Although it did not go exactly as planned, my Northern Thailand trip in early January was a trip to remember.
I first flew to Chiang Mai from Bangkok, stayed there for a few days, and went to Phayao, Phu Chi Fa, Chiang Rai, and back to Chiang Mai. I originally intended to take a motorbike ride to Pai, but the weather didn’t cooperate. It rained for three days straight, effectively wiping my Pai motorbike trip out.
Still, during a break in the weather, I was able to take my rented bike up to Doi Suthep and visit the temple.
It was my first real motorbike ride and I must say it was exhilarating. The wind in my face, the cornering, and beautiful views overlooking Chiang Mai.
Phayao and Phu Chi Fa
I went with some friends to Phayao and Phu Chi Fa for a few days. These are quiet little places in northern Thailand within the Phayao and Nan provinces not frequented often by tourists.
The lake in Phayao is beautiful, surrounded by mountains poking up above the clouds.
On our last night out of Phayao, we drove about three hours along hairpin curves and steep inclines to the Phu Chi Fa mountain. We finally arrived at 10 pm for a late dinner. In cold mountain weather, we had moo kata, a Thai-style combination of a Korean BBQ and Chinese hot pot. I’ve never eaten fresh meat and vegetables so delicious — with the flavors oozing into the soup around the meat.
With a full stomach and after a dozen beers, we went to bed at 1 am. Then we woke up at 5 am to take a 700 meter hike up to the mountain summit and watch the sunrise as it happened.
The elevation was roughly 1,600 meters and it was freezing. There were a lot of people, and everyone was wearing coats and had cups of hot coffee just before sunrise.
The sunrise itself was the most beautiful I had ever seen. Pictures won’t do it any justice. You would have to experience it yourself at Phu Chi Fa — with your own eyes, feeling the sunrise glow on your skin on the breezy mountaintop, and breathing the cool fresh air over a sea of clouds.
I didn’t spend enough time in Chiang Rai to get a good feel of the town, but I visited the White Temple. It was worth a visit and amazing in its own right.
Absolutely beautiful and enthralling. Even if you’re not into temples, or are sick and tired of visiting Thai temples, this is a must see.
Back to Chiang Mai
I was planning to close my trip with a motorbike ride up Doi Inthanon, the highest point of Thailand at roughly 8,500 feet (2,565 m). But that trip was completely foiled because it started raining again. It wasn’t supposed to be the rainy season, but visibilities were low and it was pouring. I decided to come back another time and try again when the weather got better.
Instead, I went to the Isaan region for a week, and returned to Bangkok soon after.
Doi Inthanon remains on my must-travel list. Perhaps late 2017…