Travel to enjoy the sea of mist in the Phu Chi Fa and Pha Tang mountains in Chiang Rai province. Gorgeous viewpoints and hill tribe villages, flower gardens, waterfalls, a spectacular sunrise on top of the world and the city’s main pagoda.
With the onset of winter, this is the perfect time to hike up into the mountains and enjoy the sea of mist. Phu Chi Fa Forest Park in Chiang Rai province is one of the main natural attractions of northern Thailand. Did you know that there are tours here all year round, but the sea of mist is thickest from November to February?
That’s why we would like to introduce you to the tourist spots you can visit at any time because since you have already ventured high up into the mountains, it’s worth visiting every stop. And for those of you who would like to travel during the low season to avoid the crowds, you can make your plans as to where to take your best shots.
Phu Chi Fa (ภูชี้ฟ้า), also known as the Phu Chee Fah mountain, located in Thoeng sub-district, Chiang Rai province, is one of the highest peaks of Doi Pha Mon mountain range, which serves as a natural boundary between Thailand and Laos. The mountain owes its name to its shape — a sharp peak reaching into the sky with a boundless sea of mist during sunrise — mountain’s beauty defies words, and the romantic atmosphere can compete with any European mountain trip.
This tour is recommended as an additional route when traveling along the Chiang Rai loop or to Doi Ang Khang. Before traveling through the mountainous regions, do not forget to read our article on why brakes can fail on an automatic scooter and how to fix them. Also do not forget our tips for riders in Thailand.
Location: Chiang Rai Province
Area: 120,000 rai (192 sq.km.)
National Park Established: 6 February 1998
Elevation: 1,442 m
Prominence: 222 m
Mountain range: Phi Pan Nam Range
Best visiting time: Nov. – Feb.
Visitors: 197,144 (2019)
If you are riding a scooter or motorcycle, you can to visit the hill-tribe villages and go further to Doi Pha Tung and other tourist spots quite comfortably. If you are traveling by bus, you can catch your ride at the passenger bus stations in various villages or even hire a songthaew (Thai pick-up truck) to get you around.
If you want to use public transport, a comfortable bus leaves from Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3 to Thoeng town once a day. One-way fare is 270-350 baht. Travel time is approximately 5 hours. After that, you will need to hire a taxi, which for an additional 500-600 baht will take you to your destination.
Make your first stop at the hot springs along the main road. There are several places worth paying attention to here. Firstly, a fountain, from which a jet of hot water is pouring several meters upwards. Here you can take a photo as a souvenir. Secondly, you will find here hot mineral baths for your feet, where you can sit for a few minutes and relax for free. Well, thirdly, a stone bath with water whose temperature reaches 98 degrees Celsius. When you come to this stone bath, you will definitely be offered to buy quail eggs in a wicker basket, which you can boil and eat right there.
Around you will find many souvenir shops, 7-Eleven, several cafes.
Be careful when shopping for jewelry. Once, in this place, a jewelry seller sold us expensive earrings, which, according to him, were made of real gold. When we returned home, it turned out that it was imitation jewelry, not gold. We had to go to the police, who helped us get the money back. However, time was wasted.
This was not a seller’s mistake, or a language barrier misunderstanding. We are local and speak excellent Thai, and before paying the money, we asked the seller a lot of clarifying questions. However, we were deceived.
Before you cross the border of Lampang and Phayao provinces, you will meet Tan Tong waterfall on your way. By the way, if you suddenly do not know yet, during your trip to Pu Chi Fa, your path lies through 4 provinces of northern Thailand. Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai – Lampang – Phayao. And only after you enter Chiang Rai province again, you reach the top of Phu Chi Fa Mountain.
If you’ve seen dinosaurs, congratulations! Are you in Phayao Province! Keep left – there is an exit from the main road. Time for a selfie!
Anyway, if you go to Pu Chi Fa, then you go there overnight to see one of the most delightful sunrises in the world. This means you have a lot of time to explore other attractions that you will meet along the way. Why don’t you turn off the main road for a couple of hours?
