Local media organisations have confirmed this year’s walking pilgrimage to Doi Suthep Temple will take place on the eve of Visakha Bucha Day. Chiang Mai’s CM108 and the Tourism Authority of Thailand have both reported the 11km walk will take place in the evening on the 17th May 2019.
Walkers planning to take part in the trek up to the hilltop Wat Doi Suthep generally congregate at the start point near the base of Suthep Mountain at 19:00. The path is quite steep and the walk can be arduous although drinking water is usually available at multiple locations en route.
After arrival at the temple, tradition dictates that Buddhists walk around the large main chedi three times while holding lit candles. This rite is known as wian tian. Once wian tian has been enacted, it is time to board one of the waiting songthaew taxis for the ride back to the start point at the foot of Suthep Mountain.
Visakha Bucha Day is one of the most important holidays on Thailand’s calendar. The day celebrates the birth of Buddha, his spiritual enlightenment and the day of his death. To mark the occasions, Thai Buddhists pay a visit to their local temples to join prayer sessions.
Visakha Bucha is a religious and public holiday. The sale of alcohol is banned on the actual holiday, the 18th of May. The 18th is a Saturday and so the substitution holiday will be carried forward to Monday 20th May. Most government offices, including provincial immigration offices, and the main branches of banks will not open on the Monday.