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Phu Chi Fa – not many tourists have heard of this place, but its probably one of the most beautiful places in Thailand. Phu Chi Fah (or Phu Chee Fah) Forest Park, is a national park and mountain range located in Thoeng district in Chiang Rai. It’s located 1,628m above sea level in the Doi Pha Mon mountain range. The various viewpoints scattered along it’s cliff path, offer dramatic 360 degree views of the mountain range that forms the Thai/Laos border.
It’s most iconic view, is at sunrise where you can see the mountain tops, peaking above a sea of morning fog. Even the site of this viewpoint itself, is a dramatic image. Standing from afar you can see the silhoutte of it’s jagged cliff-top edge , and the outline of the dramatic cliff-drop, which overlooks a sweeping valley below.
Although well known sites like Doi Inthanon in Chiang Mai receive thousands of visitors each year, in terms of scenery and views, there’s really no comparison to Phu Chi Fa. Although Doi Inthanon mountain maybe the highest point in Thailand, there’s no clear viewpoint from the peak.
Although its cliché to say, the views at the top really are breathtaking (the pictures speak for themselves). From its cliff-tops, its like standing on top of the world, with the heavens at your feet.
The best views are at sunrise, when you’ll see the iconic image of a sea of fog cloaking the mountain peaks. Sunset is also pretty incredible here too, so we recommend arriving in the late afternoon and spending an overnight here, then catching the sunrise the next morning.
Phu Chi Fah is not only great at sunrise and sunset though, the daytime views are also pretty spectacular. When you can see the contours of the snaking valleys and in the far off horizon, you can see the mountains of Laos.
How to get there
Phu Chi Fah from Chiang Rai
Hire a car or bike
Although its possible to self-drive a motorbike or car to Phu Chi Fah, we recommend this for experienced drivers only. Although the road from Chiang Rai to Phu Chi Fah is in good condition, the last thirty minute stretch is a windy road littered with potholes. As such we recommend hiring a local driver, who’s familiar with the local driving conditions and driving style.
There’s a daily minivan that departs Chiang Rai’s Terminal 1 bus station. The minivan gets pretty full, so arrive at least 1.5 hours before departure time to ensure you get a seat. The van usually departs at 1pm, and arrives at the Phu Chi Fa town police checkpoint around 3.5 hours later.
There’s no road up to the viewpoint, so all vehicles have to be left at the foothill where there’s a car park. Then there’s a short 30 minute steep uphill trek to the viewpoint, which is likely to be packed with Thai tourists.
Phu Chi Fah from Chiang Mai
As Phu Chi Fah is around 6 hours drive (non stop) from Chiang Mai, we suggest breaking up the trip and spending a night in Chiang Rai. You could take advantage of this to do some sightseeing around Chiang Rai as well. Alternatively you could arrange a tour to Phu Chi Fa and hire a car and driver from Chiang Mai. For more information about these services contact us
When to Visit
The best time to visit Phu Chi Fa is during the winter months of November –February. This is when you’ll be treated to the iconic foggy sunrise views. The area and viewpoints will be busy with crowds of Thai tourists then.
Although Phu Chi Fah is open year round, some of its guesthouses and local restaurants close during the quiet periods outside of winter.
Phu Chi Fa Accommodation
During the busy season months (Nov-Feb), guesthouses in Phu Chi Fa become pretty full, so its best to reserve a room beforehand. This can be challenging for international tourists, as there’s hardly any information about accommodation in English, and only a few guesthouses have a website. If you do manage to make contact with a guesthouse, chances are they’ll speak hardly any English. Here are a few guesthouses we have found that can be booked online:
Alternatively, you could take a chance, and just arrive early the day before, to get yourself a room. Many of the guesthouses also have camping areas on their sites, where they provide tents and blankets, for those who don’t mind braving the cold for a night.
Its important to reach the view point before sunrise, so you can catch the full beauty of the view. So leave plenty of time for the trek up and to find yourself a good spot
- Unlike the hot tropical daytime temperatures of Thailand, the early morning temperatures at this altitude can drop to around below 10 celcius. So its gets pretty chilly ! Dress warmly and bring a jacket.
- During the busy tourist season (Nov-Feb), there will be vendors selling accessories such as hats and scarfs, and Thai snacks such as instant noodles and coffee
- The steep walk up can be slippery, so bring good footwear (not flip flops)