Unseen North Thailand.. And Beautiful Lom Phu Keaow


Dec 9, 2008
Firstly, a new and very attractive memorial, on the 1098 Mae Chan - Doi Luang road.
2016-09-14 10.09.38.jpg

It commemorates the twins, JaoPor JunDech and JaoPor JunTry who were army officers and personal bodyguards of King Mangrai.
2016-09-14 10.10.35.jpg

Then found a newly sign-posted track to a waterfall near Phaya Mangrai. Didn't get the name unfortunately, but the track into the jungle was recently cut, as were the steps leading up alongside the fall. Not a huge waterfall, but was quite high, extremely attractive and rarely visited with just a couple of simple signs. No-one around when I was there.
2016-09-14 11.25.39.jpg

2016-09-14 11.16.01.jpg

Then on to the main destination. David had tipped me off about Lom Phu Keaow some time ago, so off I went to find it, knowing only that it was somewhere near Ngao, Lampang province. There are a couple of signs on highway 1, so not that hard to find really and only about 20klms from the main road. However, the sign is a little confusing as it is not "Kaew" but "Keaow".
2016-09-15 13.41.22.jpg

I thought it was a blue lake, but the name is Green lake. Heading along tarmac and concrete roads, plenty of signs abound. 2 waterfalls nearby also.
2016-09-15 13.48.57.jpg

Then onto the dirt for about 4 klms.
2016-09-15 13.55.51.jpg

A bit slippery in rainy season, so care is needed.
2016-09-15 13.59.30.jpg

2016-09-15 14.07.02.jpg

2016-09-15 14.11.25.jpg

Then a 0.5m deep river crossing, good fun.....
2016-09-15 14.12.53.jpg

Out into the parking area. No-one else here..... good.
2016-09-15 14.59.51.jpg

A five minute walk up the steps where I left a small offering at the spirit house. Then down the other side........and you see Lom Phu Keaow.
2016-09-15 14.17.35.jpg

WOW....... think I said that to myself 3 or 4 times.......
2016-09-15 14.26.49.jpg

What a beautiful place!!
2016-09-15 14.28.09.jpg

Impossible to photograph properly with my phone. it appears to be like a sink hole, except that it is mostly steep sheer rock walls around half of it.
Depth would be unknown and I assume the turquoise colour comes from the limestone rocks.
2016-09-15 14.29.36.jpg

2016-09-15 14.29.45.jpg

Plenty of fish of many types. Interesting rocks too, suggesting there has been aquatic life here... since ancient times.
2016-09-15 14.33.08.jpg

2016-09-15 14.40.03.jpg

I sat down on the rocks for about half an hour, just contemplating the beauty of nature, in this serene and magical place.

2016-09-15 14.40.07.jpg

Not a speck of garbage or plastic around, just buzzing insects for company.
2016-09-15 14.45.35.jpg

I watched the catfish, as they rested with their heads pointing upwards.
2016-09-15 14.45.49.jpg

2016-09-15 14.54.01.jpg

Well, time to depart, sadly. But with a renewed sense of calm in the soul........
If you have a chance to visit Lom Phu Keaow, now is a good time, if you can. One day there will be a concrete road in and busloads of tourists.....
2016-09-15 15.14.18.jpg

2016-09-15 15.36.49.jpg

I headed back down the trail and off on a side track towards the waterfalls.
2016-09-15 15.42.53.jpg

2016-09-15 15.43.00.jpg

Yep, real unseen Thailand............ except that I can barely read the sign where it says that........
Tham Phatai is the National Park. No gates or rangers in this area though. I headed left towards prehistoric rock art.
2016-09-15 15.47.46.jpg

More to come......


  • 2016-09-15 14.40.24.jpg
    2016-09-15 14.40.24.jpg
    72.4 KB · Views: 56
  • 2016-09-15 15.47.46.jpg
    2016-09-15 15.47.46.jpg
    60.8 KB · Views: 60


Dec 9, 2008
Further adventures looking for unseen Thailand, continued.....

