So you’ve discovered the beauty of Phu Chi Fa, a true hidden gem located in the northern mountains of Thailand. A paradise for locals and a secret for tourists, Phu Chi Fa is simply enchanting.
To make the journey easier for you, I’m going to lay out every detail about Phu Chi Fa: how to get there, where to stay, and what to see to make your journey as easy as possible.
When To Visit Phu Chi Fa
The best part about this Thailand destination is that you can enjoy it all day long. However, there are two specific times of the day that are more magnificent than others:
The most beautiful time to visit Phu Chi Fa is for sunrise.
Every picture you see of this mountain is most definitely at dawn; it is the most popular time of the day for this area and for good reason.
What most people don’t realize though is that Phu Chi Fa is a spectacle at sunset, too.
After we settled into our bungalow, our driver took us up to the top of the mountain to watch the sunset. There were fewer people at night and the sky turned the most brilliant shade of gold.
If you get the chance, I recommend visiting Phu Chi Fa for both sunrise and sunset.
How To Get To Phu Chi Fa
Before venturing to Phu Chi Fa, I did hours and hours of research. Trying to find the easiest way to get to this coveted place was difficult; information was very limited. After a successful visit, I learned that there are several ways to reach this part of northern Thailand.
You can reach Chiang Rai from Bangkok or Chiang Mai by bus, train, or airplane. The best option for us was to fly, which was very affordable and it took a fraction of the time compared to the bus or train.
Psst! If you’re looking for the cheapest flight options, check out my recent blog post: 7 Skyscanner Tricks for Booking the Cheapest Flights. We use these simple tricks to save hundreds on flights.
Chiang Rai To Phu Chi Fa
Once you make it to Chiang Rai, you’ll need to figure out how to make it the final two hours to Phu Chi Fa. Here are your options:
1. Rent A Motorbike
The easiest way to get anywhere in Thailand is to rent a motorbike.
Motorbike rentals are easy to find, especially in a city like Chiang Rai. Renting for a day or two will be very affordable; rates typically don’t exceed $6 USD per day. Be sure to bring cash and your passport!
The ride up to Phu Chi Fa is approximately two hours from Chiang Rai. Although this doesn’t seem far away, the roads are very windy.
Take caution around turns and steep grades; the rules of the road in Thailand are much different than what westerners are used to.
Pro-Tip: Be sure to get a helmet with your motorbike rental! Your brain will thank me later!
2. Hire A Private Taxi
Hiring a private taxi seems to be a popular choice among travelers. Since this drive is about two hours from Chiang Rai, you’ll need your driver to pick you up no later than 3:30am in order to make it for sunrise.
Although this is a convenient option for many tourists, it isn’t ideal for budget travelers. Taxi drivers ask for 2,500-3,000 baht ($80-100 USD) to make this drive.
You can find a private taxi up to Phu Chi Fa through your accommodation hosts or through the Grab app. If you haven’t yet used the Grab app in Thailand, I highly recommend downloading it. It’s the easiest way to find regulated taxis.
3. Take The Bus
On a budget? No problem. The cheapest way to get to Phu Chi Fa is by bus.
The first thing you’ll want to do is take a bus from Chiang Rai to Doi Luang; a 40-minute ride. From there, you’ll hire a taxi to drive the rest of the way (about 1 hour and 15 minutes).
It’s my understanding that drivers will charge less for a trip up to Phu Chi Fa if you leave from Doi Luang, however, since I have never used this option, I can’t say whether this is true or not.
Where To Stay In Phu Chi Fa
Finding accommodation in Phu Chi Fa was the most difficult part of planning our trip. There just didn’t seem to be any place to stay in the area, especially online.
Luckily, we learned a lot about accommodation options during our journey and we wanted to be thorough so that finding a place to stay is easier for others:
Here is some information about where to stay during your trip to Phu Chi Fa:
Many tourists choose to stay at the campground the night before and hike up to the viewpoint for sunrise.
The campground is very close to Phu Chi Fa, therefore you can walk from the campground to the perfect sunrise location. Tents are available for rent and will cost approximately 200 baht.
When we camped at a national park in Thailand, the campground provided a tent, sleeping bag, and a sleeping mat. I would assume this is the case for the campground at Phu Chi Fa as well.
Prior to visiting Phu Chi Fa, we had no idea where we were going to stay. Instead, we just figured it out along the way.
Luckily, as we arrived in the small village near Phu Chi Fa, we found a nice guesthouse that offered bungalows for $6 USD per night.
Finding accommodation after you’ve arrived in Phu Chi Fa is an excellent option. We noticed several vacant guesthouses and bungalows during our trip. The fact that they’re budget-friendly is amazing, too!
3. Phu Chi Fa Resorts & Hotels
If you like to have accommodation planned out in advance, I suggest booking a room with U Krist Farm Hill.
This resort is within 5 miles of Phu Chi Fa, making a morning ride up the mountain fairly easily.
