Boat Trip to Chiang Rai
Boat Trip to Chiang Rai information
Long-tail boats make the journey between Chiang Rai and Tha Ton daily. It is a scenic, forested route past thatch-hut villages and fisherfolk casting nets in the shallows.
The boat takes up to 12 passengers and makes pit stops along the way. The best time to go is at the end of the rainy season in November when the river level is high. The travel time depends on river conditions, taking anywhere from three to five hours.
Some travellers make the trip two or three stages, stopping first in Mae Salak, a large Lahu village, or Ban Ruammit, a Karen village. Both are well touristed, but you can get off the path by joining a trek from here to Shan, Thai and hill-tribe villages. Doi Wawi, south of Mae Salak, is a large multi-ethnic community of jeen hor, hill-tribe and Thai peoples known for its coffee and tea plantations; Chiang Mai's Wawee coffeeshops get their beans from this district. The Wawi area has dozens of hill-tribe villages of various ethnicities, including Thailand's largest Akha community (Saen Charoen) and the oldest Lisu settlement (Doi Chang).
You can also make the trip (much more slowly) upriver from Chiang Rai; this is possible despite the rapids. The boats are also available for charter hire (2200B, six people).