Perched high on Doi Suthep Mountain west of Chiang Mai, the Buddhist temple of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep was built in 1383 on the orders of King Geu Na. Legend has it that the king, in possession of a holy bone relic of Buddha, strapped it to an elephant, and founded the temple at the mountainside spot where the great beast led him.
306 steep steps lead up the lush mountain slopes to the magnificent temple complex, composed of shrines, bells, golden umbrellas, terraces and statues. The centrepiece is the vast, shimmering gold-plated chedi (pagoda), which enshrines the relic and other treasures. Together with the main grounds, there is also a lower terrace graced with a statue of the legendary elephant, which commands stupendous views over Chiang Mai, spread below. For those who cannot or prefer not to climb the steps, a funicular also runs up to the temple.