Mount Phu Chi fa is one of those destinations famous among Thais, but hardly known to foreigners. Like other places in Thailand that we have told you about in the past −Khao Kho, Kaeng Krachan, Kui Buri, Sangkhlaburi, etc−, Phu Chi Fa is one of those places about which there is not much online information in English, despite being excellent destinations.
Phu Chi Fa is especially popular among Thais as one of the best places in Thailand to watch the sunrise. The mountain, with an altitude of about 1,450 meters, is located in a remote area right next to the border with Laos. From its summit you can see a great Laotian valley that is usually covered with clouds in the morning. The famous thale mok (sea of fog) that Thais love so much.
Phu Chi Fa is recommended for those who travel with enough time and do not mind getting lost in the middle of nowhere. Without much more to do other than enjoy the pure air and nature, in a totally unspoiled environment, where it is highly unlikely to find any other foreign tourists. You will need to keep an open mind and improvise, since the little tourist infrastructure does not allow much planning (unless you visit with a travel agency). So a certain degree of adventure is guaranteed!
Reaching the impressive summit of Phu Chi Fa
When you reach the end of the road that climbs up Phu Chi fa, you will find a parking lot surrounded by several souvenir shops run by local ethnic people. There are also girls dressed in their traditional costumes, asking visitors for money. As always, it is best not to give them anything, so that their parents do not encourage this activity and they are more likely to attend school.
A path that starts next to the parking lot leads to the impressive mountaintop. You won’t have to walk much, and in about 15 minutes you will reach the summit, where there is a huge and locally famous cliff from which you get breathtaking views over a large Laotian valley to the east.
How to go to Phu Chi fa from Chiang Rai?
We rented a car for about 1000 THB a day, and drove the 95 km from Chiang Rai in about 2 hours. The road is fine, and the closer you get to the mountain, the more interesting the scenary becomes. You’ll find rice fields, forests, small towns and cafes along the way. If you drive your own wheels, the route has no difficulty. You can see it here. If you don’t want to drive, there is also the option of renting a private transport with driver from your hotel (about THB 3000-3500 for the round trip).
Riding a motorbike is also a good option, and in Chiang Rai you will find many rental shops.
Using public transport is also an option, just keep in mind that it will practically force you to spend the night there. Which is not a bad thing at all if, as I said, you don’t mind being in the middle of nowhere. The main advantage of spending a night there is that you’ll be able to enjoy the most famous activity can do at Phu Chi Fa: watch the sunrise from the top of the mountain.
Once there, you will easily find accommodation, either in guest houses or in tents. A double room in a guest house costs about 500 THB, while tents, as you can see in the picture below, have unbeatable views.
From Chiang Rai bus station (the Old Bus Station or Bus Terminal 1) there are daily buses departing around 13-13: 30. I recommend getting there well in advance, or even better the day before, to confirm availability and book the seats if possible. Tickets cost about THB 150-200 per way.