Phou Fa

The mountain in the sky

Photo of , , Phongsali

What we say: 4.5 stars

Phou Fa, or Mountain in the Sky, sits above Phongsali at an altitude of 1,625 metres.

Take the road up the hill next to Phongsali Hotel and turn right at the roundabout following the road past the houses and along the foot of the mountain until you reach a sign in English pointing the way up the stairs.

If you have your own wheels, it is possible to ride to the top, but the “road” is nothing more than a goat track which becomes an impossible quagmire in all but the middle of the dry season. Still, it's worth a crack on the bike if you can't be bothered walking – you can always turn back.

The site is respected because it is believed that a Boddhi tree, like the one Buddha sat under to meditate, was here. The tree on Phou Fa was apparently gold, and one day it simply disappeared. At the top is a fairly stock standard stupa, but visitors to Phongsali might be more tempted to respect the site for the fantastic panoramic view of Phongsali and its surrounding mountains and valleys. Try to catch an incredible sunset from up here.

The 822 steps to the top should take no more than about 20 minutes to climb. There is a small fee of 5,000 kip for the temple upkeep to be paid on the way up, but the views make the trip (and the cost) well worth it. Add 3,000 kip if you take your motorbike.

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