The Incredible Sunset and Sunrise at Phu Lang Ka

phu lang ka sunrise

Phu Lang Ka is a small and remote village in the mountains of Phayao Province in Northern Thailand.

We spent one night there on our Northern Thailand road trip and stayed in the only accommodation option the village has: Phu Lang Ka Resort. Arriving at 4pm in the afternoon after spending the entire day riding on the back of a scooter, I announced it was time for bed and stumbled off to our small hut to lie on a lump of concrete disguised as a bed.

I wasn’t going to get any rest here. 

Dave and Stuart discovered that the “resort” didn’t have any beer – or any cold drinks either. After a ten minute ride on the bike to the nearest shop, Stuart returned armed with five hundred bottles of beer.

I soon forgot about my frustration and agitation at the lack of internet when the sun began to set in the sky.

It was one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.

phu lang ka sunset


phu lang ka sunset

After a less than restful sleep where I felt like I was lying on a bed of rocks and hairbrushes, and where the silence was continually interrupted by the terrifying sound of gunshots in the valley below, I was unhappy when the alarm sounded at 5am.

It was time to watch the sunrise. 

Slowly crawling out of bed, I nearly fell through the dog-shaped hole in the middle of our floor as I made my way outside. My body felt like just like the hut: dusty, dirty, creaky, damp and cold.

However, as soon as I forced my eyes open, I forgot about all the pain I was in, and was in complete awe of the beautiful sight in front of me. The sun was just beginning to rise over the mountains and the valley was filled with an almost creepy layer of mist.

It felt like we were on another planet. 

phu lang ka sunrise


phu lang ka sunrise


phu lang ka sunrise


phu lang ka sunrise


phu lang ka sunset

As we sat shivering, huddled up on a bench and eating a disgusting breakfast of soggy rice porridge, I couldn’t help but smile to myself. Despite the horrible beds, the lack of cold beer, the no internet and the awful breakfast, the views were perfect. I was getting to see a part of Thailand that few tourists ever get to experience and I felt so fortunate to be doing so.

Where was the best sunrise and sunset that you’ve ever seen?



  1. EurotripTips
    April 3, 2012

    Wow, very National Geographic! Amazing photos, even though you had to suffer a little bit to get them ;-)

    • April 11, 2012

      Thanks :) It was definitely worth the agony and sleepless night :)

  2. John of Travel Rinse Repeat
    April 3, 2012

    Beautiful photos, sounds like it was worth the pain and suffering to go along with it. The best sunrise I’ve ever seen was in Acadia National Park. The entire sky burned a vibrant neon pink color – I’ve never seen sunrise or sunset quite that saturated before or since.

    • April 11, 2012

      Ah, pink sunrises are the best. I’m hardly ever awake to see them though!

  3. Chris Wotton
    April 3, 2012

    Awesome – love it here. We last went in rainy season and the sunset/sunrise wasn’t as great, but still such a picturesque place generally. Hoping to go back in dry season soon..

    • April 11, 2012

      I wasn’t expecting any commenters that have been there, Chris! It truly is beautiful…

  4. Alison
    April 3, 2012

    These pictures are so stunning. I love sunsets, they’re always special moments. Your breakfast didn’t sound too good though :-)

    • April 11, 2012

      Thanks so much, Alison! :) I try to catch as many sunsets as I can while travelling. And yes, the breakfast was terrible.

  5. Someday I'll Be There - Mina
    April 4, 2012

    Amazing shots Lauren.

    • April 11, 2012

      Thanks so much, Mina :)

  6. Lindsey
    April 4, 2012

    Gorgeous photos Lauren! I love the third sunrise photo especially. I really don’t envy you that bed though ;)

    • April 11, 2012

      Thanks, Lindsey :) The bed was terrible, but the views were worth the pain and no sleep!

  7. Audrey | That Backpacker
    April 4, 2012

    Oh my gooooooodness!!! I want to stay in that hotel with beds that feel like concrete just so that I can watch the sun set and rise over that valley. :D Love the photos, Lauren!

    • April 11, 2012

      Hahahaha, thanks Audrey! It was a magical experience :D

  8. Kat
    April 3, 2012

    Amazing photos! Just out of curiosity, what kind of camera do you use? I’d love to do the same as you after graduation (after a few months of raising some money for it) but I’m not sure whether to get an SLR for the great photos or whether a compact digital would be more travel-friendly?

    • April 11, 2012

      Hi Kat. I use a Canon 550D. I definitely recommend getting the SLR. I took both that and a P&S and have used the P&S about twice in nine months.

