UTHAI THANI (100 kilometers south of Kamphaeng Phet and 222 kilometers northwest of Bangkok) lies in a region that has a long history and features great ethnic diversity and unspoiled wilderness that provides refuge for many endangered wildlife species, particularly within Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Reserve, a Natural World Heritage Site. Visitors can also see the different lifestyles of Uthai Thani locals, such as the life of raft residents on the Sakae Krang River, a waterway that has been a lifeline for the people of Uthai Thani since ancient times. At the end of the Buddhist Lent, Buddhists from many regions congregate at the foot of Khao Sakae Krang in Wat Sangkat Rattana Khiri for a major merit-making tradition called Tak Bat Thewo.

Uthai Thani is located in the lower northern region of Thailand. The city of Uthai Thani lies somewhat off the main route between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Consequently, few tourists go out of their way to visit this somewhat remote province, whose attractions include a museum with prehistoric artifacts, a number of ruins, colorful cave paintings, hot springs, and a buffalo market. Visitors looking for unspoiled Thai countryside and authentic Thai hospitality will not be disappointed by a holiday in Uthai Thani.

Tourist Office and Website: Tourism Authority of Thailand , Uthai Thani Office, Uthai Thani Tourism Promotion Center, Sri Uthai Road, Amphoe Mueang, Uthai Thani, Tel. +66 5651 4982, Fax. +66 5651 2916, E-mail Address: tatuthai@tat.or.th, Website: http://www.tourismthailand.org/uthaithani . Accommodation: Although not a major center for tourism, Uthai Thani has a variety of accommodation options including modern hotels and home stays with rural villagers.

Getting to Uthai Thani: By Bus: There are daily regular and air-conditioned Bangkok – Uthai Thani buses departing regularly between 05.00am and 4.00pm. For more information, please contact Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2), Tel: 0 2936 2852-66, or Uthai Thani Bus Terminal, Tel 0 5651 1914, or visit www.transport.co.th . By Car: 1) From Bangkok, take Highway No. 32, through Ayutthaya, Ang Thong, Sing Buri, and Chai Nat, and then turn left at km.206 in Tha Nam Oi. From there, cross the bridge spanning the Chao Phraya River and turn left onto Road No. 333 to Uthai Thani. The total distance is around 222 kilometers. 2) From Bangkok, take Highway No. 32 through Ayutthaya, and then turn left, crossing the bridge to Ang Thong. Go through Sing Buri and Amphoe Sapphraya, past the Chao Phraya Dam, and through Amphoe Wat Sing and Wat Tha Sung until you arrive at Uthai Thani Market. The total distance is about 283 kilometers. 3) From Bangkok, take Road No. 340 past Suphan Buri, and then turn left onto Road No. 357 and right onto No. 322 past Amphoe Don Chedi. From there, turn right onto Road No. 3264 to Ban Sa Krachom, then turn right onto Road No. 333 to the Ban Rai intersection and another right to Uthai Thani. The total distance is about 302 kilometers.

Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary

Thung Yai Naresuan Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1991. Covering an area of 3,609,375 rai or 5,775 square kilometers in six districts of three provinces, it includes the area of Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary and is part of the largest virgin in Thailand and Southeast Asia.

Huai Kha Khaeng contains five out of the seven kinds of tropical forests: dry evergreen forest, montane forest, savanna, mixed deciduous forest, and deciduous dipterocarp forest. These forests are blessed with great biodiversity and includes many endangered species such as wild water buffalo, serow, leopard, Asiatic wild dog, red junglefowl, green peafowl, and many species of forest insects. Normally, the wildlife sanctuary does not open for tourists because there are worries about the ecological damage they might cause. balance. However, since it became a World Heritage Site, the park started allowing travelers to visit three points of areas to learn about nature without staying overnight. Tourists that make the visit have to follow the rules strictly. The permitted areas are: 1) The Headquarters of Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary; 2) Cyber Ranger Station; and 3) Huai Mae Di Ranger Station (in the area of Amphoe Ban Rai, on Route 3011, Huai Mae Di – Ban Mai Khlong Angwa. There is a nature study route.

The Khao Hin Daeng Nature Study Route is approximately six kilometers long, taking about 4 hours to travel on foot. There are 18 points to observe a particular aspect of the rain forest as well as a sight-seeing point, Pong Thian. After December, there are a lot of birds of various species in the park. Among them are the red-breasted parakeet and lineated barbet. Normally, tourists can travel on this route by themselves, using a manual provided at the headquarters of the sanctuary. For a guide, please contact Huai Kha Khaeng Forest Fire Prevention Unit in advance at Tel. 0 5651 3527. The weather is very hot in summer, and it rains heavily all day in the rainy season. Winter lasts for a very short period.

