Thailand’s most remote district, Umphang, is home to pristine jungles, caves, cliffs, wild rivers and waterfalls. The area is still relatively unknown to foreign tourists and makes the perfect venue for those seeking a real ‘off the trail adventure’.
The remoteness and wildness of Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary, especially during the wet season make it arguably the most adventurous and off the trail destination in the whole of Thailand. Typical activities to enjoy in Umphang are trekking, camping, white water rafting, and visiting Thailand’s largest waterfall, Thi Lor Su, located in Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary.
Trekking near to Thi Lor Su waterfall in Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary
Umphang town is very small and the 4 hour journey to get there from Mae Sot gives it a real ‘cut off from the world’ feel. The buildings are traditional style and mainly made from wood with a few more modern buildings such as the towns bank. The town has a very sleepy, rural feel to it and can be covered on foot in 30 minutes. The immediate area surrounding the town is mostly open farmland but as you head further out the paddy fields turn into thick jungle with raging rivers and waterfalls. Umphang town is quiet all year round apart from a brief busy spell in November and December when it is popular with Thai tourists who come to visit Thi Lor Su waterfall.
Thi Lor Su, Thailand’s largest waterfall
How to get to Umphang
The only way to get to Umphang is by the 1090 highway running between Mae Sot and Umphang, so the first step is getting to Mae Sot.
Upon arrival in Mae Sot you take the 1090 road which has quite a reputation due to the 1,219 curves as it twists through the mountainous terrain. The total distance from Mae Sot to Umphang is 164km, the journey usually takes 3-4 hours travelling at a steady pace. You will most likely stop along the way to admire the scenery, there is also a large refugee camp on the left side of the road as you get closer towards Umphang.
Songthaew taxi from Mae Sot to Umphang
Songthaew taxis depart from Mae Sot bus station everyday from 6am to 1pm. A songthaew is a Thai style taxi in the form of a pick up truck with 2 rows of seats in the back, covered by a roof. The songthaew service is an important link for the local people as it is the only way to get in-between Mae Sot and Umphang. The service costs 150 Baht each way and runs on a ‘go on demand’ basis, so it leaves when there are enough passengers to make the journey worthwhile. Travelling to Umphang by songthaew may be uncomfortable for some people but it’s a chance to take in some culture. It’s definitely an experience you are unlikely to forget.
Photo Guide – Umphang
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