On traveling to Tak Province, expect to discover a place with long history, where natural wonders are magnificently enhanced by ethnic diversity.
Mostly forested and mountainous, Tak is a northern province peacefully situated on the Maenam Ping basin. The province covers an area of 16,406 square kilometers and is 426 kilometers north of Bangkok. As Tak shares natural border with Myanmar, it is highly regarded as a western gateway to Myanmar, and a northern doorway to Thailand's major cities such as Lampang and Chiang Mai.
A province with a long history, Tak was earlier called Mueang Rahang. Historians believe it was built prior to the Sukhothai era and was treated as the western frontier of the Kingdom. Tak was also associated with Thailand's former Great Kings, from King Ramkamhaeng the Great, King Naresuan the Great, King Narai the Great to King Taksin the Great. These four Kings usually called their troop assemblies in Tak. That is why the seal of the province depicts King Naresuan the Great on the royal elephant, pouring sacred water on the ground. This is a symbolic representation of the declaration of the independence of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya during the war with Burma in 1584. Tak was considered the first district to be liberated from the power of the Burmese Kingdom.
Today, Tak is no longer a strategic military frontier between two great nations. It is however a trading gateway to Myanmar at Amphoe Mae Sot, where lots of economic activities take place daily along the border. In addition, the province has the Asian Highway that runs from Thailand's western border towards the northeastern region at Chong Mek (Mae Sot Sukhothai Phitsanulok Ubon Ratchathani - Laos).
Apart from Tak's military and economic importance the province is also an environmental and cultural center with magnificent forests, spectacular waterfalls and caves and fascinating hill tribes such as Karen, Lisu, Musoe (Lahu), Akha, Yao and Hmong.
How To Get There
Travelling to Tak
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 (Phahonyothin) and Highway No. 32 to Nakhon Sawan via Ayutthaya, Ang Thong, Sing Buri and Chai Nat Provinces, then take Highway No. 1 again and proceed to Tak via Kamphaeng Phet Province. The total distance is 426 kilometers.
From Bangkok: Air-conditioned buses depart from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Mochit 2 Bus Terminal)to Tak between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day. The journey takes 6 hours. Call 0 2936 2852-66 or visit www.transport.co.th for updated schedules. Daily bus services to Tak are also available. They are operated by private bus companies such as Thanchit Tour (Tel: 0 2551 1307), Choet Chai Tour (Tel: 0 2551 1054).
By Rail From Bangkok: There are no trains going directly to Tak. The nearest train transfer station is Phitsanulok. From there, tourists can take a local bus to Tak. Contact Bangkok Railway Station Tel. 1690, 0223 7010, 0 2223 7020 or visit www.railway.co.th for more information.
From Bangkok: Thai Airways flies from Bangkok to Mae Sot, a district which is 86 kilometers from the City of Tak. For more updated information, call 0 2628 2000 (24-hour reservation center) or visit www.thaiairways.com.
From Bangkok via Pitsanulok Province: and then transfer to the Pitsanulok-Tak shuttle. The flights are scheduled to run every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Call 02 628-2000 (24-hour reservation center) or visit www.thaiairways.com for more information.
From Bangkok to Umphang, Take air-conditioned buses, as well as flights from Bangkok to Mae Sot, and then, take the local bus to Umphang. There is now a charter flight operated by Siam GA Co., Ltd. The fare is approximately 9,000 bahts to fly directly to Umphang either on Monday, Wendesday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. For more information, call 02 5043320 ext. 197.
Travel from Tak to other Cities
Tourists who want to travel from Tak to Bangkok or any other city may choose to go by air or land. Car rental service in the City of Tak is also available.
The Thai Airways offers a wide range of trips from Tak and Mae Sot to other provinces, including Chiang Mai and Phitsanulok. For more information, call 0 2628 2000 (24-hour reservation center)
Many governmental and private bus companies have regular and air-conditioned bus services to nearby provinces. For more information, call Transportation Authority of Tak, tel. 0 5551 1057.
Loi Krathong Sai
Thailand's lovely annual Festival of Lights on the full moon night in November, is celebrated in a unique manner in Tak. Local people thread together their krathongs which are launched simultaneously and appear as lighted necklaces on the Ping River.
Taksin Maharachanuson Fair Celebrated annually from December 28-January 3 at the Taksin Shrine and provincial sports field, the fair features religious ceremonial and processions, displays and nightly folk entertainment.
The area of Wat Phra Boromthat in Amphoe Ban Tak is the former site of Ancient Tak City. Lying along the bank of Maenam Ping, approximately 25 kilometers north of the City, the site contains several ruins including the legendary hill-top pagoda in Phum Khao Binth style (of Sukhothai era).
