Marked by Buddhist faithful throughout the world, Visakha Bucha commemorates the life, Enlightenment and death of the Lord Buddha some 2500 years ago. This year the holiday, which is sometimes known simply as Buddha’s birthday, falls on May 13. In what has become a new annual tradition, local Buddhists and others seeking to make merit gather in Chiang Mai on the night of Visakha Bucha and walk together in an 11km pilgrimage from Wat Mou Boon – near the Kruba Srivichai Monument – to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
The temple is commonly known as ‘Doi Suthep’ although the shorter name in fact refers to the mountain. The journey requires several hours and a good deal of endurance, but it’s often well attended and has the feel of a parade. Upon arrival, pilgrims typically walk three times around the temple’s main stupa before offering alms to the monks at sunrise.
Later that day, visitors can witness a ceremony in which the holy Buddha images are sprinkled with special waters. From the temple’s location high on the mountains, awesome views of Chiang Mai can be seen below. If the hike proves too demanding, there are also songtaew that drive up from the city.