The tourist office in Chiang Mai has extended an open invitation for people to join a walk up Doi Suthep Mountain. The 11km-long pilgrimage hike from the foot of the mountain to Phra That Doi Suthep Temple is an annual event staged to mark the eve of Visakha Bucha Day. Visakha Bucha falls on 10 May this year. The walk is scheduled for the evening of the 9 May 2017.
The Visakha Bucha Day walk attracts large numbers of participants and the first set off at around 19:00. There is drinking water at designated points on the route up. The first walkers generally reach Phra That Doi Suthep Temple at about midnight. After arrival, the custom is to perform a ritual called wian tian at the golden chedi. This requires people to walk around the chedi three times while holding lit candles.
Although walkers are mostly teenagers or 20-somethings, the Tourism Authority of Thailand says young and old alike generally join in and are more than welcome this year as well. The walk is only one way and there are songthaew shared taxis on hand to transport walkers back to the bottom of the hill.
Visakha Bucha is one of the holiest days on the calendar for Buddhists and celebrates the birthday of Lord Buddha as well as his enlightenment and the day of his death. The chedi, or pagoda, at Phra That Doi Suthep Temple is said to contain a relic of Buddha.