Teelorsu Waterfall - Umphang

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by ronwebb, Dec 4, 2011.

  1. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    We met up with the Kiwi Cruiser at Mae Hong Son for the annual TJ Hamilton & Simon Siinthai Grant Memorial ride and cruised down to Mae Sariang for the night.
    The idea for this little trip was to visit the Teelorsu waterfall, apparently the largest in Thailand and the sixth largest in Asia.
    The next day off to Umphang down the R105 to Mae Sot and what a joy that road is. A bit of road works along the way but when its finished, the fast Eddies on sports bikes will have a blast along this road and there was little other traffic, so we had the road pretty much to ourselves.


    Needless to say that it was pretty dusty during the unsealed sections but unbeknown to us, worse to come

    The refuge camps before Mae Sot are huge, they just go on forever along the side of the road and back into the hills. Rod Page has posted much about this in his 'Death Highway' trip report, so I will leave that side of things alone as I couldn't report on this any better.
    At Mae Sot you head off down the R1090, the famed Death Highway. This road is spectacular through the plains and over the hills but is in a frightful state of disrepair in places, usually on the steep bits and corners, as usual. Its brilliant in others

    You can get a glimpse of the road we came down before rising up the other side in the following picture





    And it sure gets dusty over the rough sections where visibility through the dust from passing trucks gets down to a few feet at times. A dust covered Kiwi Cruiser...

    Umphang is a sleepy kind of town with not a hell of a lot to do. We stuck with one restaurant, for example, as we couldn't find any other worth considering.
    A few pix from early morning the next day in Umphung..


    We stayed at the Garden Huts but I am sure there are better places although we didn't investigate

    Getting to the waterfall involves a trip down the river in an inflatable raft, riding a Sawng Tao along a beaten track and one and a half km walk along a carefully arranged concrete path.
    I didn't give much thought to the river trip bit but was delightfully surprised by the whole experience. It was to say the least, varied and spectacular with waterfalls, small rapids and tall cliffs along the route. These pictures don't do the scenery justice really...





    We stopped off at the hot springs for welcome coffee and snacks. No 711 here..

    and of course the springs


    back on the raft and some small rapids to liven things up

    and this cool kid who has found a relaxing place to chill out

    Then its up the dusty track to the falls

    then the 1.5km walk through the most amazing jungle. Looked like something out of Lord of the Rings in places




    and then all of a sudden you pop out into the open and get an eye full of the Teelorsu falls



    The following day its off home. For us to CNX a 530 km run back through Mae Sot then on to Tak, Thoen and up the 106 through Li, another really fun road to ride. For the Kiwi Cruiser its retrace the route home. Leaving Umphang early..

    We stopped a lot along the way as is our want but this temple, Wat Phra Tat Ha Duang at Li really caught our eye. Its huge, gold everywhere and its even not completed yet



    The ride to Umphang is a real treat with so much variation in the roads and almost something for everyone.
    If you decide to do the waterfall tour there, make sure that the Sawng Tao is not over about fifty years old with no suspension and a driver who is blind in one eye and cant see out of the other, which is about what we had. The ride back the our lodgings was 25km of pure murder!
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  3. JB2112

    JB2112 Ol'Timer

    I think this may have moved up to #1 of things to do.
    Great post Ron. Those falls look magnificent.
  4. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    A most enjoyable read concerning a run that seems to stoke the emotions of all those who take it.
  5. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

    Great photos! I like the look of the waterfall but sadly the 1.5 kms walk is well out of my range now. Glad you all enjoyed it.
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Looks like I missed a fantastic trip.
    The ride down from Mae Sarieng - Umphang must have been a big day & Im sure you enjoyed the relaxing raft trip. You've got one over me there too as I have still not been to the waterfall!

    I dont think you got to the temple I was talking about: Wat Huai Tom / Phra Maha Chedi Si Wiang Chai. The turn off was 5 kms south of Li.
    For some info & Photos see


    This is a really spectacular temple & well worth visiting.
  7. Kiwi Cruiser

    Kiwi Cruiser Ben Kemp Staff Member

    Its been a couple of years since I was down R105 to Mae Sot, and overall, its improved significantly since then! There's an ugly 10 km section heading south after the Mae Ngao National Park entrance - the uphill sections and corners are badly potholed. Once you get up higher, and the road levels off a bit, its ok. there are 2 long sections of well-advanced roadworks that are prepped and almost ready for asphalt.

