Doi Suthep Walkers! Chiang Mai, Thailand
The Doi Suthep Walkers is a group of people who regularly hike in the Doi Suthep Pui National Park. This is a large National Park to the immediate west of Chiang Mai city. It is filled with wild forests, trails, waterfalls, spectacular views, tourists, and several temples.
The ‘must see’ Doi Suthep Temple is most sacred, important and biggest temple, and is on the highest point in the park. The Walkers hold regular Saturday morning hikes, starting at 07.30. The usual hike is from the city to the Doi Suthep temple. This is a three hour, easy hike, in two parts. The first is a one hour stroll to a beautiful, old Buddhist temple—the “Jungle Temple”. At this point you can stop, walk back or flag down a ‘tuk tuk’ (a mini bus) for a ride back to town.
For the more adventurous there is now a one hour ascent of the mountain. At the top you can spend time at the Doi Suthep Temple, eat at the many restaurants close by, and browse the numerous small shops offering tourist trinket bargains (if you can bargain well). There is no charge for the hike. For the hike you need to bring: Comfy shoes (hiking boots, no open shoes please) Water (at least one litre, better two) Snacks (you will be burning calories) Insect repellant (it is the jungle, bugs abound) Hat Money (for incidentals, and the ride back) I suggest also a long sleeved shirt, long trousers, high socks. Don’t let anything get inside! In addition two walking sticks if you plan to go higher. These are aluminium sticks designed to give you support over the rough areas of the trek. Your fellow travellers along the way are a mixed and interesting group. About half are western expats living in Chiang Mai, the other half are tourists from any and every country in the world. For 20 people expect ten countries, and lots of ages! This variety makes for interesting conversations as you ascend. You will make friends and contacts here.
The organiser Jouni, is an expat and local entrepreneur from Finland. Each Saturday’s hike is described on his Facebook group “Doi Suthep Walkers” (1,400 members). Join this group to find out what is happening next Saturday. The Doi Suthep hike is only one of a dozen or so. Most other hikes are longer and more challenging. They range from half a day to all day in length. Destinations include temples, waterfalls, and viewpoints. Fitness, you need a reasonable level of fitness. There are no rescue services available. You walk in under your own responsibility, and out. Once you hit the trail turning back is the only option to finishing the march. If you are looking for something a little different in Chiang Mai from the usual round of tourist activities grab your boots, hat, and enthusiasm and off you go!