The pagoda was built by King Ramkhamhaeng the Great to mark his victory in the hand to hand combat on the elephants back against King Khun Sam Chon, the ruler of Muang Chot (currently Amphoe Mae Sot). The pagoda shares Myanmar's famous Chawedagong's features and houses holy Buddha relics. Locally known as the royal pagoda or Chedi Yutta Hatthi, it is located next to Wat Phra Boromthat.
The temple (Wat Phra Boromthat) itself is extraordinary with wooden door panels and roof decorations that are magnificently crafted. In addition, the story of the Lord Buddha is depicted on the temples wooden window panels which are covered in real gold.
Wat Don Kaeo
This temple houses Thailand's biggest and most beautiful marble Burmese-style Buddha image. The width of the image base is 50 inches while the height is 63 inches. The temple is situated on the Mae Sot-Mae Ramat-Tha Song Yang route at Km. 33. To get there from the main road, take a left turn and proceed for another 2 kilometers.
Doi Muser Crops Research Station
The research station is stationed on Thanon Thongchai Mountain, which is 900 meters above the sea level. With an average temperature of 4 degrees celsius during the cool season and 25 degrees celsius in the summer, the Research Station is considered a perfect place for cold climate crops such as tea, coffee, flowers and fruits. In addition, during the cool season, visitors will be able to see Dok Bua Tong (wild sunflowers) like those found on mountains in Mae Hong Son Province.
Doi Musur Hilltribe Development & Welfare Center
The Center is located on the Tak-Mae Sot Highway No. 105 at km. 29 marker. It is the area where Lahu, Lisu and Hmong hilltribes are located. Visitors find this place to be a living library as they can actually observe the lifestyles of hilltribe people. Staying overnight, or over a week with a hilltribe family is highly recommended visitors will be provided with the chance to learn about their culture. For more information, please call the Center at 0 5221 3614.
This shop is located along the Tak-Mae Sot Highway No. 105 approximately at the km. 29 marker. A wide range of local fruits and vegetables, silverware and clothes are on sale from early morning until late afternoon.
This westernmost district is located along Maenam Moei on the Thai border, approximately 86 kilometers from the city of Tak. Facing Myanmar on the opposite bank, Mae Sot has so much to offer tourists. It is a shopping paradise for gemstones lovers as it is has now become a major trading spot for jade and gems and for general shopaholics who can shop at the municipal market (behind Siam Hotel) for cheap Burmese clothing, cigarettes, decorative items, original Burmese blankets and slippers, etc. Mae Sot is easily reached by traveling on Highway No. 105 from Tak city.
Believe it or not, a small hill on Tak-Mae Sod Highway No. 105 at km. 68 marker attracts flocks of visitors. They have traveled to this spot to investigate something. Park your car at the foot of this hill, turn off the engine, a mysterious force will push your car up the hill.
Namtok Pha Charoen
A spectacular 97-tiered waterfall is located between kilometers 36 and 37 on Highway 1090. To enter the site, turn left at approximately km. 36-37 markers to a dirt road off of the highway and proceed for another 700 meters to reach the site.
Talat Rim Moei
Situated on the bank of Maenam Moei, Talad Rim Moei is a place where local products and precious stones such as jade and garnet from Myanmar are available. Tourists interested in visiting Myawadi in Myanmar (just across Maenam Moei) can take boats from this market.
Thai-Myanmar Friedship Bridge
This bridge which connects the Asian Highway between Thailand and Myanmar, is located at Tambon Tha Sai Luad, opposite a town called Myawadi in Myanmar. The Asian Highway also runs to other regions in South Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The bridge opens daily from 8.30 a.m. until 4.30 p.m. Border passes for a fee of 20 baht for Thais and 10 baht for people from Myanmar can be obtained from either Mae Moei City or Mae Sot Municipal.
Wat Chumphon Khiri
Situated in Mae Sot Municipality, the temple was built approximately 200 years ago. Several restorations have been made, including the construction of the new chedi in the same architectural style as that of the Chawedagong in Myanmar. Attractions within the temple include a Buddha image in the Maravichai style and a 200 year old drum.
Wat Mani Phraison
Located in the Mae Sot market, Wat Manee Pharison features a unique Samphuttae Chedi. On top of the big chedi, there are 233 small chedis that house 512,028 small Buddha images. In addition, on the site is a chapel that is over 200 years old.
