Phu Chi Fa is one of the most famous destinations in Chiang Rai. Many visitors come here to climp up to the summit to be amazed by the sea of mist during the sunrise. The cliff offers a spectacular view of the mountain valleys to Laos standing on a 1,6 km hill.
Phu Chi Fa summit
Phu Chi Fa translated from Thai means ‘hill that points to the sky’. It is a grassy promontory peak in Chiang Rai province Doi Pa Mohn mountain range. The pointy rock end is where you could easily fall to Laos if you are not careful enough or do a selfie as many others do. I can imagine, that’s the place where all the stories how people die after making a selfie are born. But if you are not afraid of heights you can make a great picture with a mountain view. Of course there is a warning sign to warn you it’s dangerous. But as I said if you are careful enough and not afraid of heights, you’ll be absolutely fine.
On the road
Getting to this wonderful summit is not an easy job. You have to pass through the mountain roads which go up and down. And if you are going from Chiang Rai (which is the nearest big city around) it’s 101 km to get to your goal. For this you either need to rent a motorbike or car and drive all the way. Or you can simply get the tour in the city. But we like to be independent while we traveling. Don’t we?
If you ask me why we took the motorbike, there a few reasons. Firstly, it’s convenient. You can stop where you want and go off the road when you decide to visit something on your way. You can change your direction and even a plan (if it’s necessary).
Secondly, timing and good schedule. Who doesn’t like to get up whenever he wants? Tour means conciliating to others schedules and model of the trip. I guess you like to be in control of your time. And that’s what we did.
Thirdly, money! The tour from Chiang Rai to Phu Chi Fa costs 2500 Baht for two persons, car rent is about 1500 Baht and the motorbike for two is only 300 Baht. Now you see my point of view, right?
Getting all you can
While it’s a mountain area and the summit is very popular among Thai tourists it’s good to book your stay in advance. We had some hard time finding a place to stay, but we should mention that it was a day before New Year as well. And if you have a tent you should be just fine. There is plenty of place where you can make a camp. Or even rent a tent on the edge of the mountain with great valley view.
If you have time, there is another summit close by. It’s called Doi Pha Tang. You still need to drive 20 km from Phu Chi Fa, but you don’t want to miss the view. There are locals who can take you up with ponies, but we are against animal abuse. Same as riding on an elephant back. Be kind and don’t support animal tourism.
Another thing that you need to know about this magical place: be there on the right time. You can enjoy spectacular views at the evening, night and early morning. Being exact it is 4.30 a.m. and 6.30 a.m. in the morning, and 5 p.m. for the sunset. I know, that’s early! But you come to this place to experience adventures, not to spend all day in bed. You will climb up to the mountain with big group of people and that’s works as a good motivation I can say.
Enjoy, relax and meditate
It is the best place to feel a good vibe and feel the peacefulness coming back to your soul. So don’t waste your time and enjoy it, take it all in! Mountain air will easily take your breath away. The natural beauty and serenity of the area is stunning, it’s not hard to leave all your troubles far away. While we think it’s the best place we visited in Thailand so far, we want to share another unique place that can leave you speechless as well.
During an early morning hours when the night time starlight starts to fade away, you will start to see the golden light coming from the east. Then the sun starts rise slowly above the sea of mist in mountain valleys. Only after the daylight shines through the ocean of clouds the valley of Northern Laos is exposed. You can see the small village right below your feet and a splendid Mekong river in the distance.
Thai tricks for money
On the top of the hill, after the sunrise you will start to notice a lot of colorful little girls. Children aged from 4 to 7 stand, sing, sit, dance to entertain tourists and in this way they get some money. People pay them to make pictures with girls dressed in traditional Thai dresses. Fee is not big, it’s simply 20 Baht (0,55 euro).
I read some info that tourist shouldn’t give money for kids. Because this way parent won’t let them to school while they earn a good money. But in this way, being in the middle of the mountains villagers probably don’t get a chance to go to university anyway. And I thought maybe the family will have more money to buy a proper dinner. To have something more nutrient than only white rice. In the end, it’s all up to you.
We were so happy to be in the nature finally. After all this time spent in the cities. I guess, no one was more crazy than us on that mountain! Traveling together gave a lot of joy for us so far, but it was one of those moment you will remember forever.
All words by Eisve Treciakauskaite and all images by Justinas Lekavicius, unless otherwise noted.