Thailand's North


Global Mark : 13.47

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 


5 5 1 3 5 2 5 1 3 13.33

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
15 93% (14) 80% (12) 93% (14) 10 to 18 13.60

Description : 
A small village next to the Burmese border to relax, trek and cruise the river down to Chiang Rai

Comments : It would be wrong to reduce this place to a mere pier. It is one of the nicest and most relaxing place of Thailand and there are plenty of trekking opportunities around.

What to do ? Register your name at the police box, just in case something bad happen (actually, for people doing the boat trip only) / Then, relax ! You are covered ! / Walk by the side of the river / Climb the stairs to the nearest temple for a good panoramic view / From there, continue all the way up to the golden Buddha on top of the furthest hill (about 40mn walk) for a glimpse at Burma / Sip a cold beer by the river / Do a trek to tribal villages / Board an house bamboo raft to Chiang Rai (B1300 two days one night trip or B1600 three days two nights plus B200/B300 if Elephant) / More classic : pass a lifejacket on and try to find a seat available on the tourist boast

What you may not like ? Not having enough time to spend in the area / Walking up the hill when it is too hot / The pushy Akha salesgirl at the pier / Having little room to move on the boat as you won't be alone / The lack of cheap rooms 

How long ? The place would deserve a couple of days to cool off...

Where to stay ? 

Hotels  << Get precise info, book online and save money !

bulletGarden Home (053 373015), 396 Moo 14, north of town, turn left just after the river and walk 100m / Rooms w. cold shower 150 (maybe down to 100 if one person), bungalows 300, luxury AC by the river 1000 (but superb !) / Bike 50 per day / Go there for the great lovely flower & fruit garden, the good isolation of each bungalow / What you may not like : the small bungalows, the road right behind the rooms
bulletRiverside Guesthouse (373214), 134 Moo 14, continue down for 100m / Room w. HW shower 200 (1) or 300 (2) / Prices include Continental Breakfast / Trekking & bamboo rafting (cheaper prices ?) / A superb setting next to the river but the garden is not as nice as the above and it is often full of Thai people who seem to enjoy karaoke at night...
bulletThip's Traveler Guesthouse (459312), South part of town, just after bridge / Nice room w. cold shower 100 / Trekking & bamboo rafting / The owner lady likes to gossip but she knows a lot about the area / Small garden but next to main road
bulletNaam Waan Guesthouse, going to the boats, on the right / OK rooms 100 (1) or 150 (2) & small garden but next to a road.
bulletApple Guesthouse (373144), ask at Apple Restaurant opposite the boat jetty to bring you to the guesthouse on a street in the back / Room 150 w. cold shower, Bungalow 200 or 300 w. cold or HW shower / Pleasant environment and nice rooms but rooms and bungalows are facing each other on a row.

Where to eat ? Small restaurants near the bus stop at B25 for a basic dish so ask to see the menu of where you stay. 

Bank ? No bank in Tha Ton. You will have to go to Mai Ai, 8km and B10 away

Internet ? In case of urgency, Maekok River Village Resort has got one computer for B3 per mn

Backpacker's Tips : Andrew Curtis, New Zealand (Oct 08)
« You can get here….just … in a day from Soppong. It’s a great place, the town itself has very little and it is probably more popular with Thai tourists. The massive temple complex up on the hill is a must see for a sun set or sunrise. Stayed at Garden hotel GH and yes do not get room number one… people there were real nice and do deals on moped hire if you do it with a smile. So again like most of northern Thailand, HIRE A BIKE AND GO INTO THE HILLS… a good obvious route is up to Mae Salong… the bakery (can not remember the name but it is on the main road on right side if heading north out of town and looks like a flashish place) has AMAZING chocolate cake and bottomless green tea…worth the splurge. Loop back around to Mae Chan and back to Tha Ton in a day no worries… feeling adventurous…just take a back road and see where it goes….you will be the only tourist and its amazing up there.
It is possible to get road transport all way to Chiang Rai… and is quicker and much cheaper than boat if that’s what you are looking for… it just takes a few bus changes etc.

Backpacker's Tips : Amtrak Amtrakker, Australia (April 03)  
Bus from Fang to Tha Ton costs 10THB and takes 30 minutes. Couldn't find Thip Travellers GH, so stayed at pleasant Garden Hotel for 200THB in an en-suite bungalow with fan (try not to stay in #1 near the entrance). Tha Ton residents not so friendly, although they have to live with numerous luxury hotels surrounding them so can understand why they're not so approachable. River trip to Chiang Rai leaves at 12.30 and takes 4 hours - cost is 250THB and pleasant trip (although bring wet weather gear as it hailed on us today!) Songthaew to Chan GH in town cost 10THB and friendly hotel costs 70THB for single room and fan. »

The Boat trip to Chiang Rai ? 

This is, for some people, the main reason to come here. I did the trip in 95 and it was already quite touristy. Actually, the boat was so full (thanks to a motorbike) that I decided to break my journey in interesting Mae Salak (a Lahu village with plenty of other tribal villages nearby). The next day, I got a full boat for myself, a strange move considering that I had nothing more to pay and that the tourist boat had room to spare. At this time, robberies were common in the area so my solitary journey was a little bit stressful. The fact that the boat had technical problems did not improve my comfort. 

This is history : today's boat are even fuller than before but it is no longer possible to buy the full fare and break the journey in a village, then board the next boat the next day. You will need to buy a ticket to your village (for example B65 to Mae Salak) and pray that the next day boat will not be full. Not really convenient. Also, the cost has increased to B200 for a faster trip (3 to 4 hours). Boats still leave at 12:30.

Considering the above, the trip upriver from Chiang Rai could be a good option : the cost is the same but it takes around 5 hours and you shall get more room for your legs. Only problems are : it does not usually stop along the way and it may not leave at all if you are the only passenger (less and less likely to happen). Boats leave at 10:30 from the bridge after Dusit Island (B20 from town by songthaew).

Bus Schedules :

To Price Class Duration Time Nb Freq.
Mae Salong turn off 20 songthaew 45mn 7 to 12 a few 30mn
Mae Sai 40 fan 3 around 15 1 na
Chiang Mai 55 fan 4 6:25,8,9:25,11:30,13,14:30 6 na

Notes : To Mae Salong turn off, more if people; onward to Mae Salong (7,8,9,10:30,12 /B25) or Chiang Rai via Mae Chan (B20, regularly) / To Mae Sai, bus coming from Fang

The trip to Mae Salong : SSSSS / R + L&R / B20 + B25 / 50 mn + 45mn / Songthaew
You first have to take a yellow songthaew to the police checkpoint & Mae Salong turn off. From there, songthaew to Mae Salong (13km going up) leave at 7,8,9,10:30,12 & 14 for B25. Like everywhere in Thailand, it should be easy to hitch instead of waiting too long but vehicles were quite rare when we were there (more in the afternoon ?). The road is superb but not always easy to spot from your songthaew : sitting on the roof with the local kids would be the best way to enjoy the scenery but hold firm as the road turns a lot...

See also the trip from Chiang Rai

See also Chiang Dao


HOME - C.A. - ASIA - China - HK & Macau - Thailand - Laos - Cambodia - Myanmar - Malaysia - Sg - Indonesia - Nepal

PASSPLANET © Copyrights since 1999   Benoit SAINT GIRONS
Any commercial use prohibited  /  disclaimer  /