Hours Open: Open from 6.00am - 6:00pm. Contact: : Thung Yai Naresuan Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary Thung Yai Naresuan Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. PS Box 7, Amphoe Lan Sak, Uthai Thani, Tel. 0 5651 3527 Accommodation: To stay overnight, contact the Wildlife Sanctuary Management Subdivision in person at least 20 days in advance at the Wildlife Conservation Office, Department of National Park, Wildlife and Flora. For further information, please contact Tel. 0 2561 4292-3 ext. 765 or Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, P.O. Box 7, Amphoe Lan Sak, Uthai Thani 61160 or Tel. 0 5651 9654. There are 3 permitted points for staying overnight. The first point is in the area of the sanctuary office, including 3 houses with a capacity of 10-30 persons and the training building with a capacity of 80 persons. The second point is at the Cyber Ranger Station, and the third one is at the Huai Mae Di Ranger Station. Website: Official Thailand National Park website, Use Google translate /park.dnp.go.th

Getting There: To get there, take one of these 2 routes: 1. Enter at the headquarters of Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, approximately 102 km. from the provincial city along Highway No. 333 (Uthai Thani – Nong Chang). Then take Highway 3438 from Nong Chang – Lan Sak. After turning left at km. 53-54 and driving along for about 15 km., arriving at the office of Khao Hin Daeng Checkpoint, located on the Huai Thap Salao creek side. From the sanctuary office, drive for 14 km. to the Kapuk Kapiang Ranger Station or 17 km. to the Khao Nang Ram Research Station. 2. Enter at the Khao Bandai Ranger Station, which is in the south of Huai Kha Khaeng, approximately 137 km. from the provincial city, along Highway 333, the Uthai Thani - Nong Chang route. Then, turn into Highway 3282, Nong Chang - Ban Rai route, taking about 80 km. Turn left to a laterite road, passing Ban Mai Khlong Aangwa for 30 km. until reaching the Khlong Rayang Border. Go along to Huai Maedi and the Khao Bandai Ranger Station. Visitors can choose forest trekking to the north or the south of the Huai Kha Khaeng Creek. In the rainy season, it is difficult to drive through the entrance due to flooding on the laterite road.

Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries was designated a a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991. According to UNESCO: “Stretching over more than 600,000 ha along the Myanmar border, the sanctuaries, which are relatively intact, contain examples of almost all the forest types of continental South-East Asia. They are home to a very diverse array of animals, including 77% of the large mammals (especially elephants and tigers), 50% of the large birds and 33% of the land vertebrates to be found in this region. The site comprises two contiguous wildlife sanctuaries: Thung Yai and Huai Kha Khaeng, alongside the western international border with Myanmar, 300 km north-west of Bangkok. [Source: UNESCO]

“The terrain in Huai Kha Khaeng is generally hilly with many permanent and seasonal streams. The highest peak lies in the extreme north of the sanctuary. Valleys are interspersed with small lowland plains. In Thung Yai the topography is more dissected with a network of many permanent rivers and streams dividing the area onto valleys and lowland plains. A distinguishing feature is a large central grassland plain, from which the Sanctuary takes the name of Thung Yai ('big field'). Within the catchment area are four important rivers, one of which flows through Burma to the Andaman Sea.

“A physical feature that is important for wildlife is the presence of mineral licks. These occur throughout the sanctuary as either wet or dry, and most appear to be located on, or around, granite intrusions in areas with red-yellow podzolic soil and may be associated with the massive faults or lineaments in the intensely folded geomorphology of this area. Small lakes, ponds and swampy areas occur, some being seasonal whereas others are perennial; these are important wildlife habitats; limestone sinkholes are found.

“Five types of forest can be distinguished: the highest slopes are covered with hill evergreen forest, whereas slopes above 600 m generally support dry semi-evergreen forest. The rest of the sanctuary supports mixed deciduous and bamboo forest, and dry dipterocarp forest in areas with poor or shallow soil. Along some rivers and streams, evergreen gallery forest occurs.