  9. Wayne
    April 4, 2012

    Loving the photos, loving your journey! Keep posting! :D

    • April 11, 2012

      Thanks so much, Wayne!

  10. Adhriene
    April 4, 2012

    Great photos you have shared to us here…They are really perfect shots!I have never seen such photos as these…

    • April 11, 2012

      Thanks, Adhriene!

  11. Jodi
    April 4, 2012

    Pity about the bed, but judging from those epic photographs, I’d put up with the concrete bedding lol!

    • April 11, 2012

      Yep, I’d do it again in a heartbeat :)

  12. Nate
    April 4, 2012

    If you’re a fan of Jack Handy (SNL character of the 80s-90s), he said that “The best sunset I’ve ever seen is on page 6 in the Book of Sunsets.” B)

  13. Sophie HeadingThere
    April 4, 2012

    I am moving to Thailand in four months, and get butterflies looking at photos like these. There is something really magical about this sunset…can’t wait to be surrounded by scenes like this all the time! Have you been to Ko Tao? That’s where I’ll be living.

    Great blog, thanks for sharing!

    • April 11, 2012

      Thailand is so amazing! I haven’t been to Koh Tao unfortunately, but I’m sure you’ll have an incredible time :)

  14. Changes In Longitude
    April 5, 2012

    Wow, great shots. Looks you had better luck there than we had in Chiang Mai. We couldn’t get out of there quick enough.


    Larissa and Michael

    • April 11, 2012

      You should have visited when there isn’t any smog…

  15. Jen
    April 5, 2012

    GORGEOUS! looks like it was totally worth it! x

    • April 11, 2012

      Thanks Jen! It totally was! :D

  16. Micamyx|Senyorita
    April 11, 2012

    Are these shots for real? They look so beautiful and perfect! :D So far, the best sunset I’ve seen is a toss between the one in Boracay Island and Manila Bay. I can only remember one sunrise which is in Mt. Arayat also in the Philippines.

  17. Judith
    May 7, 2012

    Beautiful photos, sounds like it was worth the pain and suffering to go along with it. The best sunrise I’ve ever seen was in Acadia National Park. The entire sky burned a vibrant neon pink color – I’ve never seen sunrise or sunset quite that saturated before or since.

  18. October 12, 2012

    I have just discovered your blog and I am really enjoying it! These photos alone make me want to travel to Thailand! Simply breathtaking!

  19. Sophie
    July 12, 2013

    Love your stories!
    I only have 3 and a half weeks in Thailand. I have a global plan (don’t want to plan it all), but I was wondering if this is worth the trip if I only have so little time? I pretty much want to see some things around Bangkok, in the north, in the south, and I’d love to go to the less touristy northeastern part..

    Just a quick other question; if you’d have to choose between khao sok and khao yai, which one would you choose? Or would you really try to visit both?

  20. rob
    December 5, 2015

    uhhh, ALL rice porridge is soggy. newsflash :p

    • December 5, 2015

      Hahaha! Valid.

  21. June 10, 2016

    The great advances of traveling with your own transport is that you can take some comfort with you … pillows are always in my car. And I try to make a stop at the last place of civilisation to buy some food & drinks.

    Stunning photos! I have not yet been there (although I passed it once while on the motorbike) but as soon the raining season is over I will be heading there by car (with food & drinks).

    • June 14, 2016

      We definitely wished we had stopped to pick up some drinks on the way up to the resort!

  22. Liesbeth
    May 23, 2017

    Beautiful! We are going there in february. Do you maybe have an emailadress of Phu Lang Ka resort? I can not find it anywhere and we like to book some rooms (despite the awful beds, but there is no other accommodation. Thanks. regards,

    • May 23, 2017

      Hi Liesbeth! Ah, I don’t think they have an email address, as there wasn’t any Wi-Fi when we visited. Your best bet is to phone them when you’re in Thailand to make a reservation — but I really don’t think you’d need to do that. Hardly anybody ever goes to Phu Lang Ka, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you were the only people staying there when you go.

  23. RV
    January 13, 2020

    Hi! I just read about this resort recently and fell in love with it already. I am desperately wanting to visit this resort. Do you have any information on how to get here via public transportation? I am travelling alone. I cant go by car or motorbike, I don’t know how to drive at all. Is a weekend already enough to visit this place. Thank you in advance.

  24. mitch
    April 29, 2020

    I was at Phayao Lake in early January (just before the virus struck), very untouristy, so not for everybody, but it was just fine for me :) They also have a great night market if you’re fortunate to be there on a Saturday. Some nice sunsets over the lake in Phayao, but my all-time favorite sunset has to be on a plane flying over Java, watching the sun set over an endless landscape of volcanoes.