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A Guide to Chasing the Sunrise in Phu Chi Fa (+ Essential Things to Know Before Visiting)

A Guide to Chasing the Sunrise in Phu Chi Fa (+ Essential Things to Know Before Visiting) 

We’re not kidding when we say you’ve never seen sunrise unless you’ve seen it from Phu Chi Fa. Yup, daybreak here is dubbed the best sunrise on Planet Thailand so get ready for a jaw-dropping experience on your visit (as we did).

Plus, if your wanderlust means packing a bag and going on a hike, then Phu Chi Fa Forest Park will blow you away. In Phu Chi Fa, the breathtaking peaks and cloudy mountainscapes are tough to beat. 

But what’s a treasure if you can’t get through it, right? So, in our complete guide, we’re letting you in on all the info you need to make your Phu Chi Fa Forest Park adventure in Chiang Rai every bit as awesome!

Things to Know

Location: Tap Tao, Wiang Kaen District, Chiang Rai

Operating Hours: 4:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 5371 4914


Admission Cost:  Free

Facilities Inside Phu Chi Fa Forest Park

Camping Sites: Phu Chi Fa Forest Park has two campsites: at the park’s entrance and Watershed Management Ngao – Ngao. The latter is unique because of its numerous Himalayan cherry trees.

Viewpoint: Phu Chi Fa Viewpoint is the highest and most popular spot within the park. It offers a breathtaking view of the Thai-Laos border in the Doi Pha Mon mountain range.

Bathrooms: There are free bathroom and shower facilities within Phu Chi Fa Forest Park. You can find them at the campsites and the parking area.

Parking Area: The park has free parking areas at the campsites and the viewpoint’s trailhead.

Shops: There are shops and food stalls in Phu Chi Fa Forest Park’s parking area selling snacks, drinks, clothes, souvenirs, and more.

Hiking at Phu Chi Fa Forest Park

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The Phu Chi Fa Forest Park hike starts at the trailhead near the car park. From there, you’ll find a straightforward 790-meter uphill dirt road leading to the viewpoint’s rocky summit—it’s steep but not too difficult.

We recommend using the bathroom facilities in this car park before climbing because there are no facilities at the summit. You can also buy snacks for the hike, but be sure to carry your trash with you back to the trail’s base point.

In the winter months, you must wear thick clothes because the trail gets chilly, especially the higher you climb. We think it’s much better than dealing with a muddy trail during the monsoon season.

Our team started the hike at 3 a.m. because it takes 15 to 20 minutes to reach the summit and we wanted to catch a glimpse of the daybreak. A flashlight is essential when hiking during this time because the trail is dark.

A benefit of hiking Phu Chi Fa Forest Park during the cool months is the frequent occurrence of cloud formations at the summit. It’s perfect when you plan to get stunning photos of the surrounding mountainscape.

There’s a country marker near the viewpoint that shows where Thailand ends and where Laos begins. Tourists go there to step back and forth between the two countries for fun (Thankfully, there’s no border patrol at that point).

Important Tips When Hiking at Phu Chi Fa Forest Park

  • Plan carefully and check your weather apps before hiking.
  • Always hike with someone. Otherwise, we recommend hiring a tour guide.
  • Wear a proper hiking outfit.
  • Bring hiking essentials: water, energy bars, a Swiss army knife, a flashlight, a firestarter, a charged phone, and a compass.
  • Don’t cross the Thai-Laos border. It’s illegal without proper documentation.
  • Avoid feeding wildlife.

Best Time to Visit Phu Chi Fa Forest Park

The best time to visit Phu Chi Fa Forest Park is during the cool and dry months of November to January. During this time, you can enjoy the activities within the park without the threat of rainfall and hot weather.

December and January, in particular, are perfect because that’s when Himalayan cherry trees bloom. As for the time of the day, we recommend hiking the park early in the morning and late in the afternoon to witness its breathtaking sunrise and sunset views. 

