White Water Rafting

For many tourists, the Mae Taeng River in northern Thailand, with its source high up in the hills close to the Burmese border, is synonymous with White-Water rafting. With its 2-5 grade rapids (novice to expert), the Mae Taeng River is one of the most popular whitewater rafting rivers in Thailand. Although you can try it all year around, the rainy season runs from July to October, and whitewater rafting is best undertaken during the months of July through March. To tackle the rapids which rise to grade 5 in high season, you should be somewhat experienced and reasonably fit, as Grade 5 rapids include steep drops, or holes, and can continue for long distances. There some long established reputable tour companies that can provide you with a safe and enjoyable experience. Check that your level of experience (if any) and fitness matches the grades of rapids the tour advertises (grade 1 is 'easy'). A typical day's white water rafting will include an 8:30am - 9:00am pick-up from your guesthouse and a drive through the Mae Taeng river valley to your set-off point - base camp. On the way, you will pass through scenic mountain landscapes and picturesque villages nestled in the forested slopes. Expect at least one stop off en route - probably a tourist attraction, such as an orchid farm. At the campsite, you will be given a lunch followed by detailed instructions in English on river safety, paddling techniques, and so on from your river guides. After this, you don your life jackets and helmets and commence your adventure downstream. The distance down the Mae Taeng River is 10km and your trip will take about 2 ½ hours. The first stage is 4km, has six islets, and the levels are grades 2-3 which make it perfectly safe and enjoyable for beginners. During this time you can get used to controlling yourself on the rolling boat and learn how to ride the fiercer rapids up ahead. The second stage, about 2km, has 7-8 islets and rapids of levels 4-5 (in the rainy season) and is the most challenging and demanding. Here, teamwork is necessary. The final stage is 4km, has 6+ islets, and the rapids drop to levels 3-4. On your way down the river, try to take in scenery - the mountainous rainforests, Hill Tribe villages, gorges and canyons with numerous waterfalls. You will also see a host of wildlife such as gibbons, snakes, kingfishers, sandpipers, hornbills, storks, lianas and many colourful butterflies. When you reach your downstream destination, you can have some refreshments before being driven back through the scenic river valley and dropped off at your guesthouse, usually between 5:00pm and 6:00pm. Note that rafting is not permitted if you are pregnant, suffering from heart disease, or for children less than 7 years of age, although many tour companies will not take any child under 12. Always wear light, easy to dry clothes, and bring some spare clothing. Jeans are not recommended. The easiest and most convenient way to book a rafting package, including all transfer services, is from your guesthouse or hotel in Chiang Mai. Several companies offer whitewater rafting. Here's two that have received excellent feedback. Siam Rivers Adventures Rates: Approx 1,800B Tel: +66 895151917, +66 814736839 Email: info@siamrivers.com Address: 17 Ratchawitee Road Prasing, A. Muang Website: www.siamrivers.com The Peak Adventure Tour Rates: Approx 1,800B Tel: +66 53800567 Email: info@thepeakadventure.com Address: 302/4 Chiangmai - Lamphun Rd, T.Watgate A.Muang. Website: www.thepeakadventure.com If you are an experienced rafter and have your own or a borrowed/rented craft, you must contact a National Park official for permission before embarking on the river. So if you want more general information or are planning to go it alone, a good place to start would be to contact: TAT Northern Office: Region 1 Tel: +66 53248604

Map of North West Thailand

North West Thailand-Map

Chiang Mai