Thung Yai also has two specific features not common in other areas which add to its uniqueness. One is the existence of a large grassland plain and surrounding savannah forest made up of cycads and Phoenix palm, a feature not known elsewhere in the region. The second feature is the existence of Thailand's most extensive riparian forests. Being contiguous with the forest of Myanmar there are longer term prospects for a transfrontier reserve between the two countries. This would greatly add to its integrity as there is cross-border migration of some species and Thai logging concessions in Myanmar could be reduced. Some 3,800 tribal people live within Thung Yai, whereas there is no resident population within Huai Kha Khaeng.”

Animals in Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries

These forests are blessed with great biodiversity and includes many endangered species such as wild water buffalo, serow, leopard, Asiatic wild dog, red junglefowl, green peafowl, and many species of forest insects. After December, there are a lot of birds of various species in the park. Among them are the red-breasted parakeet and lineated barbet. According to UNESCO: The fauna of both Thung Yai and Huai Kha Khaeng includes an unusual mix of species with primarily Sundaic, Indo-Chinese, Indo-Burmese and Sino-Himalayan affinities, many of whose ranges do not overlap. Species lists have been compiled that include 120 mammals, 400 birds, 96 reptiles, 43 amphibians and 113 freshwater fish. 34 internationally threatened species are also found within the confines of the two sanctuaries. It also is home to 22 species of woodpecker, more than any other park in the world. The reason for such exceptional diversity is partly due to its status as one of only two evergreen forest refuges during the driest periods of the Pleistocene glaciations. Few areas in Asia are large enough to support viable populations of large herbivores (300 elephants) and predators (e.g. tigers).

”The species listed below represent a small sample of iconic and/or IUCN Red Listed animals and plants found in the property. Clicking on the number in brackets next to the species will reveal other World Heritage Properties in which a species has been identified. These species are identified in an effort to better communicate the biological diversity contained within World Heritage properties,

”Aceros nipalensis, Rufous-cheeked Hornbill, Albizia odoratissima, Anisoptera cochinchinensis, Aonyx cinerea Asian Small-clawed Otter, Oriental Small-clawed Otter, Bauhinia acuminata, Bos gaurus Gaur, Indian Bison, Bos javanicus Banteng, Tembadau, Bubalus arnee Asian Buffalo, Asiatic Buffalo, Indian Buffalo, Indian Water Buffalo, Water Buffalo, Wild Asian Buffalo, Wild Water Buffalo, Cairina scutulata / White-winged Duck, White-winged Wood Duck, Capricornis sumatraensis Serow, Sumatran Serow.

Nakhon Sawan: Site of Giant Buddha with a Wormhole?

Nakhon Sawan (30 kilometers north of Uthai Thani and three hours north of Bangkok) is the home of “Khao Kala” a giant Buddha that is said to be located by a wormhole used by aliens to travel to different dimensions. “Nakhon Sawan means” "City of Heaven" Rosie Perper wrote in Insider: “A group of Buddhist worshippers on a remote hilltop in Thailand believe that aliens communicate with people in the area. The remote area is located on a hill among a sugar cane plantation. Believers say the hill hides a secret wormhole that allows aliens from Pluto and elsewhere to travel between different dimensions. As alien seekers flock to the area, local police are becoming increasingly frustrated. Officers have recently raided the area and expressed concern that the influx of tourism could endanger the protected forests. There is no substantive evidence that the site has supernatural or alien qualities. [Source: Rosie Perper, Insider, October 8, 2019]

“Several news outlets, including CNN and Vice, have recently traveled to the area, where some people believe humans can telepathically communicate with aliens. Believers practice meditation at Hill 145, where a giant Buddha statue sits below a statue of a seven-headed snake. Several other Buddhist statues, including one called "Buddha's Footprint" stand nearby. Somjit Raepeth, a member of Khao Kala group or UFO Khao Kala, a group that believes that the area possesses supernatural qualities, told the Post in 2015 that members practice strict Buddhist principles and were able to contact aliens from Pluto and another planet called Logu Kata Paka Tigong, located somewhere in the Milky Way. "They have high virtues and morals," she told the Bangkok Post. "The only way to make contact with them is to practice dhamma (Buddhist teachings) to the highest levels."

”According to CNN, followers of the ideology believe that people can hear the aliens through meditation, and have described the aliens as "slender, little, silvery humanoids." Some followers have reported seeing UFOs and silhouettes of figures on the hilltop, while others say they were actually spun around by alien powers. Wassana Chuensamnaun, a lead campaigner for the extraterrestrials, told CNN that aliens from Pluto "are made of energy" and have expressed concern about devastation on Earth. “Loku aliens, he says, have "knowledge of high technology" and present in physical form. He says Pluto's alien leader claimed Buddha was the "greatest human mind." According to local daily Khao Sod, a member of UFO Khao Kala predicted that World War III would break out by 2022. Wassana told CNN that aliens have promised to take care of a select few "survivors" in the event of such fallout.

