for our plan today, road trip exploration around Doi Suthep-Pui National Park! The park was named after the mountains where the hermit Sudeva lived on it's slopes for many years. It was quite near to old city, just around 5 KMs away and we start the ascend uphill. The road condition here was superb with no holes at all as far as I could recall. There was lots of cyclists climb here as well but since the path was wide enough, it was pretty bike-friendly route in my opinion.

Our first exploration up here was all the way up on the windy road uphill all over to the hidden village of Ban Khun Chang Khian, a famous Sakura valley spot in Thailand which in fact, no longer hidden anymore as it was super famous in recent days. The road to the village slowly get narrow and narrower, and my family members keep doubting if we were on the right route or not, but I definitely confident with it. Actually, I am not 100% sure if it was already blooming season up there, but I felt it worth a try since we were already here.

We went through the Sakura valley spot but unfortunately it wasn't the blooming time yet, but we still manage to stop for a while at Ban Khun Chang Khian village for some exploration. We have a break via a breakfast shop with a breathtaking view that offer very nice noodle soup and coffee, as well as interacting with local ethnicity of Hmong people here by buying some handmade artworks from them. Minor disappointment of not able to witness the beauty of Sakura here at this time, but we still have a very good experience exploring this small and peaceful village along with those friendly villagers, it definitely still a very worth visiting minority village, the area was not commercial at all!

Orange flower bed in the village.

Very unique looking plant.

A mother's smile that make all the hard work worth it.

My mum measured and surprise that the flower was even bigger than her face.

My mum and her sisters.

A napping dog in the village.

Let's take a break in the cafe.

Life is definitely a strong element here.

A puffer fish specimen hanging on the cafe.

The view from the Ban Khun Chang Khian cafe.

Flower bed just next to the cafe.

Close up on these beautiful flowers.

Families taking a break in the cafe, enjoying great noodle soup and coffee again.

A very majestic chicken posting for photo.

There was a small Christian Church here as well at Ban Khun Chang Khian.

Cute boy posting a victory hand-sign after I bought him an ice cream.

Families taking a photo with the minority villager after buying some fruits from her.

A deciduous tree standing high on the village.

The Doi Pui viewpoint overlooking the mountain range on the way to Ban Khun Chang Khian.

The Hmong Village which was an actual tourist spot, look at the count of the cars there. I am glad we chose to visit Ban Khun Chang Khian which wasn't commercialize in comparison.

Leaving Ban Khun Chang Khian, we follow back the same path down hill and having our next visit on the famous Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. It was rather easy to know when we were close to the temple as the roadside start to packed with lots of parking vehicle hence I just try to spot for an empty slot and park our car promptly which end up to be a fairly wise choice as when we get closer to the entrance, there wasn't any empty parking lots anymore.

Good that everyone warm up a bit before we reach the entrance, as it required efforts to conquer series of staircase before we can reach the main area of the temple. There was a lot of posting tribal children with traditional clothes along the way, which they will accompany you with some interesting photos as long as you pay them certain amount of money. I personally did not have interest to support them, as it will continue to promote these minority children that begging is a sustainable lifestyle. These kids deserved to be in school for education, and not as such earning machine for their parent.

The traffic here at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

Time to do some exercise....

A guardian that seem to be guarding the path to the main temple.

The posting tribal kids taking a rest waiting for her customers.

She immediately turned into absolute active mode once there was customers approaching, you can tell that she was professional on these attracting skill despite her young age.

Along the way, there were quite a numbers of them. They should have been studying at school at this time wasn't it?

After paying the entrance for 100 Baht for adults, we have a walk around before visiting the main temple that required us to take off our shoes before entering. Immediately upon stepping in, we were amaze with the shining golden atmosphere almost every corner inside the main temple, on the temple exterior,Buddha statue, and of course the absolutely gorgeous gold plated Pagoda in the middle of it! After visiting the main temple, we continue to wander around the area and came across a platform that overlooking Chiang Mai and Old City from high up. Although the sun was shining brightly, but the cool air and breeze at this time of year was truly comfortable and refreshing. When we ready to leave, only I realize there was a cable car service we can take to skip the staircase climbing, definitely a better option especially if there were some elders in your group, do take note!

We have a late afternoon lunch at Kuakai Nimman, located near to Chiang Mai University and was a famous eatery spot among students nearby. The food was absolutely great and since the main target was the students, hence the price was also very reasonable as well! You may also visit a famous dessert shop, iBerry Garden just next to Kuakai Nimman for their ice cream as well after the lunch, too bad we did not have enough buffer on our stomach to taste it, perhaps next time!

Local ladies praying at the temple.

Buddha statue once we entered the paid zone.

The entrance towards the main temple area, do remember to take off your shoes first before entering.

Sister and her children decide to take a rest waiting for us outside.

Golden yellowish atmosphere on the air as soon as we enter the main area!

It was hard to snap a photo without fellow strangers here....

Absolutely gorgeous gold plated Pagoda!

Mum and the sisters with the golden Pagoda.

Sun flare hitting the tip of the Pagoda.

Me and mum at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

Monk executing prayers in the main temple.

Wandering around the temple area.

A platform that offer the clear view on Chiang Mai area as well as the Old City.

Mother, sister, and aunt for a photo shot at the platform area.

A huge platform that help to shielded a little from the fierce sun ray.

It was a hectic travel day yesterday, and tomorrow will be long drive again, hence I decided to bring everyone back to our home stay for more rest prior to tomorrow itinerary. Since I am still energetic, same with my mum, hence I brought her for little walk towards the west gate of Old City, Tha Phae Gate for quick exploration. It was a peaceful atmosphere there as people just relaxing there sitting or walking around slowly, no tension at all. There was also annual Chiang Mai Marathon going to start here tomorrow morning, looking at the route and the chilling weather here, it did motivate me to continue my practice and perhaps return here one day to join the event!

We have a simple dinner just on the road side before call it a day. A minor problem seen on our luggage as by setting the car to actual 7 seating, the remaining space at the car boot not able to accommodate all our bags anymore. Since we going to leave Chiang Mai for few days, and returning back to same home stay again, the owner volunteer to help us keep few of our big luggage until our return, what a nice approach to offer their help! Truly appreciate it else I really unsure how we going to fit everything into the boot when it seems impossible! Thanks again!

A small market just few minutes walk from our home stay.

Many similar bridge connecting Old City to the main road crossing the river.

The preserved wall close to Tha Phae Gate area.

The Tha Phae Gate a.k.a the east gate.

The peaceful atmosphere at the compound in front of Tha Phae Gate.

Looking at the running map make me eager to participate the run next year!

Walk through Tha Phae Gate and have a relax walk back to our home stay.

Old City was full of very nice cafe such as this one, but I just don't have enough time to hopping around these cafe. Perhaps next visit!

Doi Suthep-Pui National Park - Thailand

December 2019


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