Getting to Phu Chi Fa, Chiang Rai
Although the peak of Phu Chi Fa extends into Laos’ borders, the entrance to the national park is in Thailand. The nearest international airport is Chiang Rai. From the city of Chiang Rai, there are a few ways to reach Phu Chi Fa.
When we were there (Dec’15), there was a small counter at the Chiang Rai bus station with an overhanging sign that says “Phu Chi Fa”. Buses leave daily at 1pm with tickets at 135baht each (the return bus is at 9am the following morning, since most travellers go for the sunrise).
We didn’t stay overnight at Phu Chi Fa, but saw many campers at a camp site with toilets right at the base of the hike. The bus ticket seller also mentioned that the bus would stop at guesthouses near the start of the hike.
Instead, Sylvie and I rented a car (with driver) from our hostel given that we needed to head for Laos the next day. For 3,000 baht, our driver agreed to leave Chiang Rai at 3am to catch the sunrise at Phu Chi Fa, before moving on to Chiang Khong, where he would drop us to cross the borders by foot to HuayXai, Laos. But if we were to return to Chiang Rai, the return car trip would cost 2,000 baht (~2 hours one-way).
The hike is a short walk up a gentle slope – we took about 20 min. Pretty straightforward, no guide needed. Just remember to bring a head torch as it’s pitch black before sunrise and lotsa warm clothing for the strong winds at the peak.
There will be lotsa other travellers (mostly locals) on the summit, but there’s plenty of space on the mountain to ensure everyone gets a good view of the sunrise.
Planning for a trip to Chiang Rai? Here’s where we stayed (highly recommended!)