Mae Wang

Mae Wang

River trips and hill tribes

Mae Wang is a district of Chiang Mai province, as well as a river, valley and national park, but there isn’t actually a town or village of that name. The most important town (well, large village) and commercial centre for the Mae Wang valley is Ban Kat, often mistakenly identified as Mae Wang village.

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Ban Kat itself is a good spot to stop at if you’re on your way up the Mae Wang Valley and it’s even worth the minor detour if you’re travelling on Route 108 between Chiang Mai and Chom Thong/Inthanon. The small market is lively and interesting and you may glimpse some Karen or Hmong women from nearby villages in their traditional clothes. There’s a good coffee shop and plenty of simple restaurants.

Towering cliffs at Mae Wang National Park. : Mark Ord.
Towering cliffs at Mae Wang National Park. Photo: Mark Ord

The district of Mae Wang lies south of the provincial capital, with Sanpatong to the east, Doi Lo and Chom Thong to the south and Hang Dong to the north. It includes the picturesque Mae Wang Valley – a big favourite of both rafting backpackers and picnicking Thais -- and the spectacular scenery of the eponymously named national park in the foothills of Doi Inthanon.

Bamboo rafting, tubing and kayaking are all popular on the Wang River while the surrounding hills, home to traditional Hmong and Karen villages, hold excellent trekking possibilities. Ban Kat, at the foot of the valley, is just 30 kilometres from Chiang Mai so the valley, national park and unusual Ganesh Museum make for a convenient day trip from the big city. However there are a couple of fine spots to stay overnight if you want to experience the tranquillity of this scenic area once the daytrippers have all gone home. Bear in mind that on fine weekends and Thai holidays Mae Wang can ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 500 words.)

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