Jun 20, 2020
Ascending Phu Thok Hill Viewpoint
Location : Phu Thok Hill Viewpoint, Chiang Khan (district), Loei (province), Thailand
Phu Thok ('lonely mountain')
2 hotel guests, Kate and Sassy, invited me to join them to a mountain top to see the sunrise. Rising 480 MASL, just 8 kms south-east of Chiang Khan proper is the popular sunrise viewpoint of Phu Thok. From the summit, you can see a thick layer of clouds just below with a few mountain peaks piercing through the clouds. It was a stunning spectacle. The sun comes out of the clouds. However, the scene could rapidly change. Thick fog could just sweep through, whitening everyting around with visibility greatly reduced. You don't even see the mountain peaks anymore and only get a haze on the rising sun.
Arrangements can be made with a tuk-tuk to take you to the gated entrance at the base of the mountain. From there, you pay another B25/person for a pick-up truck ride to the summit. You can stay up as long as you want. You can board any of the pick-up truck on the summit on the way down to board your tuk-tuk.
Further reading after my ascent, I learned that Phu Thok has two peaks. You can manually climb the peak beginning from the Wat Phu Thok temple at the base. You cross a bridge and take the flight of stairs in seven sections. I would have taken this route had I known earlier.
Phu Thok Hill was an unexpected and pleasant addition to Chiang Khan. What I found interesting was being on top and seeing a blanket of thick clouds on the valley below and seeing mountain peaks piercing the clouds to reveal their summit. Of course a fog can take that all away in a breath.
--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
How to Get to Phu Thok Hill (and Kaeng Khut Khu)
- from Chiang Khan proper, make an arrangement with a tuk-tuk driver for pick-up. Rate is about B200 for one person or 3 people for about B100/person - no established rate. You have to negotiate. This rate includes a second trip to Kaeng Khut Khu and then back to town.
- upon arrival at the base, you pay an entrance fee of B25 which includes a ride to the peak by pick-up truck. Your tuk-tuk stays behind and wait for you.
- at the summit, you get off and the pick-up goes back to the base. There will always be a pick-up on standby at the peak. You can ride down on any one of them.
- upon descending, get back to your tuk-tuk and take another ride to Kaeng Khut Khu.
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Chiang Khan Travel Information / Tips
About Chiang Khan
This single statement tells you a lot Chiang Khan: NOBODY LOCKS THEIR BICYCLES!!! Yes, it is a very safe place. Many foreigners don't even know this place exists, but it is popular to local Thai tourists (and Koreans, I was told). The main draw of Chiang Khan is the kilometer-long walking street and the promenade along the scenic Mekong River. The street is lined-up with hotels, boutiques, vendors, restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops. The promenade is particularly charming to stroll about in time for the sunset.
Direct Bus from Nong Khai to Chiang Khan along the Mekong River
Before, there was no direct travel route. You either:
- take a bus to Udon Thani, another bus to Loei, and another bus to Chiang Khan
- or take the slow, dilapidated, and uncomfortable green bus along the winding Mekong route, get off at Pak Chom, take another bus towards Loei but get off at Ban That (village), and then take another bus to Chiang Khan. No wonder people don't go to Chiang Khan from Nong Khai!
As of June 18, 2020 (the trip I took), when things were beginning to normalize from the COVID pandemic, there seems to be a few changes.
- the 3 trips/day by the green bus (7:30am, 11:00am and 3:00pm) have been reduced to 1 trip at 12 noon
- BEST, the bus goes all the way to Chiang Khan. You don't have to get off at Pak Chom.
- Trip Details from the Nong Khai bus terminal
departure time: 12 noon (only one trip)
duration: 5 hours
Nong Khai (left 12 noon)
Tha Bo (arrived 12:55 pm)
Si Chiang Mai (arrived 1:25 pm)
Sangkhom (arrived 2:35 pm)
Pak Chom (arrived 4:05 pm)
Chiang Khan (arrived 5:05 pm)
Chiang Khan Attractions
- Walking Steet - animated street line with shops, hotels, restos, bars, cafe and buskers
- Promenade - planked walkway extending for kilometers with the Mekong River on one side and fancy hotels and restaurants on the other side
- Phu Thok view point - 7.5 kilometers from the town center towards the mountain, it reaches 480 meters and offers stunning view of the sunrise and mountain tops piercing through the low-lying clouds
- Kaeng Khut Khu - 5.5kms downstream on the Mekong from town center, the manicured park has life-like statues of masked characters celebrated during their Phi Ta Khon Ghost Festival. It also has a 2-storie statue of the Jueng Khueng Dangdaeng, a Laos giant hunter who, as legend would have it, became part of the rocks sprinkled on the Mekong between Laos and Thailand
Chiang Khan to Loei by BusAt the Loei Bus Terminal (see map), there are numerous daily trips to Loei (en route to Nakhon Ratchasima): 6:30 am, xxxx am, . xxx hours, B38.
Chiang Khan Blogs by TheLoneRider
- Alms-Round (Sai Bat) with the Buddhist Monks of Chiang Khan Jun 21, 2020
- The Rapids of Kaeng Khut Khu, Chiang Khan Jun 20, 2020
- Ascending Phu Thok Hill Viewpoint Jun 20, 2020
- Chiang Khan Promenade by the Mekong River Jun 19, 2020
- Rummaging Through the Walking Street of Chiang Khan, Loei Jun 19, 2020
- A First-Timer in Chiang Khan, Loei, Thailand Jun 18, 2020
- Nong Khai - Chiang Khan Roadtrip June 18, 2020
Travel Tips for Thailand
How to Get a 60-Day Thai Tourist Visa and then Extend by another 30 Days
This process is BEFORE Covid 19. Not sure what it is now.
- Bring the following to the Thai embassy:
a) proof of money (bank statement will suffice)
b) flight booking to Thailand
c) onward flight back to your country from Thailand
d) filled-in tourist visa form
e) 2 passport pictures
f) hotel booking in Thailand (they didn't ask me for this but better be safe)
g) passport with at least 6 months validity
- After handing over all the documents, they will ask you to come pick your passport with the visa the following day from 4 to 5pm. That's it!
- NOTE: after 2 successful attempts, I was already questioned the 3rd time.
60-Day Thai Tourist Visa
NOTE: There is no need to go back to your country to get the Thai tourist visa. Any major city with a Thai Embassy will do. Apparently there is also no need to have an invitation from a Thai establishment to justify the visa.
- bring the following to the Immigration Office:
a) passport (make sure your Tourist Visa hasn't expired yet)
b) Baht 1900
c) photocopy of your passport + visa duration date stamp + TM6 card (white immigration card) and sign all the copies
d) completed TM7 visa extension form (available at the Immigration Office)
e) one 4cmx6cm passport picture
- submit the above to the Front Desk. They will give you a stub with your number on it. Take a seat and wait for your number to be called
- when your number is called, your picture will be taken. Then go back to your seat. They will call you again.
- when they call you again, they'll give you your passport with your extended visa. That's it!
- when there are no lines, the whole process can take only 10 minutes
NOTE: When your 60-day visa is close to expiry and you want to extend your stay. No need to leave Thailand.
Book Train Tickets in Thailand
Book Train Tickets in Thailand Online by Train36.com
General Travel Tips
- arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
- put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the journey...you just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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