Odd name, great scenery

Fang is an unusual name for what is a pretty regular, though larger than average, provincial Chiang Mai town. It’s a busy commercial and administrative centre for the district of the same name, which covers a large chunk of paddy-filled valley and forest-clad hills in the far north of the province along the Burmese border.

More on Fang

Browse hotels in Fang on Agoda

Provided by Travelfish partner Agoda.

To the east lies Mae Ai, Tha Ton and Chiang Rai; to the south Chiang Dao and Phrao and to the north and west the high mountains of Doi Ang Khan and Doi Pha Hom Pok separate the Fang river valley from Burma’s Shan State. The scenery is awesome in the true sense of the word, while the town is fun and friendly, but at best just a trickle of foreign visitors stop by on their way up to Tha Ton.

Wat Jong Pen. : Mark Ord.
Wat Jong Pen. Photo: Mark Ord

The town dates to the mid seventh century, meaning it predates the Siamese arrival in what is now Thailand and was founded by a Lawa King, Changkarat. Lying in its wide fertile valley, Fang was a profitable little region. It was occupied by King Mengrai on his way south to conquer Haripunchai, today’s Lamphun, before he found Chiang Mai as his new capital.

There were once rumours, or perhaps wishful thinking on the part of its residents, of Fang becoming a province in its own right, but nothing seems to have come of that, so today it remains a large regional centre but with great tourist potential and well worth a stop. The town’s inhabitants are an eclectic mix of Shan, Northern Thai, Yunnanese Muslims and ex-Kuomintang, with surrounding hills home to Palaung, Akha, Lahu, Karen and Hmong ethnic minorities. In town you’ll see churches, mosques and Chinese temples as well as Buddhist wats.

Doi Pha Hom Pok - at a distance. : Mark Ord.
Doi Pha Hom Pok - at a distance. Photo: Mark Ord

And that unusual name? We heard it derives from a fang tree (Caesalpinia sappan), whose seed apparently resembles in shape the Fang Valley. (There ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 500 words.)

Log in to Travelfish

Please sign in to read the rest of this page. The full text is around 500 words.

Log in now
Become a Travelfish member

Choose from a free two-day pass right through to a lifetime membership.

Find out more

36 other destinations in Northern Thailand

Learn more about Chiang Dao
Chiang Dao

Caves and mountains

Learn more about Phu Lang Ka
Phu Lang Ka

Clouds amid the karsts

Learn more about Pai

Busy trekking centre

Learn more about Phu Chee Fah
Phu Chee Fah

Quite a view

Learn more about Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai

Thailand’s northern capital

Learn more about Tha Ton
Tha Ton

Famous for the Kok River trip

Learn more about Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai

Plenty to see and do

Learn more about Mae Salong
Mae Salong

Least Thai town in Thailand

Learn more about Umphang

Gateway to an impressive waterfall

Learn more about Nan

Well worth the side trip

Learn more about Kamphaeng Phet
Kamphaeng Phet

An ancient fortress

Learn more about Sukhothai

An ancient Thai capital

Learn more about Soppong

Spectacular mountain scenery

Learn more about Si Satchanalai
Si Satchanalai

Ancient satellite of Sukhothai

Learn more about Bo Kluea
Bo Kluea

Ancient salt mines and mountain views

Learn more about Wiang Haeng
Wiang Haeng

Remote border region

Learn more about Mae Sariang
Mae Sariang

Bucolic mountain outpost

Learn more about Mae Sot
Mae Sot

Bustling on the Burma border

Learn more about Phrao

Scenic stopover

Learn more about Lampang

Elephants and horse carts

Learn more about Pua

Launching point for Doi Phuka

Learn more about Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon

Thailand’s highest peak

Learn more about Mae Wang
Mae Wang

River trips and hill tribes

Learn more about Lamphun

The history runs deep

Learn more about Doi Khun Tan National Park
Doi Khun Tan National Park

Undisturbed forest

Learn more about Mae Hong Son
Mae Hong Son

Tranquil temple town

Learn more about Chiang Saen
Chiang Saen

A sleepy historic centre

Learn more about Chiang Khong
Chiang Khong

A popular border town

Learn more about Phayao

Take a load off by the river

Learn more about Phrae

Steeped in history

Learn more about Phitsanulok

P’lok will do just fine

Learn more about Sob Ruak
Sob Ruak

The Golden Triange

Learn more about Khun Yuam
Khun Yuam

Sunflowers and a waterfall

Learn more about Mae Sai
Mae Sai

Infamous border town

Learn more about Tak

A low-key river town

Learn more about Hot

Cool off in Hot