The Floods


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
Some pix from the North & the flash flood that hit Saturday 13th August in Pai / Chiang Dao / Phrao, then Sunday 14th August in Chiang Mai. These were the worst for 40 years in Chiang Mai & no doubt were the result of torrential rain in the upper reaches of the Ping & Pai watersheds.

The rain started Friday night the 12th & poured non-stop all night.
Mates in Pai say the flash flood hit around 7.00 am on the Saturday, with the main damage coming from "run-off" in the Nam Hu / Santi Chum & the mountain to east of Pai. This water, mud & trees literally crashed into Pai & trashed the market area.

Below: A hole in the wall of house, from a tree trunk washed down!


Below: the tree trunk in the house.

Pic below: the main street of Pai.

Below: The trashed market place.

Below: Khet Klang street.



Pic below: Outside the Pai police station. note the amount of mud & sand.

Below: Beside the police station.

Below: Mud & sand deposited in the street

Below: "Lucky" Blasko bar, still standing, but a bit wonky.

The BeBop Bar was untouched, so that was good luck for Chart & Co.

The waters from the Pai then rose & flooded the town. The Pai river flows west to Mae Hong Son & into the Salween river.

Below: The Pai river, looking upstream from the Bamboo Bar.

Below: looking downstream

Below: the road to Mo Paeng from Nam Hu / Santi Chum.


Below: Route 1095 from Pai - Soppong.

Below: They had a bit of trouble with some of the bridges alright.

The road from Pai to Soppong was cut for 5 days, and was open again on late Thursday 18th August!

In Chiang Dao the locals say the flood hit at 5.00 am on the Saturday morning. This water was from the Ping river, which is joined by the Mae Taeng river at Mae Malai south of Chiang dao / north of Chiang Mai.

Below: The Mae Taeng river in flood. View looking downstream from the bridge over the Mae Taeng at Mae Malai.

Below: The flooded Ping river, just a few hundred metres north of the Chiang Dao Elephant camp. The river had even been above the old wooden bridge over the river!

Below: The flooded Ping looking upstream north of the Chiang Dao Elephant camp.

Below: R107 where the Ping had flowed over the road.

Below: The flooded Ping south of Chiang Dao at Sop Khap.

This then all flowed south to hit Chiang Mai late Sunday.

Below: Nakorn Ping bridge. Looking upstream.

Below: The Ping, looking downstream from the Nakorn Ping bridge.

Below: The Ping, looking upstream from the Nakorn Ping bridge. US consulate on the left.

Below: Warorot Market.

Below: The Ping, looking downstream from the Nawarat bridge.

Below: The Ping, looking downstream from the Nawarat bridge.

Most of the flooding was centered around the Ping river & to the east of the river. The west side of the Ping was ok, except for the immediate river area, up to Kampaengdin road & part of Loi Kroa & Thapae.

Below: Flooded Loi kroa Rd, looking west, taken from Mae Ping Hotel intersection Kamphaengdin & Loi Kroa roads.

Chang Klan rd as usual was under water.

For the me the main cause, apart from the torrential rain, is the deforestation, especially the cultivation of crops on the steep mountain slopes. Often the land is cleared & there’s not a tree left standing, so that the locals can plant crops – corn, cabbages, soya bean – which do nothing for the soil & have no deep root system to help retain any water. When it rains both the soil & water is just washed away down into the valleys. Often with such force that trees & are bought down in the process. The result is terrible & often catastrophic as you can see from some of the photos.

Keep The Power On
Last edited:


Nov 2, 2004
Thanks for the report. The pictures answered most of my questions. Does anyone know if The Bella Villa Resort in Pai is alright? Thanks, Bill (in California)


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
Back from Pai & checking out the floods personally, this time - the previous photos above were from Guy at Thai Adventure Rafting. Guy was in Pai when it all happened.

Unbelievably, he (Guy) also went down the Pai river by raft, chasing a tour group of 12 people that had left the day before the flood & should had been camped at his river camp, half way to MHS, when the flood hit Pai. Guy says that the actual river rafting travel time took only 3 hrs from Muang Paeng to MHS, with the river in full flood! But he lost 1 1/2 hrs scouting some serious rapids, (normally grade 4 he says, but in this flood grade 5!) en route, and by the time he arrived in MHS his tour group was already safely there! Incredible stuff & it just shows you what a professional outfit Guy runs.

