Thoed Thai (aka Hin Taek)

Thoed Thai (aka Hin Taek)

Fascinating and off the beaten track

More on Mae Salong

Thoed Thai (previously known as Hin Taek) is another of northern Thailand’s remote spots with a former bad boy reputation and a new fluffy appellation.

Travelfish says:
The man himself. Photo by: Mark Ord.
The man himself. Photo: Mark Ord

According to local history, the town was originally founded by Akha migrants from Shan State, who settled in the valley in 1903, making it the first recognised Akha settlement in Thailand. These days, it’s mainly inhabited by a mixture of Shan and Yunnanese—survivors and descendants of the KMT—while the surrounding hills are home to Akha, Lisu and Lahu ethnic groups. The community contains Protestant and Catholic churches, Chinese temples, Thai/Shan wats and a mosque. Indeed according to local lore, the Thai government once brought up a group of community leaders from the country’s troubled deep south to show them how such a mix of people could live together so harmoniously.

Khun Sa himself was forced back over the Burmese border after Thai army assaults in 1982, but his shadow still looms large over Hin Taek. Many older residents remember this, by all accounts, gregarious character who was often seen strolling around the market chatting with locals and who financed and constructed schools, housing, clinics and roads for the townsfolk.

The man himself ... and his horse. Photo by: Mark Ord.
The man himself ... and his horse. Photo: Mark Ord

Drug lord or freedom fighter—or most likely both—he may have been the CIA and DEA’s most wanted but to locals he was Uncle Sa. Today Hin Taek or Thoed Thai is best known tourism-wise for its Khun Sa Museum established in his old headquarters on the edge of town. This small compound, up a short side track behind the town market, recently suffered flood damage as well as having been bombed by the Thai air force in the early 1980s. These days the main problem is simple neglect as roofs deteriorate, damp encourages mould and moss on the walls, and termites and insects ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 800 words.)

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Reviewed by

Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.

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Our top 6 other sights and activities in and around Mae Salong

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Shining light on some obscure history

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