How to Get to Phu Chi Fa Forest Park

Rental Car: Borrowing a rental car is the best way to get to Phu Chi Fa Forest Park in Chiang Rai. You only need to submit a driver’s license with your International Driving Permit (IDP) to rent a car in the province. 

We suggest renting a high-horsepower vehicle like a pickup truck as some parts of the road to the park are steep, winding, and full of potholes.

From Chiang Rai City, drive south via Phaholyothin Frontage Road and turn to Highway 1020, Highway 1421, and Highway 1020. Continue at Highway 4018, switch to Highway 1155, make a sharp left turn to Highway 1093, and follow the blue road sign to the park.

Taxi: Though this method is expensive, it’s also convenient since you don’t have to study the route from Chiang Rai City to Phu Chi Fa Forest Park. A one-way taxi ride costs between 1000 and 1300 baht, and can take around 90 minutes.

Minivan: You can find a minivan that departs daily from Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1 to Phu Chi Fa at 1 p.m. It will drop you off at the police checkpoint in Phu Chi Fa town after a 3 to 4-hour trip, so you’ll typically arrive at the park in time for the sunset.

Bear in mind that it’s the only minivan that runs this route, so be sure to arrive at the bus terminal at least an hour before departure time to secure a seat. It’s also the same minivan that can take you back to Chiang Rai the next day.

Public Bus: Riding a public bus is a good way to get to Phu Chi Fa Forest Park if you’re coming from Chiang Mai.

However, the bus in Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3 can only take you to Thoeng Bus Station, so you still need a 55-minute taxi ride to reach the park.

A bus ride from Chiang Mai to Thoeng Town takes approximately 5 hours and the taxi ride to the park takes about 55 minutes. This bus runs once per day, so be sure to get to the terminal early to secure your spot or buy a ticket the day before.

What to See and Do in Phu Chi Fa Forest Park

Hike to Phu Chi Fa Viewpoint’s rocky summit

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The hiking enthusiasts on our team say climbing the trail to Phu Chi Fa Viewpoint is one of the more fun experiences within the park. It’s a 790-meter uphill trail, so expect to reach the viewpoint’s summit after hiking for 15 to 20 minutes.

This trail is straightforward, but the steep dirt track can be challenging, especially if you aren’t wearing proper footwear. That’s why hiking it during the monsoon season isn’t ideal because the trail also becomes muddy and slippery.

The best thing about hiking to Phu Chi Fa Viewpoint is you already see breathtaking mountainscapes even before reaching the summit. It’s even more worth it once you reach the summit and see Phu Chi Fa Forest Park’s most spectacular view.

Watch the stunning sunset view at the summit

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One of the first sights you’ll see in Phu Chi Fa Forest Park is the breathtaking sunset at its viewpoint’s summit. That’s because public transportation to Phu Chi Fa Town usually arrives around 5 p.m. which gives you enough time to hike to the viewpoint.

The sunset view in Phu Chi Fa is a must-see because it blends perfectly with the mountainous peaks and cloudy mists along the Thai-Laos border. If you enjoyed seeing the sunset here, you’ll also appreciate the view during the blue hour.

This happens right after sunset so you’ll notice it immediately once the sky casts a deep blue hue. Bear in mind that it will be dark after the blue hour, so be sure to carry a flashlight with you to make your descent to the park’s base much easier.

Witness the beautiful daybreak at the summit

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Phu Chi Fa Forest Park is well-known for its incredible sunrise and sunset views, but we think it’s definitely worth visiting to watch the breathtaking daybreak at its summit. 

In case you didn’t know, the daybreak occurs right before sunrise. That means you’ll see the beautiful moment when sunlight first appears in the night sky.

If you like filming videos, by the way, this moment is perfect for shooting a time-lapse. In fact, you can use it as an introduction scene for video projects like vlogs, school presentations, documentaries, indie films, and more.

