Getting Out of Dodge

 |  March 31, 2011

Within shouting distance of town, this wonderful little spot is a great place to cool off during the hot season (though as we type this it is 16 biting degrees!). Overhanging cliffs, the slightly dodgy waters of Doi Suthep trickling downstream – lovely to look at, but best to avoid frolicking in – slabs of cool rocks to spread a picnic over, large trees offering shade, and a variety of nature trails to wander and explore.

Drive past Kruba Srivichai statue at the foot of Doi Suthep, continue past Wang Bua Ban waterfalls and you will see a small sign for Pha Ngerb on the left hand side of the road, park (there will likely be other motorbikes) and walk 40 metres down the trail.

It’s not easy being a veggie-lover in a land of rice and meat. For those looking for the crunch of fresh farmers’ market vegetables and willing to make a short trip out of town, we suggest the vegetable beds near Saraphee Railway Station. Local villagers have established vegetable patches along the railroad tracks, and on Saturdays and Sundays rows of lean-tos are piled with fresh celery, cabbage, cauliflower, and other produce. If you don’t make it in time to buy from the local venders, vegetables are also sold at the Saraphee District Office. Go soon, as it is uncertain how long this local experience, strongly linked to the train station, will last.

Take Lamphun Road ten kilometres from the city, you will see a sign for Saraphee railway station, turn left into the station.

There are few better feelings than easing into a tub of steaming hot spring water. Pong Kwao Hot Springs was discovered 118 years ago by villagers, and has been spewing 70-degree water ever since, much to the delight of locals and tourists alike. Individual, private bathing pools are available, as well as huge group pools for the social bather. The mineral bathes cost 30 baht for Thai children, 60 baht for Thai adults, and 150 baht for foreigners. The area around the hot spring also offers bicycling, Thai massage (maybe a good combo), trekking, and tent rentals. Call 086 012 3771 or 081 005 9911 for more information.

Pong Kwao Hot Spring is located in Ban Pong Kwoa, Sameong about 70 kilometres away from the city. Take highway 107 and turn left onto 1069 road, Maerim – Sameong road. You will see PTT petrol station on the right hand side. This is the entrance of Nong Hoi Royal Project. Go straight to Mon Jam and then turn left at Baan Maepa and Baan Palan. You have to be careful because the road is steep.

Hikers, photographers, and vista-gazers will love this cliff-lined hill and its excellent viewpoints. The highest point
(at 700-1250 metres about see level) reveals an expanse of orange and orchid farms stretched out below. Feeling adventurous? There are no guesthouses or hotels at Mon Ngoaw, but 2-person tents can be rented for 150 baht/night (including a sleeping bag). Camping at Mon Ngoaw could be combined with white-water rafting on the nearby Mae Tang river (for information, call 053 228 115).

Mon Ngoaw is about 67 kilometres from Chiang Mai city in Mae Tang, and two kilometres away from the Mon Ngoaw Royal Project Development Office, the nearest point with car access.

Near Mae Kuang Udomthara Dam in the Doisaket district, there lies a little village called Baan Pasakngam. A visitor center directs tourists to a small waterfall falling into fish-filled crystal-clear water. Farther out is the village’s hallmark, the dusty red-earth plain ‘Kad Muang Phee,’ named for the vast feeling of solitude it inspires in visitors. Local people believe that the plain was swept clear by ghosts.

If you contact the villagers beforehand, you can take a boat across the Mae Kuang Dam to the village. If not, the village can be reached by driving 70/KM from the city along Chiang Mai – Proa Road and turning right before Bua Tong waterfall.