Thailand ends just behind Wat Tha Ton so you can’t go very far in that direction, but if you can get hold of a bicycle or motorbike you can do a bit of exploring to the east and west, or follow one of the scenic riverbank tracks south out of town through farm land and orchards.
Heading east along Route 1089 you’re rapidly in Chiang Rai province and 30 kilometres along will see you at Ban Lorcha, an interesting Akha village with an excellent community tourism scheme. It’s a couple of clicks on the right before the junction with Route 1234 so if you reach the Mae Salong turn off, you’ve gone too far.
The district capital of Mae Ai lies seven kilometres west on the highway. It's not a particularly exciting destination in its own right but you can do an interesting detour by way of rural Route 1314, which heads off the main highway just outside Tha Ton and snakes its way through the hills along the Burmese border. After eight kilometres you’ll reach a checkpoint, whereupon a left turn takes you directly into Mae Ai or straight n continues along the border and makes a wider loop before re-joining the main highway 4 clicks southwest of town. The bust market town does of course have a couple of coffee shops and noodle stands around the market so have a break before heading back east.
Including the return ride to Tha Ton the shorter loop is around 20 k’s and suitable for a bicycle whilst the longer route has some steep climbs and totals around 36 kilometres. Both have some great views and hill-tribe villages.
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