Photograph the cloudy mountainscapes surrounding Phu Chi Fa

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The view from the peaks of Phu Chi Fa Forest Park is one of the most photographed sights in Chiang Rai. That’s why it attracts crowds of local and foreign visitors who want to take stunning photos of the park’s mountainous summit.

Aside from the beautiful sunrise and sunset views, the park is also well-known for its cloudy mountainscapes. On foggy days, the view from the park’s viewpoint makes it feel like you’re over a sea of clouds, and we think it’s definitely worth capturing.

Plus, it’s the perfect scenery to share with your followers on social media. Otherwise, you can print and frame the photo to display at home or gift it to your friends and family.

Traverse the looped trail in Phu Chi Fa Forest Park

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For nature lovers, traversing this looped trail within Phu Chi Fa Forest Park is the best way to encounter the local fauna and flora. The first half of the loop is the straightforward trail that leads to the park’s popular viewpoint.

However, once you reach the summit, the second half of the loop will start at the northern trail instead. This way, you can travel through a western forest trail that should return you to the parking area at the viewpoint’s base.

This forest trail, in particular, is one of the best birdwatching spots within the park. You’ll get the chance to encounter the park’s 132 recorded bird species, from red junglefowl to blue-throated barbet, Indian white-eye, Siberian rubythroat, and more.

Follow the extended trail along the Thai-Laos border

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Even if you already love the breathtaking mountainscapes at the Phu Chi Fa Forest Park’s viewpoint, hiking its rocky peaks will make you appreciate them more. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the natural mountain borders of Thailand and Laos to the fullest.

You can do this by following the eastward trail from the viewpoint’s summit towards Phu Chi Dao’s direction. Going here will let you see more sights along the Thai-Laos border so it’s a must-try, especially if you’re hiking with a local tour guide.

Aside from seeing more mountainscapes, traversing this extended trail also gives you a chance to encounter more local fauna and flora. Plus, it’s a quiet trail, so it’s perfect if your goal is to enjoy Phu Chi Fa Forest Park’s rich nature in peace.

See Himalayan cherry blossoms via the Northern Trail

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This short trail is great for couples looking for a romantic spot within Phu Chi Fa Forest Park. It leads to the nearby Watershed Management – Ngao Ngao which is a public park home to numerous Himalayan cherry trees.

From December to January, these trees will bloom giving the entire area a vibrant pink glow. That makes it ideal for romantic morning and afternoon walks with your boo.

There’s also a campsite here which is great if you want to wake up to beautiful cherry blossoms. Don’t forget to take beautiful photos of the cherry blossoms!

Set up a tent at the Phu Chi Fa Forest Park Camping Area

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The camping area in Phu Chi Fa Forest Park is perfect if you want to hike to the viewpoint first thing at dawn. It’s also the place to be if you enjoy stargazing because you can enjoy looking at the shining stars amid the camp’s relaxing atmosphere.

But that’s not all—this is also a free campsite, so you don’t need to pay to set up a tent. You’ll reach the camping area after a 10-minute walk from the park’s entrance next to a brown road sign on the left pointing to its direction.

Speaking of which, this campsite has bathrooms and hot showers, which means you’re already covered for basic hygiene. Just know that the campsite has no food stalls, so be sure to pack food if you plan to stay the night here.

Warm yourself with hot noodles or coffee in the parking area

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Like any mountain peak, Phu Chi Fa Viewpoint’s summit can be chilly early in the morning, so it’s best to warm yourself before and after the hike. There’s a food stall at the parking area where the trail starts, so you’re covered for a quick breakfast.

Unfortunately, the stalls only sell snacks, drinks, hot noodles, and coffee, so the food options are limited. Aside from that, the vendors sell souvenirs, accessories, and traditional Thai clothing.

If you feel underdressed for the chilly hike, buy winter clothes in the stalls. Bathroom facilities are also available here, so we recommend using them because you won’t find any at the viewpoint’s summit.

FAQs about Fuh Chi Fa Forest Park

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