The Nam Wa River is supposed to be one of the best white water rafting venues in the world according to the head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Phrae Province office. The Nam Wa River runs through the northeastern part of Nan, from the top of the Phee Pan Nam mountain, close to the border of Laos.
The river’s rafting is divided into five levels of difficulty on three different sections of the river. The most difficult ride is full of rocks, islets, fast rapids and lots of whirlpools and has already challenged thousands of foreigners and Thais who gag for the adrenalin of rafting. This monster of a rafting experience lasts two days and one night and stretches over 80 kilometres.
The starting point is at Baan Sob Mang, a traditional rural village, where you’ll be equipped with gloves, life vests, helmets and given a brief introduction before the ride begins. Each boat has room for 7-8 rafters, including one staff member in the back to control the boat and two in the front to help you navigate. The ride starts off slowly. As you descend, you will encounter various levels of rapids, divided into the five levels of difficulty. Levels 1-3 contain small waves rocking the boat from side to side. 4-5 are pretty damn hectic.
Grown men have wept – though of course not this macho Citylife writer – at the most difficult section of the river which lies right in the middle of the adventure. It takes about half an hour before you run into the first rapids graded level 4-5, where you’ll suddenly find yourself fighting with nature. The most exciting rapids are the Kang Pee Pa and the Kang Kee Nok sections, where there is some chance you might not all stay in the dinghy.
Going over many more rapids you will cover 60 kilometres of river the first day, and then do the remaining 20 kilometres on the second day.
Throughout the journey you’ll get the chance to take in all the beauty of the local nature. You’ll see the splendour of tropical rain forests, where many species of birds, butterflies, insects buzz in and out of the trees. Halfway through each day, you’ll stop for lunch break at noon, but this will be on the boat, since you’ll be drifting somewhere in the middle of the jungle.
At night everyone camps down in a small site at the side of the jungle and settle in for the night. You’ll get a great bit of Thai dinner and drink from bamboo cups. After finishing your meal, everyone sits around in a circle next to a bonfire and shares experiences of the day. If you feel the need to shower before you go to bed, the only ‘cold’ water available is a small stream coming down from the mountain, which actually feels fantastic.
The following morning, everybody has to get up early, have breakfast and then put on their life vests and helmets. One of the rapids you’ll soon have to contend with is called Kang Soii, and is one of the most challenging of its kind. Everybody onboard will have to work strenuously together as a team to combat this rapid. If your team doesn’t do everything right, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll hit a rock and capsize. Scary!
What to bring: sunscreen, a towel, clothes, bug repellent, a sweater (it’s cold during winter). All of your belongings will be safe in a waterproof bag. All equipment, camping gear, food and drinks are provided.
How to prepare yourself: The trip takes two days and one night. You will be exposed to sunshine and cold water which can easily make you sick. Please keep this in mind and be adequately prepared.
How to contact the travel agencies offering this trip: Nan Muan Tour 054 773 598, Nan Adventure 089 777 1188, Nan Pang Chang 054 781 316, Jang & Jay Tour 054 769 026, Nan Touring 054 751 122, Nam Wa Tour 086 183 7337 and River Raft 054 710 940
Cost: 3000 baht.
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Sasidara Resort 054 774 483 or www.sasidararesort.com
1,000 baht per night for a superior room including breakfast
(Three kilometres from the town centre)
It’s better to drive yourself, but if you wish to take a bus, go to the Arcade bus station on the Superhighway Road. Get a ticket for the bus to Nan. One-way VIP bus tickets cost 412 baht. The bus leaves at 3.15, 7.15, 8.00, 9.00, 10.00, 11.00 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Nok Air also flies to Nan.