Wat Phra That Doi Din Kiu
Overlooking Maenam Moei and Myanmar is Wat Phra That Doi Din Kiu, a hill-top forest temple, just 11 kilometers northwest of Mae Sot. The chedi is special as it is constructed in the same style as Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Myanmar. In addition, the chedi was built on a rock which seems to have been balanced on the edge of a cliff.
Wat Thai Wattanaram
This temple is located at Mu 1, Tambon Ta Sai Luat, on the way to the Rim Moei border market, just 500 meters from the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge. The temple was originally known as Wat Thai Yai as the construction of the temple was greatly influenced by Burmese culture and Mahayana Buddhism. Enshrined within the temple are a reclining Buddha image and a marble Buddha image. In addition, on the second floor of the main Viharn, a collection of Burmese musical instruments, including tuned drums and gongs are on display.
City Pillar Shrine of the Four Great Kings
This shrine is situated at Ban Pak Rong, by the Kittikachorn Bridge, south of the city. The Shrine was established to honor Thailand's four former Great Kings who were associated with Tak. These Kings called for several strategic troop assemblies in the province to fight against invading forces. In this light, the Shrine represents utmost respect for the Kings dedication to the country.
Lan Sang National Park
This national park is located at Ban Lan Sang, Tambon Mae Tor, Amphoe Muang Tak, approximately 17 kilometers from the city. To get there, take Tak-Mae Sot Highway No. 105 to the west, at Km. marker 12-13 turn left into a road which leads to the National Park and proceed for 3 kilometers.
Covering an area of 104 square kilometers, Lan Sang National Park has scenic trails leading to a number of waterfalls and high granite peaks including Lan Sang, Pha Lad, lan Liang Ma, Pha Nguen, Pha Yoi and Pha Thae. The highest peak is Khao Umyorm, which is 1,065 meters above sea level. The crystal clear water of Namtok Lan Sang flows all year round and rare wildlife are frequently sited in the forest. Accommodations are available, for more details contact Lan Sang National Park at 05 5519278 or email: email@example.com
Mani Banphot Swamp
This big swamp is located in the heart of the city on Phahonyothin Road, next to Wat Mani Banphot. Covering an area of 60 rai, the swamp, which has a pavilion situated in the center, provides both visitors and local residents with a beautiful view. Lately, the place has become an increasingly interesting site for relaxation.
Museum of Indigenous Arts and Culture
Situated inside the compound of the Educational Welfare School (Suksa Songkraw Tak School), just 12 kilometers from the city is the Museum of Indigenous Arts and Culture. This museum features a colorful collection of art representing the exquisite culture of six hill tribes including Karen, Lisu, Musoe (Lahu), Akha, Yao and Hmong. Silver ornaments crafted and produced by hill tribe residents are also displayed. To get reach the museum; take Highway No. 105 (Tak-Mae Sot).
Shrine of King Taksin the Great
Located near the Tak TAT office, at the intersection of Charojwithithong Road and Mahatthai Bamrung Road, the Shrine houses Tak's most famous statue of King Taksin the Great. The Shrine was established in 1947 to honor King Taksin the Great who, as a designated ruler of Tak, successfully defeated the Burmese invasion of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. During his reign, he moved the capital from Phra Nakon Si Ayutthaya to the bank side of Maenam Chao Praya and named it Krung Thonburi. That is why his statue, which is in the sitting position with a sword lying across his lap, has the following inscription at the base Phra Chao Taksin of Krung Thonburi. The site is also a center of an annual celebration during December 28 January 3.
Taksin Maharat National Park
This national park is located at tambon Mae Tor and Pa Wor, 2 kilometers off of the km. 26 marker on the Tak-Mae Sot Highway No. 105. The Park was previously known as Krabak Yai National Park, after the name of Thailand's record-holding tree which has a height of 50 meters and a circumference of 16 meters. With an area of 37,250 acres comprised mostly of high-altitude mountains, the park features several stunning attractions including the nine-tiered Nam Tok Mae Ya Pa, a natural stone bridge and giant Kabak trees. The stone bridge is a 25-meter high stone strip that bridges two cliffs with a brook flowing below the bridge. Approximately 78.5 meters further from the cliff is a cave with beautiful stalagmites and stalactites. Bird lovers, should not miss the opportunity to see both resident and migratory birds in the park. Accommodations available include bungalows and campsites; call the Park Office at 0-5551-1429 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. Entrance fees are 200 for adults and 100 for children.