Phayao Lake began from the collapse of the lithosphere about 70 million years ago. In the past, the area around Phayao Lake was the area where water from the mountains flowed into streams, rivers, and became small swamps during the dry season every year. Tens year ago the area of Phayao Lake was the urban area which had a lot of temples before. Later, when the Department of Fisheries created a water gate in Phayao to keep water, the temple was submerged in the area.
Bor Sib Song (Well #12) is a tourist attraction of Phayao Province. It is located at Ban Tom Sub-district, Mueang Phayao District. It is a forest and rock cliff. There have many large stones. There is a viewpoint as a cliff protruding (local people call it Phu Chee Fa Noi).
After you get to this point – follow the signs. First, you will have to drive on a dirt road, and at the very end you will need to walk about 500 meters. If there was no rain, the dirt road will be dry and you will have no trouble getting to your destination.
Located on top of Doi Busarakham, 20 kilometers west of the town of Phayao, Wat Analyo is renowned for its large seated Buddha image in classic Sukhothai style. The grounds of the temple are dotted with many more beautiful Buddha statues in different postures along with the Rattana Chedi in the Indian Bodh Gaya style and a Chinese pavilion housing Guan Yin Bodhisattva.
Before reaching several kilometers to Phu Chi Fa, you will encounter another waterfall. Located in the area of Doi Phu Sang National Park, Phu Sang is a famous small waterfall filled with warm water from the hot springs. You can even take a swim! There is also a natural warm water pond where the water temperature is around 35°C nearby.
Also located in the Phu Chee Fah area, this viewpoint offers views of the sea of mist. Visitors can pitch a tent in the camping area or find accommodations at one of many resorts in the area nearby.
According to Wiki, the height of the mountain is 1,442 meters (4,731 feet). The very top of the mountain offers a 360-degree, panoramic view of rare beauty. To see the sea of mist and to watch the sunrise, you will have to take a 1,5km hike up the mountain from Rom Fa Tong village, located next to the trail.
Your walk will have to begin early in the morning while it’s still dark, so you can welcome the first light of a new day. On the way down, among the wild Himalayan cherry trees, you can stop to watch the birds and study the nature around you.
If you want to meet the dawn on the top of the mountain, you will want to use this website to check the time of sunrise on the day in question at this link – https://email@example.com,100.4516864
Note that “sunrise” is the time when the sun has already risen above the horizon. Thus, to see the dawn, you need to hike to the top of the mountain about 1 hour earlier.
But do not forget that you will need time to prepare for the day and get from your guesthouse to the foot of the peak and climb to the top. If the sunrise is at 6 a.m., then to see the dawn you need to wake up at about 4 a.m. to be at the top of the mountain at 5 a.m. That is if the sunrise is at 6 a.m., then to see the dawn you need to wake up at about 4 a.m. to be at the top of the mountain at 5 a.m.
After dawn and sunrise, you can also see how the misty sea dissipates and the mountains that separate Thailand and Laos appear from the thick white fog.
The entire morning and round trip to the top of the mountain and back will take about 3.5-4 hours. Therefore, do not forget to bring drinking water and sandwiches with you to the top of the mountain.
This is the spot to enjoy the beauty of blossoming wild Himalayan cherry trees. There are more than 5,000 trees in the area. There is also a camping area where you can pitch your tent and toilet and other facilities provided for the tourists.
If you go a little further, after you pass Phu Chee Fah, you will reach the Phu Chi Dao viewpoint. Starting to go to the top of the mountain in Thailand, reaching the highest point you will find yourself in Laos. On the way to the top, you can take a picture with the border post, and then tell your friends about the illegal crossing of the state border of the country which they probably do not know about =)
Located near the main viewpoint of the mountain, this is another spot that is perfect for an additional change to see the sea of mist and more wonderful scenic views against the backdrop of the Mekong river.
Correct point on Google maps 19.931140, 100.519447
Image source: https://readme.me/p/28899
This is possibly the best viewpoint in the area. It offers a 360-degree view of the mountains and the misty sea. There are many places around that are perfect for your Facebook or Instagram photo report. And, most importantly, this place is not as popular as the main summit, and therefore there is a very high chance that no one else will be here. But there is one small caveat. You can only get here by SUV. You can hire a guide with an off-road vehicle at any local resort.
After visiting Phu Chifa, you can head to Chiang Rai and continue your journey through northern Thailand.
