A Special Journey - Tilosu Waterfall

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by ianyonok, Oct 17, 2014.

  1. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    I had wanted to visit the largest waterfall in the country, near the end of rainy season, for some years and now the time was right. Not an easy place to visit I'd heard. This was a special journey for me.

    Headed to Chiang Dao and dropped into Malee's Nature Lovers Bungalows. Kurt and Malee were away but I checked the Doi Chiang Dao contour map at their place.

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    I took the small road around the north side of the doi.

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    This is the head of the hiking trail at about 1100m. It's a 6.5 klm hike to the 2200m summit. I hope to do that hike one day.....

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    This mountain has a magical shape, like some kind of fantastic natural castle.

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    The countryside was beautiful but the weather was a little hazy as it hadn't rained for quite a few days, so the "burners" must have been active somewhere. I hoped I wasn't too late to make this trip, as I wanted recent rain where I was going.

    The road becomes dirt and a water crossing

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    and another one

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    and another...

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    and another

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    this is fun...

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    The road comes out SE of Pai. I then headed down to Watchan. Still hazy.

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    This hot spring next to the road, has almost no smell of sulphur.

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    I stayed at Pet & Pele's place just before the village of Watchan.

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    They had lived in Pattaya for many years, as I had. Pete was still the vice-president of the Jesters MC in Pattaya, so we knew many of the same people there. The Jesters have raised 10's of millions of Baht for children's charities over the years. They usually have Jimmy Page visit their Care4Kids event each year.

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    The bungalows are simple, cheap & cheerful and Pele will cook for you.

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    The place to stay in Watchan with good people who are bikers.

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    Next day, continue on dirt roads to Khun Yuam

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    It certainly helps if you read a bit of Thai, if the signs are leigible....

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    Often a smiling/bemused face around to offer directions

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    I was wonderfully alone

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    I came out at a secondary destination. This is Mae Surin waterfall, NE of Khun Yuam. One of the tallest single fall waterfalls in the country at about 100m high. The photo does not do it justice. This is a beautiful fall, but not easy to get any closer than the other side of the gorge, unless staying in the National Park and hiking down near the bottom of the fall.

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    After Khun Yuam I continued on tarmac, down through Mae Sariang and on to the wonderful 105. Some nice remote sections on that road. It was a bit late to get all the way to Mae Sot, so I stayed in Tha Song Yang.

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    Pretty good place to stay

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    There is only one road into Umpang, the 1090 from Mae Sot. It's a cracker of road, lots of parts like this.

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    and very picturesque

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    With Burma to the west and mountains to the south and east, Umpang is not busy...

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    Refugee camps

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    Hopefully we'll get some rain....

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    This was a big fella

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    Down into the Umpang valley

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    I rode straight to the waterfall. It had taken me 3 days to get here.
    No-one appeared to be manning the National Park entrance, so I rode straight in.
    It had rained earlier and there were some deep puddles of mud. I managed to get about 200m down this dirt road, when I hear shouting behind me....
    "what me?..." The parkie is riding a Honda wave towards me and shouting. As he rides through the puddles, the mud is flowing right over his front mudguard and legs, up to his waist. I try not to snigger... He won't let me continue.
    Entry to Tilosu waterfall is only by 4WD, no dirt bikes or ordinary cars. Pleading and bribery do no good, so I have to turn around and find a place to stay for the night and arrange a vehicle for the next day.

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    Lots of choice of resorts in town. I stayed in Baan Farang, because it was near to the road to the waterfall. The farang wasn't at home.

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    Nice enough place and the guy there was helpful in arranging the 4WD for the next day.
    If I went again though, I would probably stay in the Riverside Resort next door.

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    Some good restaurants in town too.

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    Leo on draught and a surprising menu considering where I was.

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    New Zealand mussels will do the trick. Very nice too, with cheese and garlic.

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    All the resorts in the town charge the same, 2500 Baht for a trip to the falls, per vehicle, farang or Thai, however many people. Only way to avoid this, is to arrive in your own 4WD.

    My driver for the morning and suitable vehicle. The "dragon lady" was on the ticket desk at the entrance, so I had to pay farang rate.. 200 Baht.

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    There had been some sections of tarmac in the past

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    24 klms along this road. Would have been fun on the dirt bike... but a little slippery.