”Authorities have not taken kindly to the overcrowding of tourists on the hilltop, which houses several Buddhist holy sites. In August, they raided the UFO sighting spot out of concern that travelers were jeopardizing the protected forests in the area by camping out and holding activities. In September, authorities and forestry officials returned again and confronted Wassana, along with others at the site, according to CNN. "If we find anyone guilty of wrongdoing, we will file a criminal case against them. "If a UFO descends and parks here, that's even better. We'll capture them all," Police Maj. Gen. Damrong Petpong told Khao Sod in August.”


KAMPHAENG PHET (100 kilometers south of Sukhothai and 358 kilometers north of Bangkok) was once historical city of strategic importance. Now it lies at the center of a charming, quiet province with many interesting natural and cultural attractions. Located in the lower portion of Northern Thailand along the banks of the Ping River, it is sandwhiched between flatlands to the east and mountains, with a of national parks and lush forests to the west. In the areas along the Ping River near te town of Kamphaeng Phet there were once a number of ancient towns that served as strategic front-line frontier-posts between the northern and central kingdoms. In fact, the name Kamphaeng Phet literally means “strong as walls” or “forts make of diamonds”. The capital city of Kamphaeng Phet is split into two: the new city, which appears very similar to a typical Thai provincial city, and the old city, encircled by the original fortification walls that now protect a historical park.

Kamphaeng Phet has been designated as a UNESCO World heritage Site. An important center of the Sukhothai kingdom, this walled city is smaller than Sukhothai but is blessed by pleasant, leafy surroundings and contains a number of interesting structures from the 13th and 14th century. They include Wat Phra That, with a beautiful round chedi; Wat Phra Kaeo, with a huge seated Buddha; and Lak Muang, the foundation stone of the city. There are also forest temples to the north of the city.

Kamphaeng Phet is a charming balance of old and new worlds, with comfortable accommodation available in the new city, and historical attractions in the wall-encircled old city. The town also features a lively street market, and day trip attractions include nearby Khlong Lan National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty filled with exotic flora and fauna.

Tourist Office and Website: 130, Charot Withi Thong Road, Tambon Thani, Amphoe Mueang, Sukhothai, 64000. Tel. 0 5561 6228-9, 0 5561 6366. Accommodation: Although not a major center for tourism, Kamphaeng Phet has a variety of accommodation options. Getting to Kamphaeng Phet: It is somewhat off the beaten path. Kamphaeng Phet is best reached via private car or public bus. However, it is possible to take a train or plane to nearby Ubon Ratchathani an then a short bus to Kamphaeng Phet. By Car: From Bangkok, take Highway No. 32 to Nakhon Sawan via Ayutthaya, Ang Thong and Sing Buri and then proceed along Highway No. 1 to Kamphaeng Phet, a total distance of 358 kilometers. By Bus: Both air-conditioned and non air-conditioned buses leave daily from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2). Call 0 2936 2852-66 or visit www.transport.co.th for more information.

Sights in Kamphaeng Phet

Kamphang Phet National Museum (Pindamri Road in Muang district ) houses ancient objects and other antique arts articles from various eras found in the provincial town. These include sculptured and earthen designs, heads of Buddha statues, traditional celadon products, sculptures of demons and celestial and human beings used to decorate Chedi bases or Vihans. Hours Open: Open Wednesday to Sunday from 9.00am-4.00pm More information at Tel: 0 5571 1570.

Kamphang Phet Historical Park (five kilometers from Kamphaeng Phet on the Kamphaeng Phet-Phran Kratai road) embraces ancient sites such as Muang Chakangrao to the east of the Ping River, Muang Nakhon Chum to the west and Muang Trai Trueng some 18 kilometers from the town to the southwest. Hours Open: Open everyday from 9:00am -5:00pm

