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, however used mostly by tourists. 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 2400 Baht (Nov 2019). Off season it might be difficult to get the minimum capacity if you travel alone. The boat ride includes 3 stops (Native Village of various tribes, hot springs with some nice cafes, an elephant sanctuary where you can ride(sic!) on the animal in the river). Recommend to take earplugs. 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 400 THB per day. Best to rent from Chiang Rai as there's only one rental shop in Thaton. With no competition, the price is double
- 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, or just an hour trip down the river and back, which is relaxing. 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.The prices for oranges, which are grown locally in large orchards, is usually more expensive than buying the very same fruit in markets in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai.
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 many small restaurants serving Thai and some Western food. Also a couple of Chinese(KMT) owned restaurants. A few restaurants along the river serve locally caught fish, both from the river and from local fish farms. Also several street vendors in the late afternoon and early evening hours sell food items often not found in restaurants, such as Rotis and "Thousand year old" eggs.
For packaged foods, there is a 7-11 one block south of the bridge. The local morning market is a prime spot for fresh produce. There is a nice fruit stand located near Sunshine Cafe that sells chilled coconut juice, straight from the coconut.
- The Harbor Coffee Shop, (located close to the Thaton boat landing). in addition to delicious espresso, Harbour Coffee also has Thai food and western style breakfast options. edit
- Sunshine Cafe, (located near the 7-11, on the opposite side of the street). A popular restaurant catering to tourists and local Thais alike. Excellent Thai food and some western dishes. Nice atmosphere. Also wonderful espresso and baguettes. edit
- Pattara Restaurant, (located near the 7-11, on the same side of the street). Small restaurant/coffeeshop which also has Pizza and Pasta dishes on the menu. Try the waffles. Open from approx 8am to last orders around 8pm. edit
- Garden Home Guesthouse Restaurant. has good Thai style food and fruit shakes, as well as western style breakfast options. edit
There are no bars currently in Thaton, although most restaurants serve alcohol.
- Garden Home Nature Resort, 14 Mu 14 Ban Thaton (If traveling north from Chiang Mai, cross the bridge and take the first road to the left for about 100 meters. Located on the river is Garden Home Nature Resort, not to be confused with Thaton Garden Riverside Resort, which is also located on the same road.), ☎ 053 373 015. Garden Home is a wonderful place, especially if you like quiet. Surrounded by lychee trees are small bungalows suitable for one or two people for 500 baht/night. Larger bungalows overlooking the river are 1,500 baht. For the budget traveler Garden Home also has four rooms available, each with a private bathroom, for 300 baht/night (all prices still accurate Feb 2018). Garden Home Nature Resort has been around for decades, although most of the bungalows have been freshly rebuilt as of a few years ago. There is also a restaurant located on the property, with good food and fruit shakes. Free WiFi in every room. Motorcycles for rent at 300 baht/day. Reservations are not necessary. 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 in Thaton.
Be aware of stray dogs, especially if riding a bicycle. If they show aggressive behavior (especially in group) avoid eye contact and move away slowly. In the unlikely event of a bite, get a rabies vaccination as soon as possible at Mae Ai Hospital, located 9 kilometers south of Thaton in the town of Mae Ai.
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