I had been traveling for almost 12 months and I can say that Phu Chi Fa is a place that offers one of the most incredible sunrises that you can imagine. It is a mountain area that reaches 1.628 mts above sea level (1.442 mts according to Google), located at the north of Thailand, just 100kms away from Chiang Rai City. Every morning at 6-6:30 am a sea of clouds passes through the mountain range that covers the border towns of Thailand and Laos. It is surreal.
Plenty of agencies in Chiang Rai offer expensive vans and tours to get there. So, I decided to rent a semi-automatic motorbike and dragged my Dutch friend Wiljen (#whereiswiljen) and his motorbike to Phu Chi Fa. I read a lot of blogs saying that it was dangerous to go by bike so I was skeptical at the beginning. Definetely not a road for beginners but it was incredible and beautiful… perfectly doable. Limestones, rice fields, mountains, rivers, red and purple leaves on the trees, just an incredible ride. There were some pot holes on the way and sometimes very steep roads so we had to watch our speed. We got there at 3pm after leaving at 12pm and stopping for lunch (calculate 2-3 hours). It was great, we hiked during the afternoon and had a clear view of Laos.
Afterwards, we looked for a guesthouse. That was a bit of a hassle but we found a room for 500B with dinner included and a nice view (250 B each, approx. 7 USD). There are plenty of guesthouses, always remember to bargain. After dinner we went to sleep early to wake up next day at 5am. It was a very cold night and morning, so bring layers. The viewpoint got really packed of tourists but you could easily get a good spot for the view.
At 6:30am the Sun came out and it was just incredible. A sea of mist covering the mountains and a red/orange background completing a perfect scenery… out of this world. We enjoyed the view for a while, talked to some people and then went back to Chiang Rai before midday. Again, the ride was amazing.
TIPS FOR PHU CHI FA:
– If you are going by car or scooter, make sure you have a GPS or app with offline maps. I recommend Maps.Me.
– Bring layers as it gets really cold
– Bring some food since there are not so many options once you are there
– Try spending the night there so you can appreciate the afternoon view too, its worth it.
– If riding a motorbike, make sure it has gears, an automatic will not make it (rent it for 100-200 B, approx. 3-6 USD)
– Try coming with someone else to split the cost of the homestay