Make sure you have the Phu Chi Fa hike for sunrise on your Northern Thailand Itinerary. One of the best spots in Thailand for a sunrise, and if you’re luckier than me, one of the best spots for a cloud inversion too.
Want a short hike with incredible views? Sit and watch the sunrise over Laos, whilst sitting in Thailand. Then Phu Chi Fa is a must-do for you.
Even though the conditions were not incredible when I went, it was still absolutely worth the early morning alarm and drive to Phu Chi Fa.
Quick Facts about Phu Chi Fa hike, Chiang Rai.
- Distance: Less than 2km out and back
- Time from Chiang Rai: ~2 hour scooter ride
- Time needed: Less than 1 hour for the actual hike
- Best travel time: 30 minutes before sunrise
- Difficulty: Small amount of elevation gain, but nothing crazy.
- Cost: Free
High Points of the Phu Chi Fa hike, Chiang Rai
- Incredible views over into Laos and across Thailand
- Beautiful place to sit and watch the sunrise
- Free entry
- Easy hike that’s not difficult first thing in the morning!
Low Points of the Phu Chi Fa hike, Chiang Rai
- Very popular place, especially one weekends.
- Not guranteed a good sunrise, so just have to pray to the weather gods!
How to get to the Phu Chi Pha hike, Chiang Rai
Not the most accessible place to reach from Chiang Rai. But it’s still a worthwhile adventure to undertake if you’re fancying one of the best sunrise spots in the whole of Thailand.
Although it’s absolutely doable in one day. It would mean a crazy early start (4 AM) and a somewhat uneventful drive in the dark. I’d strongly suggest staying over the night in Phu Chi Fa and then having a much shorter drive the next morning to undertake the hike.
It’s probably worth noting to make sure you get enough fuel for your bike if you’re doing the adventure on a scooter. We had to stop in a tiny village to get fuel from someones house, thankfully I was with someone who could speak fluent Thai!
I stayed at Ukrist Farm Hill Hotel and it was worth the stay.
The hike itself is really straightforward forward and it needs no real explanation. Drive through the national park gates and follow the road right to the top until you see lots of small stalls selling various goodies. Don’t worry if it is colder than you expected, these stalls sell hats, gloves, jumpers etc.
The hike starts at the start of the car park and is signposted to say so.
From here, it’s a small distance up towards Phu Chi Fa.
Make sure you’ve got decent footwear on and you’ve got some sort of headtorch or phone light if you’re going for sunrise.
Shouldn’t take any more than 15-20 minutes to get to the viewpoint.
My Experience of the Phu Chi Fa hike, Chiang Rai
Having missed the hike on my first visit to Chiang Rai, I actually drove all the way from Chiang Mai to Phu Chi Fa. Some 5-hour scooter ride back to the Laos border, and was it worth it?
Despite not having the cloud inversion I wanted, I would say it was still worth the 5 hour’s drive north to see the sun rising over Laos!
It was busier than I had anticipated, but I did visit it on a Saturday morning. I can imagine it is a bit quieter during the week, but even with the locals, it was still a beautiful spot to sit and watch the sunrise over Laos and Thailand.
The hotel I stayed at was really nice, and the sunset from here was beautiful too. There’s another vote not to do this in one day and make sure you head up the night before so you can see the sunsetting over the beautiful layered mountains.
Personally, I love being in the Northern Thai mountains. The never-ending rice fields, winding roads and beautiful Thai people will always be worth the drive. There is a reason that is called the land of smiles and I think Northern Thailand is the epitome of this saying.