Umphang

Umphang

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.)

Log in to Travelfish

Please sign in to read the rest of this page. The full text is around 1,200 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
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 Nan
Nan

Well worth the side trip

Learn more about Kamphaeng Phet
Kamphaeng Phet

An ancient fortress

Learn more about Sukhothai
Sukhothai

An ancient Thai capital

Learn more about Soppong
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
Phrao

Scenic stopover

Learn more about Lampang
Lampang

Elephants and horse carts

Learn more about Pua
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
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 Fang
Fang

Odd name, great scenery

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
Phayao

Take a load off by the river

Learn more about Phrae
Phrae

Steeped in history

Learn more about Phitsanulok
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
Tak

A low-key river town

Learn more about Hot
Hot

Cool off in Hot