Anyway the bulk of pix I got were from the source of the main flood - out to the east of Pai & the Nam Hu / Santi Chum area. (They were taken on Saturday 21st / Sunday 22nd August.)
Believe me its scary stuff to look at when your out there & my guess is that it will take a few months to clear the debris away, it is so bad.
Thousands of trees / logs came down the mountain, crashing through parts of Pai, & inundating it with metres of mud in the process.
Some parts of town were untouched, & that's just the luck of the game I guess.
So if you want to take a look at how bad it was, slip on out to Pai & take a peak.
The town's a bit dirty - muddy & dusty when dry - but there are gangs of people working to clean up the mess in the streets.

Pic below: From the Pai river bridge. Looking downstream at the mud & devastation.

Pics below: the "2nd main street" in town where the stream ran through alongside the market. The flood poured thru here, across the main street, & down into the river.





Pic below: What's left of the old market place.

Pix Below: On the road to Nam Hu / Santi Chum.











Pixs below: the start of the Pai - Soppong Rd, by the small Cosmo gas station.



Most, if not all, of the bamboo ghouses alongside / across the river have been wiped out. Nearly all riverside ghouses have extensive damage.
The Baan Pai restaurant / Duang Ghouse corner area was "almost untouched."
Sorry did not get out to check on the Belle Villa, but understand they are "ok." Ban Krating lost a few bungalows.

Pic below: downstream from town. Dont know what this place was.






The bulk of the tourists / back packers cleared out after the flood & there's no doubt that the townspeople would like to see you all come back.
Some parts of town are "normal" & there's still plenty of ghouse rooms available.
The BeBop's still rocking, although Chart seems to start playing later than ever.

Keep The Power On


Dec 18, 2003
Just an update on Soppong, as I was there when it all happened. The floods seemed to hit at about 0630, as we were awakened by one of our faithful kitties who was mewing constantly at the door, apparently meaning to wake us up. Animals can be funny that way sometimes. We arose to see a torrent of water, mud, trees, and all manner of what used to be houses going down the river.

Soppong RIver Inn fared nearly unscathed, with only a few trees coming down along the banks. For anyone who has ever been on the deck, the water came up to within one meter of the planks, and it was indeed a scary sight. Having done a complete renovation and enlargement of the deck just two weeks earlier, Architect Joy had thankfully specified cement footers put in the rocks to support the deck, otherwise, the whole thing surely would have gone.

Since there was not only floodwater as well as the risk of mudslides, we decided to evacuate, however the water and mud was a torrent through the market area in one direction, and in the other direction, the entire agricultural station area (Baan Tha Krai) was a large lake and the road was under about 1.5 meters of water. Stuck in Soppong with no way out, we decided to wait it out at the main police station, which is located up a small hill. Amazingly, our local 60+ year old forest monk was unfazed and walked straight through the flooded road and the overflowing stream at Jungle Guesthouse and onward towards the market for his morning rounds! He was quoted as saying "this is the punishment of the forest for what people have done to it".

Interestingly, even during the greatest natural disaster to hit the area in many years, life seemed to go right on right at the peak of the flood. While waiting at the police station, someone stopped by to report that the net fishing was excellent down at Baan Tha Krai, since all the large fish from upstream had been washed down.

Although there was a lot of mud and water, the main market area was not washed out and everything is still standing, unlike the unfortunate market area in Pai.

Old Soppong did not fare so well, with a few houses being completely washed out near the bridge. Two Honda Dreams are also unaccounted for.

Ban Nam Rin, the Lisu village where Lisu Lodge is located, was a tragedy. Many houses were washed out and 11 people were lost as well. I believe that the true death toll in Northern Thailand is being understated, or perhaps hilltribe people don't count. We were told that Rudi (Lisu Lodge) was OK.

Lemon Hill guesthouse has lost their two riverside bungalows, and Baan Cafe apparently lost some as well. From what we know, all the other guesthouses were mostly OK. As David has pointed out, the road from Pai over the mountain to Pai has reopened. Not sure what the condition is, but the buses are running a regular schedule again.
Nov 14, 2004
Dave thanks for the post on the floods around Pai, loved Pai when we stayed there, sad to hear about the bamboo huts on the river being washed away, if there was a place in the world that was chill central it was waking up by the river , fog in the air, local coffee, cool as.
Keep the dream alive for us all back in the rat race, gotta do Laos next, all the posts have me gee'd up an plan'n like a bandit.
Regards ....Scott...Land of longer magical!!!
Jul 6, 2004
Wow David! I am glad I was with you last year, the condition we were in after a few heavy nights at Bebops would not put us in a healthy position to front floods at 7.00am in the morning, I feel sad for the people, but I know they will come back stronger.

growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
Bump for a flood memory, now that everyone is talking about the 2022 Chiang Mai flood.
It's not the first time & the one in 95 arguably may have been bigger.

Some flood reports

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