Doi Suthep © Doug Knuth
Some 13 miles (21km) west of Chiang Mai lies the Doi Suthep Mountain, famous for the Wat Phrathat temple perched on the summit. Legend has it that in the late 14th century King Ku Na was looking for somewhere to house a collection of holy relics. He placed them in a howdah (canopied seat) on the back of an elephant and let the animal wander. The elephant proceeded to climb Doi Suthep, on top of which it trumpeted, turned round three times and knelt to indicate that this was the spot. Within the site are bells, pagodas, statues and shrines influenced by both Buddhist and Hindu culture, including a model of the Emerald Buddha and a statue of the Hindu god Ganesh. Wat Phrathat can be reached either by a flight of about 300 steps, or by funicular, and offers breathtaking views of the countryside.
Transport: Songthaews (red taxi trucks) leave from in front of Chiang Mai University and in front of the Chiang Mai Zoo. They cost around THB 30 per person one-way.