Thaton, Unknown North Thailand, Mae Ai District

Unknown North Thailand.  Thaton is a mellow and relatively unknown town near the Burmese border. 

Thaton Unknown North ThailandView over Thaton 

There is a sleepy river town on the Burmese border, 3 hours from Chiang Mai that goes by the name of Thaton in an unknown part of North Thailand.  
We have driven through this town a couple of times before on our way to the Chinese village of Mae Salong further north, yet we have never stopped.

The town seemed to offer little of interest as we passed by in the car, crossing the flag adorned bridge over the Kok river on the way out appeared to be the only highlight to our glimpsing eyes.

Thaton Unknown North ThailandThaton Bridge 

This all changed when we decided to spend some time in Thaton while on a trip away from home for Jmayel’s birthday. 

Thaton Unknown North ThailandJmayel in Thaton the day after his birthday

We were invited to stay at Sappaya Guesthouse, a homely and attractive 7 bedroomed house right on the river, we gratefully took up the offer and eagerly set about exploring the area we had previously neglected.

Thaton Unknown North ThailandThaton & the Kok River

Yes the town is indeed sleepy, there are a handful of cafes and shops, a few hotels and the obligatory 24hr 7-11, most things are shut up by 9pm and there are no loud bars or outstanding nightlife to speak of.  If you seek out entertainment and action Thaton probably shouldn’t be on your list, but if you fancy some down time or want to indulge in some pure relaxation, this quiet and lethargic, unassuming town could be right where you need to be.   

Almost every night we had dinner at Pattra Cafe, serving a simple menu yet very tasty thai dishes in big portions.  As well as Thai food there are also pizzas and waffles on offer accompanied by fruit smoothies and coffee. 

Thaton Unknown North Thailand Thaton Unknown North Thailand
J & Eden at Pattra Cafe 

We were staying directly opposite the boat station where you can take a river boat all the way to Chiang Rai on a 4 hour journey, this it turns out is the main draw for visitors coming or going from the town. 

Thaton Unknown North ThailandView of the boat station from our guesthouse

I was surprised how many foreigners we saw as we wandered about.  We noticed the same faces each day hinting that this is a place people hole up in for a few days before moving on from the town.   

Thaton Unknown North ThailandMe enjoying the view on the way up to the temple

As well as the draw of the boats and river life, Thaton has a large temple on the mountain, accessed by passing through 9 tiers, each with a different point of interest.  An hours walk up to the top level rewards you with a gorgeous panoramic view over the villages below and their surrounding beauty.     

Thaton Unknown North ThailandThaton Temple 

We were told by the guesthouse owner, Nang, of some nearby farmlands and letting us use her two bicycles we set off to the farms, following her instructions.

We spent ages cycling around the seemingly never ending paths in the countryside, surrounded by wonderful views and nature we were in our element capturing it all on film and in photographs.  

Thaton Unknown North ThailandLush farmlands & stormy skies 

It just goes to show that there is more to meet the eye in most locations and once you take yourself off the main roads and really get to know a place, a whole new world can open up to you. 

Thaton Unknown North ThailandPretty lake in the farms 

After only intending to stay the night in Thaton we ended up staying for four and even then we could have stayed longer and only left as we had to return to Chiang Mai for other responsibilities.   

Thaton Unknown North ThailandPanorama over Thaton from the temple 

If you enjoy taking your travels slowly a visit to Thaton is an ideal place to take it easy, catch up on work, or just relax and recoup.  

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Sacha El-Haj

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