Pha Dai - Wiang Kaen - The Mekong End Of The Road

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by DavidFL, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    #1 DavidFL, Jun 14, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
    Kaeng Pha Dai
    GTR - IMG_5124.JPG

    42 kms downstream from Chiang Khong, there is a wild rocky section of the Mekong where it flows away from Thailand & into Laos, and is no longer the border due to a quirk in the border negotiations with the French once upon a time.

    GTR - IMG_5157B.JPG

    After Pha Dai the river is no longer the border between Thailand and Laos until way downstream where the Nam Heung river runs into the Mekong at Ban Tha Ma Di, between Na Kra Seng and Chiang Khan.

    This section of the Mekong at Pha Dai is famous for the rocks & rapids in the river. It was also a very food fishing ground for the Mekong fishermen. It is a stunning section of the Khong, & a bit tucked out of the way, but is well worth a visit.

    The Mekong River is the second river in the world for its fish diversity, after the Amazon. It was ranked third in 2000 (Dudgeon 2000) but its species list has been substantially updated since then. The Mekong region is thus a biodiversity hotspot, whose magnitude is only being discovered: in the last decade more than 279 new species of fish have been discovered in this basin (WWF 2009). When all animals and plants are considered, it is more than a thousand new species that have been discovered in the basin within a decade.

    I've been out there several times over the years & the place is always picturesque. There are some reports of visits on GTR, but damned if I can find them all. However here are a few pics from over the years.

    2004 in the dry season
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    A trip with Dave Silverhawk Early: Fang - Chiang Khong Loop
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    The end of the road in 2004
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    Up the steps somewhere there is a border boundary post, That Ian Yonok has checked out, but I can't find the post at the moment.
    This area was once a major smuggling zone, plus a path for communist insurgents once upon a time.

    2015
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    With Destination Thailand TV, Ian & the DTTV guys
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    2018
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    and the river is up. How the boatmen navigate on this river always amazes me.
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    The area has been cleaned up a bit for tourism promotion.
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    The end of the road & some nice new asphalt
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    GTR - IMG_5117.JPG


    Some GTR Reports that mention Pha Dai

    Fang - Chiang Khong Loop

    On the road with Destination Thailand TV part 8

    There are more but can't find them at the moment. Ian & Ron Webb please help with links if you can.

    Of note too is that have held Valentine's Day Festivals there
    Valentine’s Day Festival to Be held at Pha Dai Rapids | Bangkok Informer
    date unknown?
     
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  2. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    A google earth view of Kaeng Pha Dai

    GPS-Map000.
     
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    #4 DavidFL, Aug 26, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
    A super bonus, en route to Pha Dai from Wian Kaen city is a magic little coffee shop out in the rice paddies.

    Caffa Roasting House is the place
    GTR - IMG_6959.JPG

    The turn of is 2.6 kms north of Wiang Kaen, on the left hand side heading North.
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    you bump your way down the track a couple of hundred metres and there she is
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    a gem of a place in the middle of seemingly nowhere.
    The aircon is cool & it's clean, with a strong aroma of fresh coffee!
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    literally buckets of it.

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    in an adjoining "staff only" room is the packing room. Ask nicely & you can go in for a whiff 'n photo.

    Caffa has been in business & marketing coffee for 3 years, but the coffee shop is new and only 3 months old.
    They also have numerous teas
    GTR - IMG_6945.JPG GTR - IMG_6944.JPG

    plus coffee of course.

    A highlight of Caffa is the rooftop patio and a glorious view over the village rice fields.
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    Highly recommended.
    Their Facebook page

    Google Maps
    Google Maps

    Check em out sometime. You won't be disappointed.
     
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  5. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

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    That looks a nice quiet spot. I thought it might be next to the river?....... Guess not.
     
  6. DavidFL

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    #6 DavidFL, Aug 26, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
    5.5 kms north of Caffa Roasting Coffee is the village of Huay Luk . Huay Luek is on the Mekong & where you turn right to meander down along the river to Pha Dai. If you navigate through the maze of sois into Huay Luek & make a left "somewhere" you will find an interesting wat.
    Wat Huay Luek.
    GTR - IMG_5143.JPG

    It probably looks just like a regular temple & so it maybe
    GTR - IMG_5145.JPG

    GTR - IMG_5147.JPG

    however in a sala on the side behind some shrines was a very old log boat, that intrigued me greatly.
    GTR - IMG_5149.JPG

    Just another log boat perhaps, but the fact it was basically locked up, under cover &
    GTR - IMG_5150.JPG
    not likely to be used

    GTR - IMG_5153.JPG
    meant to me that it must have some old history & significance to the village = I wonder what the story is?

    Also adjoining the boat an old drum with offerings.
    GTR - IMG_5155.JPG

    plus a "Buddha Footprint"
    GTR - IMG_5138B.JPG

    They must have some fascinating festivals & ceremonies that revolve around the old boat & drum. Another trip or two is called for to solve the mystery (if there actually is one.)

