Phu Chi Fa: A Sea of Mist
With 30+ million international tourists visiting Thailand last year, it is not often that you hear of a spot so popular with Thai tourists, yet unheard of by most westerners. Let me introduce the rarity as a mountain area reachable from Chiang Rai, bordering Laos, called Phu Chi Fa. It is most famous for its sunrise view and “sea of mist.” Being a teacher in Chiang Mai, I often try to capitalize on my weekends and visit new places that are easily reachable from the city. While Phu Chi Fa isn’t exactly as easily reachable from Chiang Mai as I would like, a coworker and I decided to make it happen anyway.
On one early Saturday morning in January, we started our journey. It required a three-hour bus to Chiang Rai, followed by another three-hour minivan ride to Phu Chi Fa. The travel day was pretty awful and led my friend and I to question our decision to try it on a two-day weekend. After surviving the journey, we made it to the small village in the mountain area at around 5pm. The first order of business was to find a guesthouse to stay for the night. Due to the fact that this place is almost exclusively known to Thais, this was a harder task than imagined. Luckily, my friend knew enough Thai to get by and we found our guesthouse room fairly quickly. After that, we rushed up to see sunset and then got a nice roadside dinner back in the village before going to bed.
The next morning, we awoke at 5 am to see the reason why we made such a lengthy trip. Due to the high elevation and it being “winter” in Thailand, we dressed in our warmest clothes and headed to the viewpoint. It may not be an exaggeration to say that the whole village was up at the viewpoint. Flash lights, kids singing, and small stands with hot coffee filled the base of the viewpoint. After waiting in what I can safely say was the coldest temperature I’ve experienced yet in Thailand, we finally saw what we came here for. As the sun peaked over the mountains, we were mesmerized in the beauty of what was before us. We spent the next hour enjoying the view and taking pictures before heading back down as the sea of mist disappeared.
After eating breakfast, we made our way home. As much as I hated the fact that the majority of my weekend was sitting on a bus, that one-hour of pure majestic beauty was worth it. I definitely recommend this Thai hot spot if you are in Chiang Rai (or even Chiang Mai if you are as crazy as us). You will not be disappointed.