    Further through towards Tha Song Yang there is a long, wide, downhill-flowing section of road that descends down into the Moei valley and its truly superb. Its even better coming up it on the way back north! We were having too much fun blasting back up that at full noise to stop for photos... Last time I was down, that section was still under construction.

    The raft trip, first down the Umpang River, then onto the Mae Klong River, is a real gem of a trip. Departure point was right beside the Garden Huts Guesthouse, our guides arriving at 8am ready to go...


    It was a rare case of underpromising and over-delivering! None of us were expecting anything spectacular, but it was almost 3 hours of delighful float through gorgeous forests and gorges, with multiple small waterfalls cascading off the cliffs.


    A short break at the Hot Springs where Ron got a couple of coffees in bamboo cups, and the girls purchased boiled eggs and sticky rice and banana barbecued in banana leaf... You need to look carefuly at the eggs before purchase - a cracked one had some wriggly extra's!


    The Hot Spring is small, and quite bereft of the usual sulphur odours. The cascading waterfalls with rainbows were really stunning!


    The raft trip terminates a few kilometres down the dirt track the winds 25kms from R1090 to the Thee Lor Sue waterfall.

    Our songthiew (pick-up taxi) left much to be desired, and the driver was a mean-spirited and sadistic SOB who seemed to derive some perverse pleasure in bouncing us around in the back... An old Toyota Hilux 2WD, its shock absorbers had long since assumed "decorative adornment" status. On the way home, it was noticeable that at any time the driver clipped a yellow 'cat's eye' centre-line marker with a tyre, you could clearly feel the bang!


    Still, the memories of the raft trip and the great waterfall, plus multiple beers, soon erased the petty-minded songthiew driver's poor customer service attitude and insensitive driving.


    The waterfalls was awesome, no doubt about that. In Wet Season, I imagine it would be a frightening sight! There was a hint of the recent floods evident in the debris 5 metres up in the trees along the river on the raft trip!


    The restaurant across the river from the Garden Huts was really excellent, despite there being no other options obviously available. The chef's heavy hand put the girls in a world of hurt with the spicy dishes... Khun Kop ended up in the Lous position, to all intent and purpose rendered speechless! "Mau pik" was muttered repeatedly by both ladies (drunk on chilli) - those Karen chillis are extremely hot.

    As for the Garden Huts - the 73 yr old proprietor is a lovely old lady, and runs the place single-handedly.

    Its clean enough, and not overly expensive - and if you like a hard bed, this is the place for you! Looking around a bit for alternatives would be a wise move if you like a softer mattress.... :)
  8. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Wonderful report Ben , complimented with some great photos.
    As you know I too stayed at the Garden Huts (& from memory Moto-Rex before me); actually in the same complex where you & Ron were housed. The proprietor is a charming lady; part of the reason she is supported by many who stay. I also ate in & enjoyed the restaurant opposite but across the river from the Huts - it was wholesome, 'just like home' cooking & a pleasant place to relax. I mention these points as, having read both your & Ron's posts I'm somewhat surprised that there is still little choice down there in terms of accommodation & restaurants. I actually hunted about the place looking for alternatives when I was there but there was little & several potential options had closed.........maybe you found the best presently on offer.
  9. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Found some old photos of Wat Huai Tom




    check it out on any trips coming back from Tak / Mae Sot.

    More info

  10. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

    Ron & Ben props on this year's Umphang/TiLoSu trip report.
    It's a pity that the food and accommodation is so poor when you get there.
    The Garden Huts are still probably the best that are on offer.

    BTW what time did you get to the falls?
    In my experience if you do not arrive at the viewing point before 11am,
    you are fighting the sun with lens flare.
  11. Kiwi Cruiser

    Kiwi Cruiser Ben Kemp Staff Member

    Hi Rhodie - you are so right, the sun is indeed a problem if you are a little late to the falls! A vexed one, as the raft trip is a "Must Do" option in my opinion - its really quite stunning in early December... That double-rainbow effect on the mid-gorge waterfalls is only evident in the early morning, the prerequisite being that the sun is shining from low and behind you...