    The google maps location
    Google Maps
     
  7. Lakota

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    #7 Lakota, Aug 27, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
    I understand the Boat was found locally in the Mekhong. The people of Huey Leuk are predominantly Laos in origin down by the River with a small Hmong population as you enter the Village by the School. I don't know if this is due to a Border demarcation at some stage or resettlement but it would be interesting to find out. The village is closer to the Laos border than Wiang Kean. If you go down by the river and down the slipway you can have a knoodle on one of the floating pontoons that serve the Laos Speedboats. It appears the speedboats get there Gas here , Must be cheaper than Huey Xai. The Village does have a Boat race at some time of the year and the 'OK Phansa' Bhuddist ceromony in October is worth seeing with it's candle lit procession on the River. Don't forget the Som O (pomello) Festival , starts tomorrow 28th August in Wiang Kaen
     
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  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Some more Pha Dai magic

     
  9. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Should the Chinese get their way and blow up the reefs & rocks in the Mekong at Pha Dai
    lancangmekong-development-plan-environmental-study-findings-and-conclusions-17-1024.

    A good enough reason to go and visit Pha Dai.
     
  10. DavidFL

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    Another meander back to glorious Kaeng Pha Dai & what a fabulous spot it really is.
    Unique with stunning views & scenery as usual.

    GTR - IMG_0156.JPG

    GTR - IMG_0154.JPG
    There is however some variations on the name of the place in English.

    Highlight of today's run was a visit to the "new" hill top wat that over looks Huay Luek & the Mekong.
    GTR - IMG_0165.JPG

    GTR - IMG_0164.JPG

    GTR - IMG_0160.JPG

    You get magnificent panoramic views of the Mekong
    GTR - IMG_0157.JPG

    One of the beauties of the wat is the fabulous old monk / abbot @ 72 years of age.
    9257B. 9259B.

    who just happened to be gardening when GTR hit the wat.
    Location: Google Maps
     
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  11. DavidFL

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    21 November & the tide is way out
    upload_2019-12-1_1-27-25.

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    One of the highlights of Kaeng Pha Dai used to be the rickety old restaurant overlooking the Khong.
    gtr-img_5111-.

    upload_2019-12-1_1-16-42.

    An absolute classic it was with amazing food. Some Tom Yam & fried shrimps are sensational, as is the larb & other fish dishes.
    So it was with some disappointment on my last visit I noticed the restaurant gone.
    upload_2019-12-1_1-22-16.

    however after a slight stroll upstream I noticed some construction going on & a new location for that magnificent old restaurant
    upload_2019-12-1_1-23-34.

    a much more solid premises, but damn I still miss that old beauty.
    upload_2019-12-1_1-24-5.

    and the food is still amazing.
    upload_2019-12-1_1-24-29.

    upload_2019-12-1_1-24-39.

    Don't miss it if you go to Kaeng Pha Dai!
    And if you are there early & if it seems like the restaurant is not open, look out for the security guy, ranger there. It is his wife who runs the restaurant & he will ring her to come open up for you.

    The Caffa Coffee House has the flowers blooming
    upload_2019-12-1_1-32-19.

    upload_2019-12-1_1-32-54.
     
  12. DavidFL

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    Fantastic news, the Thai cabinet has canceled the contract for the rock blasting project for the Chiang Saen - Chiang Khong - Kaeng Pha Dai section of the Mekong.

    Thais spike China-led plan to dredge Mekong river

    Bangkok (AFP) - Thailand has spiked Chinese-led plans to open up a key stretch of the Mekong river, in a rare victory for activists fighting to preserve Southeast Asia's most important waterway.

    Beijing has long wanted to blast 97 kilometres (60 miles) of rocks and dredge the riverbed in northern Thailand to open up a passage for massive cargo ships.

    The vision is to create a river trade link from China's Yunnan province thousands of kilometres south through the Mekong countries -- Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

    But environmentalists warn the river -- the world's most biodiverse after the Amazon -- would be ruined by dredging, while Thailand's sovereignty and security could also be compromised.

    The Thai cabinet announced Tuesday it had decided "to stop the project" after Beijing failed to stump up the money for further surveys of the area to be dredged.

    "This is a bold decision made by a downstream country," said Pianporn Deetes of advocacy group International Rivers, which has backed a near 20-year grassroots campaign to preserve the key stretch of water.

    "This small part of the Mekong river will also save the lower part of the basin from destruction, despite large pressures from a regional actor."

    The river, known as the Lancang in Chinese, emerges into the South China Sea, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes and a centrepiece in Beijing's Belt and Road strategy on infrastructure and trade.

    Beijing rarely gives up on long-term projects in the Mekong area, often revising financing or planning for controversial dams, ports and mines in a region it considers its backyard.

    China insists it seeks only the sustainable development of the river through hydropower dams and trade.

    But the river is already changing, with complaints of fish stocks decreasing in Thailand and Cambodia and nutrient-rich land in the Vietnamese delta sinking as sediment flow is disturbed by dams lacing the upstream.

    Experts also say mega-dams in China and Laos, which has dozens of hydropower projects, are compounding seasonal drought in Thailand.​
     
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  13. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

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    That is good news, thanks for the update.
     
  14. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    #14 DavidFL, Oct 7, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2020
    Update 27 September 2020

    Sadly, the Kaeng Pha Dai beach has been landscaped & modernised. IMHO losing a lot of its natural charm in the process.
    upload_2020-10-7_21-5-51.

    upload_2020-10-7_21-6-9.

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    However that fabulous restaurant is still there, in the new location.'
    upload_2020-10-7_21-7-13.

    and if you do go, don't miss the crispy fried shrimps. A sensational dish there.
    upload_2020-10-7_21-9-33.
     
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  15. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

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    Yes, shame about the beach. Looks like anti-erosion works.
     
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