Thaton (ท่าตอน, also spelt Tha Ton) is a small village in northern Chiang Mai Province, Northern Thailand with a number of hotels and guesthouses of varying prices.
Thaton is located between Mae Ai and Mae Chan in northern Chiang Mai province, Thailand. It is a town on the banks of the Kok River. It has a relaxed atmosphere, and some people hang out for a few days or weeks. There are a small number expats as permanent residents. There are a number of guesthouses along the banks of the river and more in the town itself. The picturesque views from Thaton hill and the banks of the river, and a small town feel combine to make this a nice place to hang out.
Thaton to Chiang Mai is about 180 km by road and takes about 3 hours, but with some adequate scenery along the way (especially through the twists and turns of a mountain just north of Chiang Dao, hold your lunch).
You can take the boat from Thaton to Chiang Rai, which takes about 3 hours. There is a government boat at 12:30 and costs 350 baht, minimum 4 people. You can also charter private boats. The public boat is apparently not running usually from May - July as the river "doesn't have enough water" but you can still hire a private boat and get down the river for 2200 Baht. Also, can pay for an hour or two rather than a full one-way journey. This is a less expensive and less tiring experience especially if one is hanging out for a day around Thaton itself before departing.
From Chiang Rai to Thaton is an upriver trip, and takes about 5 hours (but time varies based on season, boat condition, and number of passengers).
The bus station is near the bridge. Buses depart from/to Chang Phuak Bus Station in Chiang Mai several times a day with the journey taking about 3 or 4 hours (prices are around 90 baht). The buses are usually easily identifiable with English information on them. Buses to Chiang Rai and Bangkok also run, albeit less frequently. A journey to Chiang Rai takes a couple of hours and to Bangkok about 12 hours (890 km). In May 2012 there was only one bus to Chang Rai that left at 15:00 and you had to change in Mae Chiang.
From Thaton you can also go to Mae Salong, and on to the Thailand/Myanmar border at Mae Sai/Tachilek.
Thaton is a small town, and the central area around the bridge and can easily be explored on foot (though the incorporated area is more sprawling with a population of 20,000).
A songthaew can easily be hired if you need to travel to other villages.
Motorbike may be available for rent at tourist accommodations for 300/400 THB per day.
- Wat Tha Ton (วัดท่าตอน), ☎ 053 053609, . A large monastery bordering the village, it occupies an area of more than 160 acres on a number of hills. There are nine stations to visit for Buddhist pilgrims. Each station has something on it to visit, such a big Buddha image or a stupa. Level 4 has a meditation centre, where they teach vipassana meditation. Support for English is not supported though foreigners are welcome if they can speak and understand Thai, or come with people who can translate. Also, Nov-Jan is when there are few people at the temple and meditators are discouraged from attending at this time. Level 8 is a very large chedi and several statues. Level 9 is two kilometers from level 8, on a paved footpath the forest with a large standing buddha at the end of the path. The temple complex is on the bank of the Mae Nam Kok (Kok River) and offers beautiful scenery. The temple also houses a school for monks, novices, and youths as well as a drug rehabilitation centre and a hill tribe support unit. edit
Thaton is the launching point for river trips to Chiang Rai, as well as hill tribe villages in the surrounding hills. You can make a half-day longtail boat trip to Chiang Rai from here. Within 20 km of Thaton you can visit local villages, inhabited by Pauang, Black Lahu, Akha, and Yunnanes. Treks and raft trips can be arranged through guesthouses and hotels in town. The hot springs seen on the tourist map on the highway going east from town were supposed to be developed but so far (December 2014) they're just a very small pond with bubbling hot water. There are also orange orchards with dragon fruit plantations located along the road heading to Mae Chan; the Thanathon Orchard (about 7km from the Mae Kok river) offers tours around the place for 40 baht.
Tourist Map of Thaton Subdistrict, Chiang Mai Province, Northern Thailand
On the grounds of Wat Thaton (level 2) there is the occasional open air market where the hill tribe members sell crafts and snacks.
There are a number of small roadside restaurants, stalls and bars serving Thai and some Western food. There are also several restaurants along the river. These have Thai food, especially seafood (some from the river, other from local fish farms). Drinks are the standard Thai beer choices and various Thai whisky options. Some places also have Wifi.
For packaged foods, there is a 7-11 one block west of the bridge. The local morning market is a prime spot for fresh produce.
Much more extensive restaurant options abound in nearby Mae Ai.
- Marble Restaurant: in front of the 7-11, just across the street. Farang-oriented bar/restaurant, with decent Thai food including great Northern dishes. Adequate service and nice staff, medium price range.
- At the beginning of Soi 7 (after crossing the bridge, head towards the 7-11 and it'll be the second turn to the left) there's a noodles soup stand. No English menu and owners doesn't understand any Englsih other than "chicken soup", and still huge, amazingly tasty dishes.