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    We soon arrived at the parking area. It was then a 1.5 klm walk through the beautiful jungle, with many massive, tall, dipterocarp trees, to the waterfall. Anticipation was immense.....

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    Nearly there.....

    Umpang is a long way down a dead-end road. Then to get to the waterfall, you have to pay a lot for a 4WD, to go down a serious dirt road and a good walk at the end.
    This means it is not easy to visit, you really have to want to go there.

    Is it worth it...? For me, Absolutely.

    I was very lucky, it had rained overnight and I had visited at the right time of year.
    I emerged out of the jungle onto a platform, looking up at the largest waterfall in Thailand.

    It was breathtaking.

    I have been lucky enough to visit some of the world's largest waterfalls, but this one is special.
    You are next to the river at the bottom cataracts, but due to it's size, the main fall is a long way up on the ridge. There are no other buildings around, thankfully, you are only surrounded by beautiful unspoilt green jungle. All this makes it wonderfully remote. Let's hope it stays that way.

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    more to follow on the return journey.
     
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  3. CraigBKK

    CraigBKK Ol'Timer

    Great report. Destinations that take time and effort to reach leave us with the longest memories. Thank you for sharing.
     
  4. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    Ian,

    Nice report and photos. When exactly did you do the trip (month)? Just to confirm, if I show up in my own 4wd there is no restriction making the trip to the falls without a guide or any other hassle?
     
  5. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    Thanks guys.
    Dave,
    I was at the waterfall one week ago, 10th October.
    The Tilosu NP rules are that only 4WD vehicles are allowed in. They don't differentiate between local drivers or drivers from other parts of the country. There is a sign at the entrance with pictures of vehicles etc. with red crosses through; Cars, Motorbikes, Buses, Walkers, Cyclists. They may occasionally close the park if extreme weather.
    The guy at the resort told me that most of the Thai people come in the high season, but many farangs come in the wet season. I believe they used to close the park during rainy season, but of course that is the best time to see it. Now it is open all year. This provides income for the resorts and work for the local drivers. Otherwise Umpang would be completely dead in the rainy season apart from NGOs. I was never asked about a guide, seems it isn't necessary, but like most parks, available on request.
     
  6. Oddvar

    Oddvar Ol'Timer

    Thanks for sharing.
    Now I know that as long as you can outrun a Honda Wave on any "road", you are good to go all the way...
     
  7. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    Thanks Ian.

    That answers my questions. i was reading older travel posts that said the park was only open from November to April. They also warned of huge numbers of tourists during this period. It is good to have some updated information. if i want to go, I guess I should do it soon.
     
  8. 101Pauly

    101Pauly Member

    In like 2002 or 2003 my mother and I went out to Ti Lo Su... we stayed in Umphang, and did this rafting trip and ended up at the waterfall... this was i February, so the falls were not as full and mighty as this time of year, but the rafting trips are probably a cheaper way to get to the falls than hiring the 4-Wheel... amazing area of the country. Most of the raft guides at the time were Burmese exiles from the '88 era and spoke great English. Fantastic looking trip!
     
  9. KenYam

    KenYam Ol'Timer

    Great report Ian, looks like you had fun.
    I went April 2013 with my 4x4, hardly any people, waterfall itself was half the size of Ian's video.
    November would be good time and highly recommend the raft trip instead of driving as the scenery and experience is something special.
    There are many raft companies and yes it's closed 6 months of the year for safety reasons.
     
  10. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    A 'cracker' (to use your term) of a report accompanied by some great shots.The run to Umphang is one of the best outings in Northern Thailand; I've not read other than flattering comments from all who venture that way.
     
  11. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

    My goodness! You are getting ever more adventurous in your old age!
    Enjoyed photos & reports - not a trip I could undertake for sure.
     
  12. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Great report and stunning photos..

    That mud looked like fun... Spoil sports not letting you ride through it :)

    Thanks for sharing.
    Brian
     
  13. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    I was there during Songkhran holiday and looking for that steak-house but couldn't find it. Umphang was ghost town....no tourists, restaurants and even famous coffee shop across the road from Police station was closed. At Thee Lor Su resort we were the only guests...No big crowds at the waterfall though, seen hardly 10-15 people there.
     

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