Mae Kok River Cruise

Well worth doing

Photo of , , Tha Ton

What we say: 4 stars



What truly first put Tha Ton on the map was its proximity to the Mae Kok River. That same river route is also what has put it on the Thailand Tourism Map, and for good reason.

River cruises daily wind through the mountains and valleys of Chiang Rai province, and represent the most pleasant — if not most inexpensive — route between Tha Ton and Chiang Rai.

Every day at 12:30 boats depart Tha Ton headed for Chiang Rai, with departures in the opposite direction leaving at 10:30. Riding the full distance will set you back 350 baht and takes three to four hours.

Though some may choose to simply go from pier to pier, many pleasant and interesting stops can be made between the two. Its location about an hour out of Chiang Rai makes Ruammit Elephant Camp a popular destination, with the Karen tribal village seeing its fair share of tourists. Aside from the elephants, there are hot springs, camp grounds and a variety of hilltribe villages along the way. Tha Ton is the easiest place to arrange tours, which can be easily tailored to include what you're interested in seeing.

For those who would like to space out the trip and are not terribly keen on camping, a truly fantastic guesthouse is located about two-thirds of the way to Chiang Rai called My Dream. The guesthouse is affordable, comfortable, and about as relaxing as they come, and may just become one of your favourites if you have time to devote to just chilling by the river. Tell any boat operator the name and they'll know just where to take you.

If you have the time for it, the Mae Kok River cruise is a lovely alternative to a day of monotonous highway transit, and provides easy access to otherwise totally remote destinations.


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