To find unexplored and largely unknown treasures in Thailand you don’t necessarily have to leave the beaten path. There is lots to see in the cities that you would pass through anyway, like those little border towns in the Mekong region. While most people spend a night there before jumping on a boat to Laos or Myanmar, you could take the opportunity to spend there a little longer and explore the surroundings on a motorbike. These underestimated cities in the Mekong region offer some of Thailand’s best motorbike riding along with a variety of waterfalls, hot springs, temples, hill tribes and beaches.
My friend and I were lucky to meet friendly locals in Chiang Khong who showed us around. After spending a great time here, I’m writing this article hoping that I can inspire you to spend a few days in this beautiful little town. It surely deserves a larger amount of tourism than it gets nowadays.
Major credits for this adventure go to my friend Michael as he is the one who met Arissara and Juntana in a cozy restaurant and started chatting with them about the region. Not much later they pulled up with two motorbikes, one for them and one for us, to show us their most precious and unexplored places.
These hot springs
The hot spring was definitely a hidden treasure as it was a 40 kilometer drive from Chiang Khong into the rice fields. It was located behind a small township. We had to get up early for it but it was worth every hour of missed sleep. We left around 7:00 am just to be there when it was still cold, just to be able to see the hot damp hovering above the hot lake. We were welcomed by a monk who lives next to the hot springs and loved to exchange a few words of English with us farangs. Instead of asking for a donation of charging us an entrance fee he offered us buckets to take a bath. A footbath was fine for us while sitting on the monk’s bamboo pier, but the water would have been perfect for a swim just if we wouldn’t have been too sleepy to bring our swimming gear that morning.
That fresh fish at the waterfall
Once the air warmed up a little and we finally got the courage to pull our feet out of the nice warm hot spring, we continued to the local Learning Centre. There were no kids this time, but Jack, a Thai girl volunteering at the Learning Centre, gave us a tour around and showed us how to play with the hand made spintops. Again there was no money involved as all of us just wanted to exchange knowledge about our cultures.
Within the boundaries of our language barrier we understood that Arissara and Jack proposed to bring us to a waterfall which was easily reachable by motorbike. That sounded fine to us as we already did a fair amount of hiking on the day before, where we visited another waterfall for which we had to walk through the jungle for a good 60 minutes. On the way we made a sudden and unexpected stop along a small creek where Jack jumped off her motorbike into the creek and returned within half a minute with three fresh fish. Her friend Nick, who was also part of our small group, professionally roasted the fish on a small campfire that was set together within minutes.
After a short stop at a local restaurant, where our friends bought some local delicacies to complement the fish, we set course for the waterfall. As with almost all attractions in Chiang Khong there was no entrance fee and there were no other people around and the waterfall was ours for the day.
These farmers with a golden heart
Arissara took us to her farm to explain about the good work she did there. As we understood she farms with and for a group of 10 women with HIV who couldn’t make a living otherwise. They farmed pineapples so of course we got a nice gift to take with us in the basket of the motorbike.
Drinking coffee along the Mekong river
Probably the best way to make a perfect day in Chiang Khong even better is to have a coffee along the Mekong. The little coffee place had the best cappuccino I had in Thailand so far. The place had a great atmosphere, was built completely out of bamboo and had a beautiful view over a rocky part of the Mekong River.
Still, no one goes there
And people should. There are no rusty coke cans. No other signs that any farangs have ever visited this place. We might even have been the first. The sights in Chiang Khong are waiting for you too. The village of Chiang Khong should be more than a one-day-stop-over-to-Laos.
And for finding the way? No worries! The locals will send you more or less into the right direction and navigating will be a piece of cake with Chiang Khongs extremely accurate signposting.
Tell me more!
Did you go to Chiang Khong? What is your favorite unexplored awesome beautiful place?