    The rafting in turn means a lunchtime arrival at the Thee Lor Sue National Park HQ. That, a lunch break, plus the 30 minute stroll through the forest means you are indeed faced with taking photos into the sun at the waterfalls... A smart option could be to split the rafting trip and the waterfall visit over two days...
  12. Fishenough

    Fishenough Ol'Timer

    Thank you Ron and Ben,for many of us a visit to the Teelorsu Waterfall is number 1 on the list of relatively nearby sights. It is true that getting to the trail leading to the falls can not be done under your own power? Not problem though, I gotta do the rafting trip too. An early morning arrival would be worth it, as several different reports have written.

    Ben, is there any sign of Mahseer in the Umpang River?

  13. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    I didn't see any private vehicles at the entrance to the falls but I don't see why you couldn't take your own transport. That being said, don't take 4 wheels unless its got good ground clearance as the track, which I think was a road at one point in time, really is rutted and messy in places. A KLX would be the go.
    Ben, any thoughts on this?
  14. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

    Thanks for this you have got the memsahib interested and so plans are afoot.
    A few specific queries if you don't mind which are not so clear from the text.
    1. Where do you get the rafts from - I have heard of overnight packages that include camping.
    2. Were you made to take the 2500 baht 4x4 scam from Umphang town to TiLoSu park or did your pick the Songteaw up from the rafting point?
    3. I am assuming the ban on bikes going to TiLoSu park is still in place, didid you get that impression when you ere there?
    I know RobertH & MikeH managed to get through but the road would not be too much fun on a big laden D/S bike anyway.
    Appreciate the time you both took posting your reports, it is still one of those great unspoiled areas to ride, on the road to nowhere!
    And encouraging more GT-Rs to go on one of Thailand's best rides, may also help in improving the facilities in Umphang.
  15. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    Rhodie, the Garden Huts are not so bad and the resturant accross the river is actually very good tucker as long as you keep away from those Karen chilli. Wickedly potent they are indeed.
  16. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Great report! Can't wait to head down that way. :happy1:
  17. Kiwi Cruiser

    Kiwi Cruiser Ben Kemp Staff Member

    Hi John

    Here's the answers to your questions;

    1. Where do you get the rafts from - I have heard of overnight packages that include camping.

    The raft trip was arranged through the Garden Huts, and provided by the owner of the Umphang Resort across the road. A nice guy...

    2. Were you made to take the 2500 baht 4x4 scam from Umphang town to TiLoSu park or did your pick the Songteaw up from the rafting point?

    Ther raft operator also organised the song thiew pickup at the end of the rafting trip, the driver took us through the the National Park and returned us to the Garden Huts afterwards.

    The price for the full day trip was 1500 THB per person, and considering the logistics involved, and the terrain, I'd say it was fair value. Its a shitty road, and if you factor in 1/2 a tank of diesel, and the wear and tear on the vehicle, trucking the rafts back to Umphang in a separate vehicle etc, its a very fair price.

    3. I am assuming the ban on bikes going to TiLoSu park is still in place, did you get that impression when you were there?

    We saw one bike on the track in and out. Its certainly not suitable for a road bike, there's 25kms of very very rough trail, with a few very short cement sections. Its nasty, pure and simple. The dust, ruts, potholes and washouts would thin out all but the most enthusiastic riders, I'd say. :eek:
  18. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

    Cheers Ben,
    Much appreciated & very useful info - and, as you say, not a bad price all things considered.
    When I first went to the waterfall 5 years ago there were still a few stretches of tarmac road visible midst the rutted wash-outs.
    But considering the terrain, rainfall and relatively small number of people using the road
    it must be uneconomical to keep it in good repair.
  19. burnjr

    burnjr Ol'Timer

    umhpang is beutiful waterfall in sea.thanks for sharing
  20. Kiwi Cruiser

    Kiwi Cruiser Ben Kemp Staff Member

    Here's a small image addendum to the Trip Report. Just been down 105 to Mae Sot, R12 to Tak, 1 to Thoen, 106 to Li, 1103 to Hot etc...

    The first section of R105 road works south of Mae Ngao National Park are being sealed at present, presumably the rest will be done soon thereafter, judging by the massive amount of asphalt chips on site...


    The views as you drop southward down towards Tha Song Yang are pretty stunning in the early morning!

  21. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer


    Beautiful shot that last one, the mornings are sometimes the best of all.


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