Photo: Get out on the water.

Kok River boat cruise

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Flowing out of the hills of Burma’s Shan State at Tha Ton before winding its way across Chiang Rai Province to empty into the Mekong just south of Chiang Saen, a boat trip down a scenic stretch of the Kok River between Tha Ton and Chiang Rai has long been a highlight for travellers to this part of Thailand.





You have three principal options: the daily public boat, a private charter or a package from a Chiang Rai or even Chiang Mai tour agent. The latter usually includes the boat trip, visit to the Ruam Mit elephant camp and perhaps a trek with one or two-night stays in hill-tribe villages. You can do the trip in either direction, but downstream from Tha Ton to Chiang Rai is the usual way, as travelling upstream against the often fast-flowing current can be slow and hard work.

The Kok River winding towards Burma. Photo taken in or around Kok River boat cruise, Tha Ton, Thailand by Mark Ord.

The Kok River winding towards Burma. Photo: Mark Ord

From the Tha Ton boat pier, the daily scheduled departure is at 12:30. Services may occasionally be compromised in the dry season when water levels get too low, or in rainy season when heavy rains may make the trip dangerous. Police and tourist police kiosks are located right next to the pier and they don’t want any accidents!

You can buy a ticket to any of the downriver destinations but then you are going to have to work out how you do the onward journey. Most of the villages (aside from Ruam Mit) do not have accommodation, and public road transport is limited so you may end up hiring a boat again for the next stretch. Full fare details are in our Tha Ton transport section.

Dusk on the river. Photo taken in or around Kok River boat cruise, Tha Ton, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Dusk on the river. Photo: Mark Ord

Boats are reasonably comfortable and the long-tails all come with a roof and life-jackets. There are some minor rapids—you may get splashed—and the sun reflects off the water in the low-lying boats so you may well get sunburnt even if you do manage ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Kok River boat cruise
Tha Ton Public Boat Office, Rim Nam Kok, Moo 3, Tha Ton. T: (053) 053 727
Mo–Su: 08:00-16:30
Admission: Public boat 400 baht per person. Around 2,400 baht for a whole boat

Location map for Kok River boat cruise

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Tha Ton.
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 Read up on how to get to Tha Ton, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
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