Trok Ban Chin (Ban Chin Alley)
Located in Tambon Rahang, near Wat Sri Talaram, Trok Ban Chin was once the busiest place in Tak. An old port area, Trok Ban Chin used to be the center for trade and business transactions and also a distribution center for goods to and from Pak Nam Pho in Nakon Sawan Province. Today, Trok Ban Chin is not only a distant memory of the past but is also an ideal place for antique lovers and visitors interested in seeing original Thai-style teak homes.
Wat Mani Banphot
This temple houses the famous Saen Thong Buddha Image, which was casted in the Chiang Saen era and can be dated back to the late 1200s.
Wat Si Talaram
Located in Trok Ban Chin, Wat Sri Talaram is not just an ordinary temple located in a peaceful area. The most unique feature of Wat Sri Talaram is its European-style architecture, reflected in its ordination hall. In addition, enshrined within the sermon hall made of carved wood is an ancient Ayuthaya-style Buddha image.
Namtok Nang Khruan
A medium-size waterfall with a stream running down the different tiers, Namtok Nang Khruan is another tourist attraction for nature lovers. It is located 12 kilometers from Phop Phra District. To get there, drive along Highway 1090, turn right at Km. 31-32 towards Highway No. 1206 (to Phop Phra).
Located approximately 60 kilometers north of Tak city in Amphoe Sam Ngao is Bhumibol Dam, Thailand's largest dam. Formerlly known as Yanhi Dam, this is Thailands first all-purpose dam, built from concrete designed as a huge curve cutting across Maenam Ping between Khao Kaew and Khao Yanhi. The dam produces most of Thailand's hydro-electric power and ranks 8th in the world of hydro-electricity producing dams. The Dam is operated by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, which also provides on-site accommodations. Call 02 436 - 3179 or 02 424-0101 for further details.
Mae Ping Lake Cruise
Cruising the lake is a popular activity that tourist should not miss. The extensive reservoir extending to Chiang Mai's Hot District provides refreshing atmosphere and stunning backdrops along the lake. The regular route with a total distance of 140 kilometers starts from the Bhumibol Dam and ends at Doi Tao Self-Help Settlement in Chiang Mai.
Another interesting attraction at Bhumibol Dam is Valentine Island where visitors can enjoy sandy beaches suitable for swimming. To get to the island, the Dams office provides rental boats for the trip that takes only 15-30 minutes.
Mae Ka Sa Thermal Bath
Located inside Mae Ka Sa village, the place offers several thermal baths with beautiful scenery. Facilities for tourists are available.
Namtok Mae Ka Sa
Lcated in Mae Ka Sa village, this small waterfall can be traveled to all year round. The waterfall has a stream running down from a high cliff in the midst of lush forest. A large pond situated on the upper level is perfect for swimming as it is filled with water all year.
Tham Mae Usu (Mae Usu Cave)
Located on the magnificent Mae Sot, Mae Sariang Highway No. 1085 at Km. 95-96, this cave boasts an underworld of natural wonders. Inside the cave are striking stalactites and stalagmites formations. It is not advised to visit the cave during the rainy season as the only entrance for visitors is through Mae Usa stream at the entrance of the cave.
Ban Loe Tong Ku
Lae Tong Ku is a village where residents still wear traditional clothes and continue to live a simple life. The Karen living in this village differs from other Karens as they worship a Hermit. They have their own rites which are chanted by the head of Lae tong Ku village. They also worship an image of the Lord Buddha crafted out of a sacred 400-year old tusk. To enter the village, permission from the 347th Border Patrol Police must be obtained. Call 055 561 008 for more information. Visitors are not recommended to travel on their own.
Ban Pa La Tha
An ancient Karen village where villagers still dress in their original costumes, Pa La Tha is a place for visitors who appreciate Karens' traditional way of life. The village is located along the rafting route to Thi Lo su, Thi Lo Cho and Thi Lo Re. It usually is the stopover spot for visitors who want to stay overnight before rafting to the waterfalls and for those who love the challenge of trekking and elephant riding.
Ban Thi Po Chi
Another Karen village situated in the middle of a scenic forest. The houses in Thi Po Chi are made of natural materials such as logs and leaves within the serene natural environment. For more information, call the TAT Office in Tak Province at 05 551 4341-3.
Doi Hua Mot
Doi Hua Mot is situated in Ban Umphang, just 4 kilometers from Umphang city. Limestone hills without single large tree but carpeted by blossoming shrubs and wild flowers stretching for approximately 30 kilometers, Doi Hua Mot is definitely a place for people who welcome a break from typical hills. The peak of Doi Hua Mot is ideal place to appreciate the Sea of mist and spectacular sunrise at dawn. The lookout point provides a panoramic view of Umphang and the breathtaking lush, fertile forests.