There are also several ancient sites on the east bank of the Ping River, including Wat Arwat Yai, Wat Kalothai and Phra Ruang Road. Muang Nakhon Chum is an ancient town on the west bank of the Ping River. Its two-to-three- meter-high earthen walls run along the waterway. It is in this area that the famous religious tablets of Kamphaeng Phet have been discovered. Within the city walls are a couple of ancient sites such as the Kamphaeng Pom Thung Sethi, located on Phahonyothin Road just before entering the town. It is part of the laterite fortifications 83 meters long and 6 meters tall. Phra Borom Temple (Wat Phra Borom) That is a temple situated in the centre of Muang Nakhon Chum. It features a Burmese-style Chedi. To the south is an Ubosot housing several Sukhothai- and Ayutthaya-style bronze Buddha statues. The Chedi itself is believed to originally have been a Sukhothai-type structure, its style having been altered during a restoration work financed by a wealthy Burmese about a century ago.Another ancient town is Muang Trai Trueng. It was built by King Chaisiri of Chiang Rai who fled invading enemy in 1542 B.E. (circa 999). Today most of the structures are in disrepair with only ruins of Chedis and ramparts.

Chakangrao Ancient City

Chakangrao, the ancient Kamphaeng Phet town, had the same town planning concept as the old Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai, with separate zones for religious sites both within and outside of town limits. Structures are usually large and made of laterite. Religious sites on the west bank of the Ping River at Nakhon Chum are built of bricks and of smaller size.

Remains of the ancient sites within the city walls include: 1) City Walls and Old Fortifications mark the boundary of the rectangular town area, measuring 300 to 700 meters wide and 2,200 meters long. 2) Phra Kaeo Temple (Wat Phra Kaeo) is a large royal temple in old town centre near a site believed to have been a palace. The temple itself was used in important city events and had no monks in residence. Major features include the principal chedi with lion-adorned base and a round chedi with elephant-adorned base. There are also other chedis of different bases and remains of several chapels. Its boundary is marked off by laterite walls.

3) Second in size to Wat Phra Kaeo is Phra That Temple. Here the principal chedi is built of mixture of laterite and bricks with a 15-meter wide square base. The style is of Kamphaeng Phet architecture. 4) Sa Mon is the site of the palace. Located to the north of Wat Phra Kaeo, it embraces with a square earthen wall almost touching the northern city wall. Surrounding the walls on three sides are moats with a pond in the middle. There are no standing structures remaining today.

5) Phra Non Temple (Wat Phra Non) is fenced in by laterite walls on four sides. At the front of the temple are a square-shaped pond, bathrooms and an ancient floating pavilion which is supported by a large laterite column. The entire column was cut out in one single piece from its source and measures 1.1 meters on each side and 6.4 meters in height, the largest such stone in the country. A lion sculpture and Sema stones (boundary stones) can still be discerned. The large Vihan which once housed the Reclining Buddha has crumbled entirely.

6) Phra Si Iriyabot Temple (Wat Phra Si Iriyabot) is located to the north of Wat Phra Non and has similar pond and bathroom facilities as its neighbour. Walls on the four sides are of laterite materials with an entrance also made of laterite. A Mondop structure houses Buddha statues in four postures-walking, sitting, standing and reclining in the Sukhothai artistic style. Today only the statue in the standing posture still remains. 7) Phra Sing Temple (Wat Phra Sing) is believed to have been constructed during both the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya periods. With laterite walls, it has a square-shaped principal Chedi with arches on four sides. In front of the Ubosot are ornamental lion and Naga figurines.

8) Chang Rop Temple (Wat Chang Rop) is a large temple situated on a high hill. Its main Chedi of Ceylonese style is in the middle of the yard but its top part is broken down. The base is adorned with 68 half-elephants between which are Bhoti-shaped designs. There are also traces of demon and female dancers' figures remaining.

Mae Wong National Park

Mae Wong National Park (near Kamphaeng Phet, 370 kilometers northwest of Bangkok) was formerly of hill tribe center inhabited by Hmong, Yao, Muzer and Karen. Established in 1987 and covering 894 square kilometers in the provinces Nakon Sawan and Kampaeng Phet, the park is very rugged and hilly, especially on the north and west. It embraces the Tanon Thong Chai mountain range, one of highest mountain ranges in the west of Thailand. Three main rivers of which the Mae Wong River is the biggest drain the park. The rainy season is from June to October. November to February is mostly suitable for travelling.

