Gateway to an impressive waterfall

Isolated Umphang district stretches south from the rest of Tak province like a giant thumb resting on the border with Burma. Adventurers who are brave enough to take on the “Death Highway” will discover breathtaking mountain scenery, sedate villages and some of Thailand’s most impressive waterfalls, all in an area that foreign travellers tend to overlook.

More on Umphang

Covering 4,325 square kilometres of mountainous terrain, Umphang is the largest and least accessible of Thailand’s 885 districts -- it’s even larger than two-dozen of the 77 Thai provinces. As the crow flies, it lies due west of the Central Thai plains but can only be accessed from the north via a single road: Highway 1090. A dense wall of mountains cuts Umphang off from the rest of Thailand.

Did someone say waterfall? : David Luekens.
Did someone say waterfall? Photo: David Luekens

Piercing deep into Thailand’s “wild west,” 1090 was nicknamed the Death Highway even before it opened in the 1980s. Drug smugglers, Thai Communist insurgents and Hmong rebels all vied for influence as Thai government forces and the Lisu mercenaries who they employed tried to tame the region. Armed soldiers weren’t enough to keep many construction workers from being attacked and killed. A slew of fatal car accidents ensured that the road’s nickname stuck long after the area was pacified. Even today, low-paid Thai rangers carry machine guns into the area’s wildlife sanctuaries to fight illegal loggers ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,200 words.)

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