- Just before the 7/11 if you're coming from the bridge there's Pattara restaurant. Small restaurant/coffeeshop which also has Pizza and Pasta dishes on the menu. Decent food, the owner is doing her utmost best to both serve and cook at the same time, which means orders can be very slow. Try the waffles. Open from approx 8am to last orders around 8pm.
The cheapest beers are from the shop, 50 baht for a big bottle.
- Apple Resort, 352 moo 14, Tha Ton (opposite the boat launch. Go over the bridge towards Chang Rai and turn right, it is the fourth set of buildings on the right), ☎ 053 373 144, 089 202 7290 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: (053) 373 145). Has a range of bungalows, bigger ones with balconies and air-con overlooking the river. Smaller ones at the back with a fan and small verandas overlooking a garden. All well-maintained and clean. Overall Apple has 19 rooms and is the largest guesthouse operating in Thaton. Good choices and a great river location. The attached restaurant serves decent quality Thai food and reasonable farang food. Wifi available in some rooms though we couldn't get it to work on a recent stay. AIS 3G worked fine in the area. Book ahead for holidays, they do fill up. Depends on room and season. 350 baht in the the low season for some rooms. 1,000 baht for modern rooms overlooking the river with air conditioning.. edit
- Areeya Phuree Resort, 84 Moo 3 (on the Chiang Mai side of the bridge. If you are coming from Chiang Rai and cross the bridge, take the second road on your left (Soi 7) and follow it to the end. There is a sign at the soi entrance.), ☎ 089-143-7688, . checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. Scenic riverside resort set in a garden. Suitable for a wide range of budgets. Includes a pool, Wi-Fi, and restaurant. 225+ baht. edit
- Chankasem Guesthouse, 209 m.3 Thaton (Coming from Chiangmai, turn right just before the bridge. Go about 100m. its where the road turns right.), ☎ (053) 053613, (086) 197 7914. They run the large restaurant on the river. Motorbikes for rent at 350baht/day. No wifi. 200+ Baht. edit
- Khun Maekok Tara Resort, 555 Moo 3 Ban Thaton, Soi 7 (On the Chiang Mai side of the bridge. If you are coming from Chiang Rai and cross the bridge, take the second road on your left (Soi 7) and follow it for approx. 150 metres, the accomodation is on the left side, big sliding gate.), ☎ 081-3048881. checkin: anytime; checkout: 12:00. Renting tents (!), motorbikes, cars, you can also dine with them. Very kind and always smiling family, they usually keep you supplied with fresh fruit of all kinds during the morning and evening. They speak basic English. Normally 200+ Baht, in lower season negotiable to 150 Baht.. edit
- Naam Waan Guesthouse, 364 M. 3 Fang-Thaton Rd., Thaton, Mae-Ai, Chiangmai 50280 (Coming from Chiangmai, take right just before the bridge. It will be on the right near the coffee shop less than 50m down.), ☎ (089) 554 3642, (089) 5564194. Closes early in the evening. 200 baht for a room with cold shower, 250 for hot shower. Free WiFi. 200+ baht. edit
- Old Tree's House (charming hotel on the hill), 323 Ban Rumthai, ☎ +66 85 722 9002, . checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. Just out of Thaton, on a hill with a great view over the Mae Kok River, the mountains and the rice fields. Includes breakfast, Wi-Fi, laundry, swimming pool. 1,000 baht. edit
- Tha Ton Garden Riverside Resort, 17 Moo 14 Thaton, Mae-Ai, Chiangmai 50280 (Coming from Chiangmai, cross the bridge and take the first left. Its will be the less than 50m on the left.), ☎ (053) 053 686, mobile: (081) 951 7102 (fax: (053) 373 154), . checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. There is WiFi and TV in every room. 200/400/500 fan/ac/riverside baht. edit
- Dee's Guesthouse Homestay, 430, Gangsaimoon Tha Ton, Mae Ai,, ☎ 0612844683, . 3 Individual charming and unique bamboo bungalow houses on a hillside. Close to town but a country atmosphere and a wonderful host. all bungalows comes with toilets and spacious balcony overlooking the hills. Includes Breakfast daily tours and hikes or local farms and orchards visiting. Wifi available, bicycles for rent, cold and hot (winter only) showers available. 800. edit
There is a tourist police station near the bridge, although there is no major crime problem in Thaton.
Be aware of stray dogs, as always in Thailand but more in the small cities, if they bark at you from the distant or they show aggressive behaviour (especially in group) avoid eye contact, walk away without running and looking indirectly at them (stepping backward). If they come too close aggressively, use your backpack or bag or a stick if you have, and put it in between you and them to avoid any bites. If bitten, try to get rabies vaccination as soon as possible at the closer hospital.
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