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Travel Guide

Once a major base for the opium-cultivating KMT, Fang has been transformed in recent decades into a laid back rural retreat. While the drug trade has been mostly eradicated, the feeling of isolation in Chiang Mai province's northernmost reaches is still well intact. Few foreign tourists make it here, and though you won't be the first they've seen, locals will still be surprised and impressed by your presence in their pleasant mountain town.

The city of Fang feels a bit more like a large town than a true city — even by Thai standards — though it's clearly the hub of commerce and trade in the area. Businesses are small, but there is a fair smattering of restaurants and bars, and even a big, shiny Tesco Lotus, that mecca of Western convenience. The people are friendly and the pace is relaxed, making it a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside, which is both beautiful and diverse.

Its proximity to Burma and large fertile mountain ranges — and the ethnic minority villages you'll find in such topography — make for a rich cultural mix. Indeed, most who find themselves here will likely cite this aspect as one of the most interesting parts of travelling in the area, along with the beauty of the Fang countryside.

Trekking in the area can be great, and those looking for a middle-of-nowhere sort of experience would likely find what they're looking for here — though the relatively small number of tourists means that trekking trips don't come cheap. Hilltribe homestays are a popular and fascinating option, and can be easily organised through the outstanding Phumanee Home Hotel.

While there is plenty to see and do in and around the city, Fang is definitely a "locals" type of town, and not very well set up for tourists, especially foreigners. Those who are new to Thailand may struggle to get a truly gratifying experience out of it, though if you know the program — and a little bit of Thai — the town is by no means complicated.

Accommodation is not Fang's strong suit, but the aforementioned Phumanee is truly one of the best all-around spots we've found in the North, and most visitors need not look any further. Travelling on your own steam is recommended, as the best of Fang is found outside of town, and renting vehicles in town is near impossible.

Fang is centred on the junction between highway 107 and 1089, the latter being basically just a continuation of the former under a new alias. Everything that can be considered Fang proper is either directly on or branching off this main thoroughfare. Just southwest of the centre of town, highway 107 splits off to the north, creating a bypass around town, which joins back up with 1089 a few kilometres northeast of town.

A few other roads could be considered important, however it seems that they are not important enough to warrant names... Google Maps draws a blank, street signs are of course written exclusively in Thai, and even those don't seem to be consistent. So as a result, for description's sake, we here have to take things in to our own hands — no offence intended toward Fang's able city planners.

Travelling north along 107 (which DOES have a name: Chotana Road), the highway is divided by a median as you enter town. Just after this median ends is a four-way intersection with a traffic light. We will refer to this crossroad as Traffic Light Street. The northwestern section of Traffic Light Street plays host to some excellent eateries, cafes and bars, some of which have free WiFi.

Aside from this, the highway has most of what you need. Fang's hospital can be found along 107 just south of the centre, as can numerous banks and ATMs.

The town's biggest market and morning market are also adjacent to the road, and internet shops can be found on many of the side streets, including one quite close to Wiang Kaew Hotel.

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Text and/or map last updated on 19th August, 2012.

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