Wat Phra That Doi Suthep | Meditation
Wow, so I’ve just finished a 9 day meditation at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
The temple Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a famous temple in Chiang Mai. It is also the most sacred temple in northern Thailand. The locals call it Doi Suthep after the 1,676-meter high mountan it resides on.
The temple is stunning with a large, gold coloured chedi in the middle and an umbrella which symbolizes the city’s independence from Myanmar and its association with Thailand.
There are altars with Buddha statues inside the temple. The walls are decorated with beautiful paintings that tell the story of Buddha. Quite spectacular to see.The temple is open to visitors every day and they come from all over Thailand and worldwide to offer lotus flowers, incense and candles. It’s quite busy with guests.
What’s it like to meditate here?
Coming up the mountain I was being entertained by my very passionate grab driver. The roads are windy with lush green tropical trees and vegetation. It’s very beautiful.When arriving at the temple I was shocked to see many clothing and souvenir outdoor stalls, atms and food stalls. As well as many, many tourists. Even a stall that sells fried insects! I was quite surprised and a bit disappointed that the food stalls sold meat.
After the stalls you travel up the stairs of 300+ steps to the temple. Here’s the view downwards. Imagine walking these carrying a backpack!
Then, to go to meditation center you follow the signs to the right.
I went straight to the meditation center and checked in so I could explore the temple surrounds without a backpack.
The meditation center is not as fancy as the temple. It’s simple. There are different rooms for different activities. One space for meditation – mats long enough for walking meditation.
This room has regular pop in tourist visitors from the temple above, which can be quite a distraction. Some of them are quite boisterous even though the door says noble silence.
One space for the morning Dhamma Talk and evening chanting.
Here’s another small area for meditation. I preferred this one because not many people come here. No tourists.
And a space for breakfast and lunch.
The meals are simple vegetarian Thai dishes, always with rice. Mostly with soy (I avoid soy so this meant sometimes I could only eat rice for a meal), sometimes chilli… Not sattvic, much to my disappointment. I notified the young monk of my need for no soy, but it did not happen. On my 7th day I could not eat the breakfast because it was a bowl of soy drenched noodles. That’s when another staff handed me a food requirement form. Urgh! Just be warned to insist and ask all staff to get your food requirements met.
- Not sattvic food
- Tourists coming into the meditation space daily
- New meditators can arrive any day disrupting the noble silence. They might talk to each other or on their phone loudly for the first day until they become more familiar.
- No women caretakers or cooks, so young boys age about 20s enter into the women’s area.
At Doi Suthep the routine is:
- 5am Wake up
- 5.30am Dhamma Talk
- 7am Breakfast
- 8am to 11am meditation
- 11am Lunch
- 12pm report to the meditation teacher
- 1pm to 6pm meditation
- 6pm evening chanting
- 7pm evening meditation
- 9pm day ends
There’s no dinner.
For me this casual atmosphere was probably perfect for now. I needed to unwind after a hectic, toxic year in China and kick start my diet and meditation routine. Being at this meditation center was very deeply relaxing, with excellent Dhamma talks that nourished the mind and soul.
- Deeply relaxing
- Meditation can be done in the room if it suits you better.
- Excellent Dhamma talks
- Allowance and understanding to give you space to find your own way into meditation.
I would not recommend this place for serious meditators who are ready to go deep. It’s too distracting.
Definitely recommend to anyone else, which is the rest of the population!
Donations for tourists to bring:
If you go to visit Doi Suthep as a day trip tourist please make sure you wander down to the meditation center on the track following the signs, or ask someone how to go there…. And bring them some needed things!
I feel they would benefit greatly from having a few cleaning supplies such as:
- Buckets for clothes washing. They could put one on each floor in the male and female buildings. They only have 1 bucket at the moment!
- Sponge mops for each floor of the male and female buildings. The rain comes in, the ants or bugs die… And there was nothing to tidy up the place except some short handled brooms.
- New curtains for the rooms as these are torn to shreds.
If just 12 people visiting Doi Suthep for the day brought one of these items they’d manage much better!
Tell them Santosha sent you! Although they’d have no idea who that is. Names are just not a thing there.