A Morning with the Monks
Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, Thailand
Explore the spiritual side of Northern Thailand, visiting some of Chiang Mai's most sacred sites. Witness the daily alms giving for the monks, take in the views from Wat Doi Suthep and venture into the mysterious tunnels beneath Wat Umong.
You will need to start early this morning to head out of Chiang Mai to Doi Suthep mountain, where you will arrive in time to see the monks leave their monasteries and begin their walk along the streets for the daily alms collection. Should you wish, you may offer alms, otherwise it is still a fascinating cultural experience to see the brightly-robed monks collecting the offerings and blessing those who have made donations.
You will then continue up the mountain to Wat Doi Suthep. This famous temple was built in 1383 as a shrine to house a Buddha relic. Your driver will take you up the winding mountain road, and then the temple is reached by either a steep 306-step staircase or a tram. As well as admiring the temple, visitors can also enjoy the panoramic views over Chiang Mai and the lush surrounding countryside.
On the way back to Chiang Mai you will stop at Wat Umong. This temple is tucked away in peaceful woodlands, and is over 700 years old. The forest setting and the 13th century tunnels that wind beneath the Chedi give the site an air of mystery - particularly as no one is completely sure as to why the tunnels were built or what they were for. Should you wish, whilst at Wat Umong you can also receive a blessing from a monk.
Back in the city, you will visit a local restaurant for some lunch. Why not try some Khao Soi, a well-known Chiang Mai dish which has crispy noodles and a coconut curry soup.
Please note that as you will be visiting religious sites, you will need to cover shoulders and knees. You will also need to remove your shoes at certain parts of the temples.