The park’s main area is covered by mixed deciduous forest, in which has Tectona grandis (teak), Afzelia xylocarpa, Pterocarpus macrocarpus and xylia kerrii are the dominant trees. Evergreen forests are found in the deep valleys. Among the mammals found in the park are barking deer, wild pig, asiatic jackal, squirrels, civets and porcupine. There are also guar and maybe some tigers and elephants. There are also more than 450 species of bird some of which are rare in Thailand. Mokoju Peak (in Mae Wong National Park) is a dome of bald rock carpeted by a florid treeless meadow, overlooking a bottomless valley. Phoowadon Duangmee wrote in The Nation: “The peak thrusts high into the blue Kamphaeng Phet's sky rather like a giant mother hen guarding her chicks. The ridgelines that arch from the peak lead your eyes to a panoramic wall of mountains. At 1,964 meters, Mokoju is one of Thailand's highest peaks and it guards Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary - the country's last biological frontier. [Source: Phoowadon Duangmee, The Nation, January 5, 2011]

Mokoju earns its name from Karen tribe. It means "it looks like it's going to rain". You often see the mountain crowned by columns of clouds," says Yong, a 40-something hilltribe man who's the leader of our porters. "Up there, on the top of Mokoju Peak, you're above the forest and even the cloud. The canopy looks like broccoli." Mokoju Peak, thank to its panoramic beauty, draws hikers.

Location: Mae Wong National Park, Km 65, Khlong Lan District, Kamphaeng Phet Province 62180; Hours Open: Contact: Tel: 0 5576 6027, Kamphaeng Phet Zone: 090 457 9291 (Mae Wong National Park Office), Nakhon Sawan Zone: 098 797 3197 (Mae Rewa Unit), E-mail: maewong_np@hotmail.com Facebook: Mae Wong National Park Mae Wong National Park Accommodation: There are cabin tents, tents for six people, three person tents and camping grounds; Admission: Thai citizens: adults 40 baht, children 20 baht Foreigners: adults 200 baht, children 100 baht; Food: Kamphaeng Phet Zone opens daily from 8.00 a.m. - 4.30 p.m. Nakhon Sawan zone (Mae Rewa) has no welfare shops, restaurants, tourists should be prepared.

Getting There: go to Mae Wong National Park Office. From Nakhon Sawan, use Highway No. 1, Phahon Yothin Road to Khong Wilai Intersection. At 307 + 500 kilometer main, turn left onto Provincial Highway No. 1242 (pass Pang Silathong District) for about 40 kilometers, turn right onto Provincial Highway No. 1072 for another 10 kilometers, you will find Khlong Lan intersection. Turn left onto Provincial Highway No. 1117, Khlong Lan - Um Phang Road, approximately 15 kilometers to the Mae Wong National Park Office. Which is the location of the housing zone 1 (the national park office zone) and is the route to the villa zone 2 (channel zone) Website: Official Thailand National Park website, Use Google translate /park.dnp.go.th

Mokoju Peak Trek

The five-day Mokoju trail trek goes and up and down over 60 kilometers of bottomlands, steep ridgelines and challenging summits among rain forests, ending at the Mokoju Base Camp, 1,890 meters above sea level. The first 24 hours on the Mokoju Trail lead covers the high, rugged terrain of Mae Describing parts of the trek, Phoowadon wrote: “The second day sees us hiking along a dirt trail that twists through the bamboo forest. We see spiders, eye-catching mushrooms, leeches and other blood-sucking insects. Once in a while, we spot piles of animal dung. American classic hiking trails might be marked by posts and signs, but here in the evergreen forest of Mae Wong National Park our trail is certified by elephants, tigers and gaur.

""We share the trails with the wildlife," notes Withawat, the forest ranger, pressing his hiking shoe into a pile of dried dung, which he says was dropped by a wild cat or tiger. "From November to February, the hiking season, we own the trail. The rest of the year belongs to them." On the second night, we pitch our tents beside a stream. Yong and his team make a fireplace from three pieces of stone and we whip up fried sausages and canned sardines. Yong goes downstream, and returns with handful of young fern. The choices are deep-fried or stir-fried. It tastes a bit better, I observe, than licking your hiking pole. When it's time for a snack, we press sour pieces of wild fruit in "tribal seasoning" (monosodium glutamate, actually) and wash it down with a gulp of Smirnoff - a true Russian elixir!

Mokoju Trail, with all its challenges, stretches out nine kilometers along a steep ridgeline that's used in the rainy season by herds of gaur. The gaur, have no problem jumping the gruelling, steep path, but we're different. One foot in front of the other, we begin the hike walking in a small group, but soon we find ourselves spread out along the trail, each man and woman alone with their thoughts. Legs burn, knees protest, and soft feet chafe and blister. Backpacks are still loaded with camera gear and water, as well as extras yet to be jettisoned.