This medium-size waterfall is located in the area of Ban Sepla, Tambon Mae Lamung. The unique feature of the waterfall which has a width of about 10 meters and a length of about 50 meters lies in its cascading tiers with water flowing over a limestone cliff down several tiers.
Namtok Thi Lo Cho (Falling Rain Waterfall)
Located approximately 3 kilometers from Umphang along the Umphang-Ban Palatha route, Thi Lo Cho is an 80-meter high medium-sized waterfall. Its first tier, located on a high cliff, has a stream of water that flows to the second tier which then flows down to Maenam Mae Klong. The name Thi Lo Cho is derived from the fact thath the stream, when flowing down to the rocks below, sprinkles like rain all year round. The surrounding areas of Namtok Thi Lo Cho are covered with green moss and ferns.
Namtok Thi Lo Re
A newly-developed tourist attraction, Namtok Thi Lo Re is also situated in the Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary (declared by the UNESCO as a world heritage in 1999). Thi Lo Rae differs from other Thi Lo waterfalls in that it is the only waterfall that runs down to the rock.
To get there from Mae Sot, take a left turn to enter Highway No. 1090 (Mae Sot-Umphang) and proceed for 164 kilometers. The trip takes approximately 4-5 hours.
Namtok Thi Lo Rae is accessible by rafting along Maenam Mae Klong. Visitors can choose to travel from Umphang to the Karen village either by car or raft, then staying overnight there and continuing the journey by raft. For those who consider rafting a relaxing activity, please note that it's a 2-day rafting trip. Although it's highly recommended to travel during November-January, please call the TAT Office in Tak Province (Tel: 05 551 4341-3) for more information.
Namtok Thi Lo Su
Namtok Thi Lo Su is located in the Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which links with the Thung Yai Naresuan and Huay Kha Kaeng Reserves, as well as Khlong Lan and Mae Wong National Parks. Together, they form Thailand's largest wildlife haven and Southeast Asia's top virgin forest. Thi Lo in the local language means waterfall and Su means loud, thus, Thi Lo Su means waterfall that makes a loud noise. This is due to its size and the intense flow of the stream. In Karen, "Thi Lo Su" means Black Waterfall.
The biggest and the most beautiful waterfall in Thailand, Namtok Thi Lo Su is also considered the sixth biggest waterfall in the world. The waterfall itself originates from Huai Klotho, streaming along limestone cliffs at the height of 200-300 meters down to cascading tiers which are surrounded by intact natural forests. There is a cave behind the waterfall worth exploring and several levels of pools for swimming.
To get there, visitors can either raft or drive. For those deciding to drive a 4WD vehicle, the distance is 47 kilometers from Umphang to the wildlife sanctuary office. From there, visitors have to walk along the 1.5 kilometers self-guided forest trail which provides unrivalled natural forest scenery. Please note that vehicles can possibly reach the office only during November to April. In the rainy season, Thi Lo Su is accessible only by rafting along Maenam Mae Klong. From the drop-off point, visitors have to continue on foot for approximately 4-5 hours.
Camping at the Wildlife Sanctuary Headquarters is allowed near the falls, especially during November December, when the waterfall is at its most beautiful.
Visitors are advised to make enquiries with the TAT Office in Tak Province (Tel: 05 551 4341-3) regarding travel conditions and camping opportunities.
A spacious cave naturally and beautifully decorated with stalagmites and stalactites is located in Ban Mae Klong Mai, approximately 3 kilometers from Umphang. The cave itself is 3 kilometers deep with a large chamber inside the cave with a walkway connecting to Ban Mae Klong Mai.
164 kilometers south of Mae Sot on Highway 1090 is Umphang District which is another district in Tak Province that shares a border with Myanmar. Highway No. 1090 from Mae Sot to Umphang offers a picturesque view with the highest peak at 1,200 meters above sea level along the 164 kilometers of winding roads that takes approximately 4 hours to complete. However, travelers coming from Tak city, have to travel along Highway No. 105 (Tak-Mae Sot route), then turn on to the Mae Satum Phang Highway (Highway No. 1090). The total distance is 249 kilometers.
Part of a World Heritage Site, Umphang is renowned for its natural charming beauty and jungle trekking and rafting activities that visitors put at the top of their travel agenda.
Apart from numerous attractions suitable for ecotourism, Umphang is a former Karen settlement and is currently home to several hill tribes including Karen, Lisu, Hmong, Mien and Lahu. Umphang is populated mostly by Karen people who are in particular, very traditional. They live simply and maintain contact with nature using elephants at work and as a means of transportation.