There’s a reason why Chiang Mai is somewhere most visitors to Thailand head to at some point.
And that reason is, because it’s a wonderful city.
Whether passing through, chilling out, or getting some work done with the guys in the digital nomad community, there’s something for everyone.
However, as nice as the city is, a lot of Chiang Mai’s highlights aren’t in the city at all.
Take Wat Phra Doi Suthep, for example.
A temple (Wat Phra), sitting on a hill (Doi Suthep), overlooking Chiang Mai. When in town, getting up there is a must-do.
You could go by songthaew.
But it’s much more fun going by scooter.
Renting a scooter in Chiang Mai
Thanks to the number of places with bikes available and the number of tourists who hire one every day, renting a scooter in Chiang Mai to ride up Doi Suthep isn’t difficult.
However, some companies are better than others.
Prices can vary, even for daily rentals, but that really shouldn’t be your biggest concern.
My tips would be as follows.
Always check the condition of the scooter before renting. Take a little test ride up and down the road if possible to check the brakes, at the very least.
Ask about the arrangements for paying for any damage you may cause to the scooter.
Wings and fairings are generally cheap to replace should you drop the bike, although the actual amount you’ll be charged might depend on how much money the rental place wants to make on the side.
Check the contract carefully before signing.
Always get a helmet.
And don’t feel like you have to leave your passport as a deposit. The better places will only ask for a copy (and cash of course).
Above all, trust your gut on whether the company and person feels trustworthy.
My honest advice would be to head straight to (or call) Mango Bikes and see if they have anything available.
Riding a Scooter up Doi Suthep
As you can see from the top picture in this post, I took a scooter up Doi Suthep myself.
I actually did it on more than one occasion, and loved it each time.
Although the road throws a lot of bends at you as it snakes its way up the hill, it’s not too challenging if you’ve ridden a scooter before.
And like most things in Thailand, there’s no rush to get there anyway.
Take your time. Enjoy the view.
Especially at the look-out point you’ll come to around three-quarters of the way up.
Wat Phra Doi Suthep
The temple at the top of Doi Suthep (the hill) is known as Wat Phra Doi Suthep, and is about a 15 kilometre ride from the city.
Local legend has it that a piece of the Buddha’s shoulder bone was placed on an elephant’s back before the beast was released into the jungle.
The elephant climbed what is now Doi Suthep, reached the spot where the temple now stands, and dropped dead.
The people of the time took this as a sign, and Wat Phra Doi Suthep was built.
I took my camera that day, with the F.Zuiko 38mm f1.8, and got these few shots. Nothing major though. It was a day for riding, not shooting.
But you can find more of my pictures from Wat Phra Doi Suthep in the High in Chiang Mai post.
Renting a scooter in Chiang Mai and heading up Doi Suthep is something I’d recommend to anyone confident enough to take the ride.
The temple itself is nice enough to still have a good day out if you were to go by songthaew.
But the combination of the ride up and the temple when you arrive is something special.
Do it, I say.
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