Billed as the country's most difficult trail, Mokoju has no place for the tourist. Many hikers are lured by the mountain beauty but are unable finish the trail. While their hiking companions go ahead, they are left behind with a porter at the campsite."Some hikers can make it to the top, but can't come down," says Pa, one of the porters. "They hang in there like a poor cat stuck in a tree. We have to take turns carrying them down." Though exhausted, we decide at the end of the third day to make one final push up the last of the steep summits.

This is, perhaps, the most magical ascent of our journey. The ridge to Mokoju peak is bald, covered with patches of green meadow, but the reward is a 360-degree view of the valleys below. The mountains are green on one side and dark on the other and in between them is the orange sun disappearing into the horizon. We drop our packs and sit still, trying to make the most out of this dramatic panoramic view. Down in the valley, the forest canopies look exactly, as Yong said, like giant broccoli heads.


TAK (70 kilometers west of Sukhothai, near Myanmar) was once a strategic military region between Thailand and Burma, Tak is now known for its bustling border markets, ethnic diversity, and natural beauty. Tak is a beautiful province almost entirely off the tourist map; consequently, visitors in search of true Thai hospitality and a peek at unspoiled everyday Thai culture are likely to find it here. While there are few tourist oriented sights and activities, this does not mean Tak is absent of attractions; in fact, Tak features spectacular natural attractions, including jungle covered mountains filled with animal life, hill tribe villages, and opportunities to go white water rafting, play golf, or visit a gibbon rehabilitation center.

Tak is a trading gateway to Myanmar, particularly at Amphoe Mae Sot, where lots of economic activity takes place along the border. In addition, Tak is located at the nexus of three major highways that connect Thailand's western border north, south, and east to Chong Mek and eventually Laos. Hill tribes found in the region including Karen, Lisu, Musoe (Lahu), Akha, Yao and Hmong.

Tourist Office and Website: Tourism Authority of Thailand, Tak Office, 193 Taksin Rd.,Tambon Nonglauang, Amphoe Muang, Tak 63000, Tel. +66 5551 4341-3, Fax. +66 5551 4344, E-mail Address: tattak@tat.or.th, Accommodation: Tak features a variety of accommodation options, both in the city and in the more remote regions, including the national parks. There are guesthouses, home stays, bungalows, and nicer resorts for those who require more creature comforts. Website: tourismthailand.org

Getting to Tak: Tak is a major hub for transportation in the region and easily reached directly by car or bus. It is also possible to take a train or plane to nearby Sukhothai or Phitsanulok and then a bus to Tak. By Train: There are no trains going directly to Tak. The nearest train station is in 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. By Air: There are flights to Mae Sot from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport. By Car: From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 (Phahonyothin Road) 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. By Bus: From Bangkok, air-conditioned buses depart from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2) to Tak between 5am and 10pm every day. The journey takes 6 hours. Call 0 2936 2852-66 or visit www.transport.co.th for updated schedules. Private bus companies, such as Thanchit Tour (Tel: 0 2551 1307) and Choet Chai Tour (Tel: 0 2551 1054) also operate daily bus services to Tak.

Sights in the Tak Area

Mae Usu Cave , which is situated along the border of Thailand and Myanmar, is considered the longest cave in the country. Many have wondered if they can reach the Myanmar Sea if they walk far enough. Old people believe it even so. Tee Lo Le is considered an amazing destination but it is difficult to get to. ting there, visiting this waterfall is quite difficult. So, not so many tourists successfully reach this spot except for those with an adventurous mind. With this alluring charm, however, seek out this waterfall close to the Mae Tee Lau Su Waterfall can be reached via a 40-kilometer road from Umphang. During the Loy Krathong Sai festival thousands of Krathongs (floating lanterns) are set adrift in the Ping River.

Ancient Tak City (along the Ping River, 25 kilometers north of Tak) contains several ruins including the legendary hill-top pagoda built in the Phum Khao Binth style of the 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, which itself features magnificently- crafted wooden door panels and roof decorations. The story of the Lord Buddha is depicted on the temple’s wooden window panels which are covered in real gold. Hours Open: Open everyday from 6.00am -5:00pm.

Thai – Myanmar Friendship Bridge connects the Asian Highway between Thailand and Myanmar. Traversing the Moei River, it 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 8.30am until 4.30pm. Border passes may be available for a fee from either Mae Moei City or the Mae Sot municipal government, Mae Sot, Tak 63110; The bridge is located in Tambon Tha Sai Tel. 0 5556 3002 – 4.

