Phu Chee Fah

Phu Chee Fah

Quite a view

The dramatic and rugged Doi Pha Mon mountain range is situated in the remote, far southeast of Chiang Rai province with the Mekong and Laos lying at the foot of its eastern slopes. The stunning viewpoints, including the most famous peak of Phu Chee Fah, have long been popular with Thai tourists, but remain little known to many Western travellers.

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On a clear morning, the views over a vast swathe of Laos’ Sainyabuli province are breathtaking. Rising up to more than 1,700 metres, bear in mind the peaks will be cloud-covered for much of the year and frequently damp and foggy during the rainy season. The best period to visit is during the cool, dry months of November to February, when an extra feature will be the picturesque early morning mist drifting in the cool valleys. Mountaintops appear as islands amid an ocean of mist, which disperses as the heat of the rising sun hits the valley floors. (This may last until early or mid morning depending upon weather conditions.)

Great views. : Mark Ord.
Great views. Photo: Mark Ord

The thing to do when visiting is get up to one of the viewpoints in time to see dawn rise over Laos and the Mekong. Sealed but occasionally treacherous tracks lead up from the resorts, main road and villages on the western slopes of the summits to car parks. From here, uphill climbs of 400 to 800 metres take you to the peaks. We’d say take a flashlight but if it’s a weekend at Phu Chee Fah there’ll be so many other visitors hiking up, the path will already be well lit. Popular lookouts on a winter weekend are literally standing-room only.

For this reason we’d strongly recommend avoiding weekends, or looking at one of the quieter viewpoints apart from Phu Chee Fah itself. During weekdays many resorts are more or less closed and you’ll have less choice for eating and drinking but during Thai public holidays and cold season weekends it can turn into a circus and you’ll be paying twice as much for a chalet as well — if you can find one at all. (The proliferation of camping sites shows how busy ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,100 words.)

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