At the time of writing this guide, the daytime temperature in Chiang Mai is 32°C, Chiang Rai is 29°C, while the nighttime temperature at the top of Pu Chi Fa is only 6°C.
Before you go to the mountain, be sure to check the local weather forecast and take a rain jacket with you, just in case. Also, do not forget warm clothes if you spend the night in camping. Below you see the weather forecast for this week. Note how cold it is in the mountains at night right now, compared to the daytime temperatures in the cities on the plain at the foot of the mountains.
If you are going to Pu Chi Fa from Chiang Mai, note that it is advisable to spend at least 2 days to visit this place, as you will meet the sunrise here. There is no point in going here early in the morning to return the same day late in the evening.
From Chiang Mai you can reach this place by renting a motorcycle from our company or renting a car from one of the rentals in Chiang Mai.
You can also get there by public transportation, but be aware that you will have to make several transfers. First you need to get from your hotel to the Chiang Mai bus station. You can use the inDriver app to hire a coach. If you live in the old city area, a cab from your hotel to the bus station will not cost more than 100 baht.
Then, you will ride in an air-conditioned bus for about 5-6 hours until you arrive at the Thoeng Bus Station. The ticket price for the Chiang Mai to Thoeng bus is about 250-350 baht.
Then, you will have to hire a cab to take you to the foot of the summit, where you can rent a room to spend the night near the top. The cost of a cab from the Thoeng bus station to Pu Chi Fa will be about 500-600 baht, the travel time is about 30-40 minutes.
A passenger pickup truck goes from the foot of the summit to the top every morning. The cost is only 50 baht. Any employee of any hostel or hotel is happy to book a trip for you and wake you up early in the morning so you do not oversleep the sunrise.
If you are going to Phu Chi Fa from Chiang Rai, you must first go to Chiang Rai Bus Station. Once at the bus station you will find a sign “Phu Chi Fa” on the second or third platform. It will be a minibus ride. The duration of the trip is approximately 2-3 hours. The cost is approximately 150-200 baht per person. Minibus leaves twice a day, at 7:11 and 13:00.
Well, and of course if you are going in a group of several people, you can hire a minibus or a passenger pickup truck. The cost of hire a minibus will be about 800-900 baht.
First, look at the schedule of sunrises depending on the time of year. Then, plan your awakening so that you wake up 2 hours before sunrise and have 20-30 minutes to get to the top of the mountain, because “sunrise” means that the sun has already risen and appeared above the horizon.
That way, if you time it wrong, you won’t see the dawn and will arrive at the top of the mountain when the fun part is over.
Also note that there are often crowds of tourists in this place. If you want to see the sunrise in a more secluded atmosphere then after hiking to the top of Phu Chi Fa go to the hill number 104 that we wrote about above.
Phu Chi Fa Forest Park Address: Tap Tao, Thoeng District, Chiang Rai, 57310, Thailand
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/AERDk4JzJnapXJcV7
Opening Hours: Daily 5:00 – 18:00
Contact: (053) 71-74-33, (053) 74-46-74, (053) 74-46-75
There are a lot of inexpensive hostels and luxury glamping in this place. But not all of them you can find on hotel booking platforms. First of all, we advise you to use Google maps, where you can find places of accommodation and contact them directly.
Having found the icon of a resort or hotel on the Google Maps, you can click on it and in the detailed description get the contact information of the hotel (phone number, address, point on the map).
The most famous of them (the relevant image is located after the accommodation name):
Sky Camp (+66654152494)
Homestay & Camping (+66947064196)
Phu Fa Aree (+66932588401)
Phu Fah Aree 2 (+66932588401)
Happy Camp (+66967035245)
Faed Resort ex. Twin View (+66821925159)
Luck Resort (+66816731216)
Phu Mok Dok Mai Resort (+66895056461)
Blue Gold Hostel Guesthouse (+66899568893)
Baan Rabieng Faa (+66818855721)
You can contact any of these hotels / resorts / hostels via Whatsapp or Line messenger.
The views there are truly breathtaking and mesmerizing. We recommend this place to visit! If you go to this place by bike, it is best to use a semi-auto motorbike or a motorcycle with a manual gearbox. It is safer on mountain slopes with a long descent.