Thai version

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Waterfalls for Splashing Cool Fun

Driving in north Thailand is a most enjoyable activity. Many visitors in Chiangrai see Mae Salong, Mae Sai, The Golden Triangle, Chiang Saen and Chiang Khong. However, there is more to the Chiangrai province than those areas.

There are beautiful, tranquil places that are seldom visited. The two described herein are less than an one hour ride from Chiangrai city. Suggested one day trips to parks with waterfalls, namely, the areas of Namtok (meaning, waterfall) are Huay Mae Sai and Namtok Khun Korn (simplified pronunciation, Khoon Gorn)

Namtok Huay Mae Sai has a delightful combination of hill tribes and elephants in a beautiful, friendly non commercial setting, while, Namtok Khun Korn astounds you with magnificent nature, pure and simple. Although both areas do have a waterfall, Namtok Khun Korn is by far the most spectacular. At a height of 70+ meters, it is the largest waterfall in the Province.

Of these two suggested sights, the nearer to Chiangrai city is Namtok Huay Mae Sai. To get there, take the superhighway from Chiangrai north toward Mae Sai. Then cross the bridge over the Mae Kok River. Turn left at the first road located only a few hundred meters after the bridge. Follow this paved country road winding through villages for 22 kilometers. There will be a sharp curve to the right. Look for a sign with an arrow pointing left under the sign. Turn left here onto a dirt road and a beautiful temple with a big drum will be in the landmark in front of you. Turn right in front of the temple and follow along this easy to travel dirt road. Most of this road follows a stream through Yao and Akha villages, beautiful valleys and three covered hills.

Stop at the noodle shop just before the waterfall which is particularly interesting. It's best to leave your car here and walk through the trees a few hundred meters to the fall.

You can rest at the shop under cool shade trees while enjoying a beverage. Then arrange for a one hour elephant ride to an Akha village and return. It's time for a change into shorts or swim suit in the toilet at the noodle shop then have a pleasant swim under the waterfall. After lunch stretch out under a thatched roof sala while reading a book or play with the Akha and Lahu children. After the heat of the day has passed, it's time to drive back to Chiangrai in only 30 minutes or so.

If nature is more to your liking then Namtok Khun Korn is the place to visit. To get there get on the superhighway in Chiangrai and drive south toward Chiangmai until reaching Highway 1211. There is a big sign stating "Namtok Khun Korn" where you turn right on 1211. Follow this road 15 kilometers to Highway 1208. Just after turning right onto Highway 1208 there is another sign stating "Namtok Khun Korn 11 Kilometers." The entrance to the park is at the end of this road so you can't miss it.

Park the car at the visitors center. This easy 1200 meter walk trail will invigorate all yours senses. There are sounds of the breeze through the high trees, the soothing rush of the stream next to the trial combined with many birds singing and declaring your arrival. The natural forest fragrances and clean fresh air are apparent. Many different colored butterflies flutter all around you and swarm the exotic plants. The colorful blossoms of wild flowers is an additional visual treat. And then, upon reaching the waterfall, WOW, a wide grin spreads across your face. Spend the rest of the day here enjoying nature.

Excellent barbecued chicken and Thai food are offered at vendors stalls. The toilet and changing rooms are near the visitors center. Swimming at the waterfall is allowed.

Namtok Huay Mae Sai and Namtok Khun Korn are two options for visitors to get to know the culture and natural beauty of north Thailand. You'll be glad you rented a jeep to explore the country side.

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