A night at this resort will cost approximately $60 USD.
4. Stay In Chiang Rai
The last accommodation option for Phu Chi Fa is to stay in Chiang Rai the night before.
This will require you to hire a taxi driver to bring you up to the mountain in the early morning hours. Some people choose this option, however, it isn’t as budget-friendly.
For more details on hiring a taxi driver, check out the transportation section of this guide.
How To Get To The Top of Phu Chi Fa For Sunrise
After settling into our bungalow, we began the trek up the mountain for sunset.
The walk from the village to the trailhead is about a half-mile but it is a very steep trek. If walking to the peak doesn’t interest you, ask your guesthouse host about hiring a driver to take you.
The route to the trailhead is a wide dirt road, so it’s difficult to get lost. If you don’t think you’re going the right way, you probably are. You can always ask a friendly local for directions, too!
If you are staying at the campgrounds, the walk to the trailhead is very easy; only a 5-10 minute walk.
Once you reach the trailhead, the path to the top is very distinct. The trek will be about 800m, so it’s attainable by people of all fitness levels.
The View At The Top of Phu Chi Fa
The best location for sunset is at the very top of the peak. Luckily, there are far fewer people during sunset, so finding a great spot will be easy.
The best location for sunrise is to the right of the peak, about 100 meters down from the tallest part of the mountain. It will be easy to find because the crowds will flock to that spot.
For the best viewing experience, get to the viewpoint early. This will allow you to choose the best location to see the sunrise.
View of The Mekong River And Laos
As you watch the sun dip below the horizon or rise above the valley, you’ll have the most gorgeous view of the Mekong River that snakes through the small villages below.
The view from the top of Phu Chi Fa gives you the best vantage point to see Laos, located on the opposite side of the Mighty Mekong.
If you’re looking to continue your journey around Southeast Asia, this is a great place to cross the border into the next country.
What To Pack For Phu Chi Fa
Since this is such a unique location in Thailand, you’ll need the proper gear. Here are three important things you’ll need to pack:
1. Warm Clothes
After living in Thailand for several months, I never thought I would need warm clothes. The heat in Thailand is almost too great to handle.
At the top of the mountain in those early morning hours before sunrise, you’ll NEED warm clothes. The temperatures in the north plummet at night. Waiting for the sun to rise while wearing shorts and a t-shirt would be miserable. Pack the warm stuff!
2. Toilet Paper
Another item you should bring to Phu Chi Fa (and anywhere in Thailand for that matter) is toilet paper.
Living in Bangkok made me forget that toilet paper is a hot commodity everywhere else in Thailand. Bring a roll of toilet paper or suffer the consequences.
And finally, I suggest that you pack snacks for your trip. Convenient stores in this area close around 6pm; if you can, bring a few sandwiches and treats just in case!
Additional Tips For Visiting Phu Chi Fa
Here are a few more things you should know as you plan your trip to Northern Thailand:
1. Wear Proper Shoes
As you ascend the mountain, the loose gravel can be difficult to walk on. This 800m walk is unmaintained.
Be sure to pack proper athletic so you can walk without issue and reach the top in time for sunrise.
2. Get There Early
I cannot stress enough how important it is to arrive here early.
This is no longer a secret destination for travelers. Plenty of travelers come here each day, so you’ll want to get the best viewing spot.
3. Enjoy The Drive
One of my favorite parts of the entire journey was getting there.
If you are driving yourself to Phu Chi Fa, be sure to stop for beautiful photo opportunities.
If you’re hiring a taxi driver, be sure to settle on a deal that allows you to stop along the way for pictures.
4. Know Before You Go
One of the more unfortunate parts of Phu Chi Fa is that there is a lot of child labor present.
As you begin to hike to the top of the mountain, you’ll likely see several young children dressed in traditional hill tribe outfits as they sing and dance for the tourists.
It’s encouraged not to give them money because it continues the exploitation of these young children.
Although these kids are adorable, taking pictures and giving them tips will not help them.
5. Visit Anytime
A lot of people believe that Phu Chi Fa is only magical at sunrise, but the truth is that this mountain peak is incredible anytime.
Bypass the crowds of people and enjoy this special location during the day.
The Wrap-Up: Exploring Phu Chi Fa
I hope this post helps you reach Phu Chi Fa, one of Thailand’s most beautiful hidden gems.
Catch the golden hour as the sun sinks below the surrounding hills at night and watch the sun gently rise above the layered clouds in the morning.
If you’re looking for the experience of a lifetime, surpass the crowds in southern Thailand and enjoy the charm of its northern counterpart.
Want To Be A Travel Blogger?
Mike and I are able to travel the world full-time and it’s all thanks to our blog.
If you’ve ever thought about starting a travel blog, grab our free guide below where I show you the 6 steps we took to turn our travel blog into a 6-figure business in 16 months.
Enter your name and email address and your guide will be on its way to your inbox!
Like this post? Save it to Pinterest for later!