Phu Tub Berk is a mountain in the Phetchabun Mountains that is rapidly growing in favour as a tourist resort for the local Thai population and is now starting to attract a steady stream of international tourists.
At a height of 1,794 m Phu Tub Berk is the highest point of the Phetchabun mountain range.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand calls the mountain Phu Tabberk, and you may also see it called a variety of names including: Phu Tubberk, Phu Thap Buek, Phu Thap Berk, Phu Thap Boek, Phu Tub Berg and in one case as Phu Man Khao. We call it Phu Tub Berk as it is both the most common name and also the name on the front of the Post Office on top of the mountain.
This area is now one of our most requested tours. Although we do offer a pickup from your motel in Bangkok, or from either of the Bangkok airports, there are cheaper and faster ways to get there. If wanting to do it on a tight budget, the cheapest way is to catch a bus from the Mo Chit bus terminal in Bangkok to the bus terminal in Phetchabun. If you want the fastest, and in my opinion, the most enjoyable, then catch a flight from the Don Meang airport in Bangkok to the Phitsanulok Airport and enjoy the very scenic and picturesque journey along route 12. This offers a good balance of price and enjoyment.
While there, make sure you see the magnificent Wat Pha Sorn Kaew (officially named Wat Phra That Pha Kae Kaew since May 2013) with the spectacular and unique five seated white Buddhas.
The area around Phu Tub Berk is home to the Hmong people and was previously a major source of the opium poppy. It is now a major source of cool climate vegetables and is said to have the largest cabbage field in Thailand.
Veggies aside, Phu Tub Berk also has some truly amazing views. Sometimes the mountains are enveloped by a sea of fog, so you look down on top of the mist. On a clear night you can look up at the stars and enjoy a view that is almost as clear as as the skies in outback Australia. Naturally there is no southern cross but none the less, you can get a good look at a clear starry northern sky. If you stay overnight, your camera will most likely get a workout with some spectacular sunsets and sunrise photo opportunities.
Although it is still in the tropics, it rarely gets hot. Due to the altitude, the temperatures around the mountain remain cool all year and in the coldest months November – February it can drop below freezing.
We first visited Phu Tub Berk in December 2013. My experience of Thailand prior to that time was one of a hot and humid tropical climate, I was totally unprepared for the cold. I arrived dressed in shorts and t-shirt. There are shops there that sell cool climate clothing, but most people that live in that area are several sizes smaller than me and the best I could do was borrow a shawl from one of the campers, and huddle up around a camp fire to keep warm. We opted to sleep in the car vs the tent, and when we woke, to my surprise, there was a thick frost on the roof of the car and a light frost on the ground. Another thing I learned on this first visit – Toyota do not include heaters for cars sold in Thailand. It was a cold night, but a very enjoyable time sitting around the fires chatting (or at least trying to chat) with the locals.
You will not see many western faces in the Phu Tub Berk area, but in the holiday season it can become a little crowded as it is a very popular destination for the many Thais that enjoy a short escape from the tropical heat.