Mae Ping National Park (100 kilometers from Tak) covers an area of over 1,000 square kilometers. Its main feature is the Ping River, which flows through the forests in the park. On both sides are fertile forests with sheer cliffs providing beautiful natural scenery. Certain parts of the waterway spread out to form reservoir-like bodies of water with numerous small islands and rapids. Another attraction is the seven-level Ko Luang Waterfall, which is fed from lime streams. It is just 20 kilometers from the park headquarters and accessible by road. Fascinating stalactites and stalagmites are to be found inside nearby lime caves. Hours Open: The park is open everyday from 6.00am - 6:00pm. Admission: 100 baht for adults and 50 baht for children. Getting There: The Mae Ping National Park office is located some 20 kilometers off Highway No.106 at km.47. Contact: Tourists wishing to stay overnight are recommended to contact park headquarters at Tel. 0 2562 0760, www.dnp.go.th Website: Official Thailand National Park website, Use Google translate /park.dnp.go.th

Huai Khan Khaeng Wildlife Reserve (between Kanchanaburi, Tak and Uthai Thani Provinces) is located in the Dawna Range and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. It may be declared as Thailand's first Tiger Reserve. In all there are 21 kinds of predators in this 1000 square-mile rain forest park including Asiatic and clouded leopards, six cat species, two kinds of bear and seven species of civet. It is also a a good place to see rufous-necked hornbills. Website: Official Thailand National Park website, Use Google translate /park.dnp.go.th


MAE SOT (80 kilometers from Tak) lies at the center of a kind-of Wild Wast place near the Myanmar border. Karen insurgents are still active in Myanmar and around Mae Sot are a number Karen refugee camps. Sometimes it seems like the main industries are illegal logging and drug smuggling. Many ethnic minorities live in the region. Lawlessness prevails. Some places are regarded as very dangerous. See the Lonely Planet Guide to Thailand for details.

Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary (accessible from Tak) is a UNESCO World Heritage site with links with to 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. Namtok Thi Lo Su is located in the Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary, 3 kilometers from the headquarters. The Umphang forest Wildlife Preservation Office, Amphoe Umphang , Tak province closes the road from the Huai Nong Luang forest Protection Unit to Thi Lo Su Waterfall, a distance of 25 kilometers, from June to November during the monsoon season. Travel in the area during this period is very difficult. Hours Open: Open everyday from 8:30am -5:00pm. Admission: 20 Baht per person, 30 Baht per car. Getting There: By car: From Amphoe Umphang, follow the Umphang – Mae Sot route and take a left turn at kilometers 161 (Ban Mae Klong Mai) to De Lo Pass or the “Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary” at the checkpoint at km. 30. Visitors should use a high- performance pick-up truck or a four-wheel drive car for the trip. During the rainy season, it is impossible for a car to access the sanctuary. To visit the waterfall, visitors are required to use a rubber dinghy and walk to the headquarters before going further for around 3 kilometers on foot to the waterfall. Website: Official Thailand National Park website, Use Google translate /park.dnp.go.th

Taksin Maharat National 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. Hours Open: Open everyday from 6.00am - 6:00pm. Contact: Taksin Maharat National Park Taksin Maharat National Park. Tambon Mae Tho, Tambon Phra Wo, Amphoe Mueang, Tak, Tel. 0 5551 1429, 2562 0760. Accommodation: Accommodations available include bungalows and campsites; call the Park Office at 0-5551-1429 or email: reserve@dnp.go.th for more details. Admission: 200 for adults and 100 for children. Getting There: 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. Website: Official Thailand National Park website, Use Google translate /park.dnp.go.th

Namtok Mae Kasa (Mae Ka Sa village) is a small waterfall that can be reached 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.

Mu Ban No Lae is on the Thai-Burmese border. The people of No Lae migrated from Myanmar in the later 1990s and early 2000s. They speak their own language and are Buddhists. On every Buddhist day, they stay home to practice the Buddhist precepts. No Lae village offers a magnificent view of natural scenery of the Thai-Burmese border. Mu Ban Khop Dong is home to Musoes. The tribe believe in ghosts and spirits and still hold on to simple ways of life. The Royal Project has supported this village in promoting agriculture and handicrafts. The Young Local Guide project is underway to guide visitors on the local lifestyle and beliefs, as well as to create a non-migration awareness in local youths. Mu Ban Luang comprises of Yunnan Chinese who migrated here during World War II. They earn a living from agriculture.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: Tourist Authority of Thailand, Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books and other publications.

Last updated August 2020

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