Tak Travel Guide
Introduction to Tak
A dusty provincial town often visited by foreigners only as part of bus routes heading to either BKK, Chiang Mai, or Mae Sot, Tak gets overlooked as a destination. For those looking for amazing waterfalls, deserted temples, and a full-on Thai immersion experience, it is an amazing place to stay for at least a few days.
Cultural Attractions in Tak
The town of Tak itself doesn’t have much to offer in the way of attractions, though, spending time in a place where the locals don’t get to see much in the ways of foreigners can lead to some endearing encounters. One place to which you’ll want to organize a day trip is Wat Phra Boromthat and the ruins of Ancient Tak.
Situated 25 kilometres north of modern-day Tak, this complex is home to several sets of ruins, including a spectacular hilltop pagoda built to honour the victory of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great over King Khun Sam Chon of Mae Sot on the battlefield.
With elegant doors and decorative doors/windows, the temple itself is worth checking out as well, so be sure to give yourself enough time before moving elsewhere in Tak province.
The Shrine of King Taksin the Great should be your next stop. Erected to honour the memory of one of Northern Thailand’s greatest monarchs, this shrine allows locals and visitors to pay their respects to a man who helped drive out the Burmese from the lands of the Ayutthaya kingdom.
As with any site dealing with the Thai monarchy, show proper manners when visiting – cover up. Basically, don’t wear anything here that you would wear to the beach, and make sure your shoulders, torso, and knees are covered.
Once you have finished seeing everything worth checking out in Tak, make for Mae Sot. Sitting on the Thai-Burma border, this town is a popular visa run destination for long-term visitors to Thailand, but there are also a number of attractions worth checking out while in town.
Start by stopping by Wat Chumphon Khiri. Unsurprising given its location, this temple’s design is heavily influenced by Burmese architectural philosophy, something which can be easily seen in the gilded chedi located on its grounds.
During your visit, also make an effort to check out its 200-year-old drum, as well as a Buddha image built in the Maravichai style.
While the border markets at Mae Sot thrive with activity due to imports brought deep from the heart of Burma, the indigenous peoples living in the hills outside town have an outlet of their own to sell goods they produce.
See what is on offer by perusing the stalls of the Mae Sot Hilltribe Market. It must be noted that visiting for practical purposes will only be useful for those currently living in Thailand, as much of the goods are fruits and vegetables.
Still, there are a few handicraft stalls, and passing through and observing the function of the market is a good way to get insight on how hilltribe people make their living.
Other Attractions in Tak
If you have come to Tak rather than passing through on your way to Chiang Mai, there is a good chance you have the Thi Lo Su Waterfall on your list of things to see. Boasting a vertical drop of over 250 metres (820 feet) and with a max width of 450 metres (1,480 feet) at the top, this multi-tiered feature is nothing short of heavenly on a bright sunny day.
Why has a place like this not gotten popular, despite its awesome appearance? Its location smack in the middle of Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary has a lot to do with it. With access only possible via hours of 4WD driving and rafting down a river, let’s just say it drives away travellers accustomed to comfort and convenience.
Still putting in the effort will be worth it during the dry season, as the gorges created by this feature are perfect for swimming in the wild, far from the corrupting influences of civilization.
Haven’t got your fill of waterfalls? You’ll find plenty more within the bounds of Lan Sang National Park. Here, you’ll find more than a half dozen cataracts perfect for cooling off in a jungle environment. It is also a great place to go camping, so try to source some gear before leaving Bangkok or Chiang Mai.
Of the recent kings of Thailand, King Bhumibol is the most beloved, as he helped bring the nation of Siam into the modern age through his guidance and example. Bhumibol Dam (originally named the Yanhee Dam) utilized the waters of the Ping River to generate mass amounts of badly-needed electricity for the country, as well as supplying irrigation water for farmers in the lowlands of Central Thailand.
It is also possible to take a cruise on the head pond, and with several golf courses nearby, duffers will have additional options as well.
Like the other provinces of Northern Thailand, Tak can get rather cool during the dry season. There is no better place to be on a chilly morning than the Hot Springs of Maekasa. Located at the base of mountains on the way to Mae Sot, it is a park in a state of flux.
At the time of writing, there are in the process of repairing the main pool, but there are still places where you can soak your feet in piping hot water with the locals. For fun, you can also join them in boiling eggs in the pools too hot for bathing.