2016-09-15 15.48.29.jpg

2016-09-15 16.47.57.jpg

2016-09-15 16.53.27.jpg

I pulled into a village and started asking about ancient rock art.
2016-09-15 16.38.39.jpg

2016-09-15 16.38.31.jpg

Half a dozen guys looked at each other questioningly, until the Yao tribesman who appeared the most drunk, said he would take me there. Sounds good, methinks.... as my non plastic-guide-badge wearing "guide" staggered over to his clapped out 2 stroke shopping bike.
He then headed off up the most seriously steep trail with me floundering behind in his wake. These are the occasions when the KLX 250 is just far too big, heavy and cumbersome.
2016-09-15 16.34.22.jpg

These mountain men are superb riders and I was wishing I was on a Honda Wave. But I gunned it on super steep slippery sections and just hoped for the best.
Dangerous?..... Yes. Fun?...... No, just scary..... and if fact if he hadn't been there I would have given up after 50m...
2016-09-15 16.21.33.jpg

This would be a challenging trail for young men, in their twenties, in the dry season........ so why was an old bugger in his sixties attempting this in the rainy season.....?
Very good question.....
It got a little easier as we climbed higher. But this part of unseen Thailand will probably remain mostly unseen for quite some time.
2016-09-15 16.15.51.jpg

2016-09-15 16.15.47.jpg

Khun Surin, my Yao guide. Communication was tricky, as his Thai was rather limited and my Yao is abysmal.......
2016-09-15 16.14.40.jpg

2016-09-15 16.14.38.jpg

The rock art is left of centre in this photo.
2016-09-15 16.10.58.jpg

2016-09-15 16.12.27.jpg

The artwork could do with some expert cleanup, but I have no doubt it was genuine. There is other rock art in Lampang, notably at Pratu Pah about 30 klms south, right next to highway 1.
2016-09-15 16.12.22.jpg

Khun Surin left me there, as he was heading 'further on up the doi'...... blimey, some hilltribe people live in such remote areas.
No time to linger though, a storm was coming in and I was going to struggle, a slippin' and a slidin' down the slopes. If the rain hits before I get down, I'm in big trouble.....
2016-09-15 16.14.32.jpg

I got back down and out of the dirt tracks onto the concrete roads, to my great relief, just as the heavens opened.
The rain was torrential as I pulled into a roadhouse on highway 1. The Somporn Karaoke Resort, complete with concrete mattress and brick pillow. At least short-time hotels usually have covered parking, which was appreciated.
The Chang slipped down the neck with ease, as I contemplated a superb day visiting Lom Phu Keaow and an ancient rock art site.
Unseen, unknown and almost unaccessible.....
More to follow....


Dec 9, 2008
Next morning, I headed into Ngao market for an early Jok Moo and greasy Patong Gor breakfast. Close by was the 80 year old suspension bridge. It looked in fine condition but was now for pedestrians only. I had whizzed past Ngao numerous times going up and down highway 1, but never stopped to have a look. Actually a nice traditional northern town that probably needs more investigation.
2016-09-16 06.47.46.jpg

2016-09-16 06.48.03.jpg

2016-09-16 06.48.39.jpg

2016-09-16 06.50.06.jpg

Being a glutton for punishment, I had to visit the 2 waterfalls noted on the sign, from yesterday. So I headed back to the sign and turned right this time. Actually, mostly flat dirt tracks with a nice helping of thick clay mud.
2016-09-16 07.59.46.jpg

2016-09-16 08.11.36.jpg

The "Unseen" sign was getting more unseen after the heavy rain the day before.
2016-09-16 08.14.05.jpg

First was Mae Gae waterfall in full flow. Again, no-one else around... Spectacular and beautiful, surrounded by thick jungle.
2016-09-16 08.29.25.jpg

2016-09-16 08.36.47.jpg

One klm further was Gaow Fu waterfall, also looking beautiful.
2016-09-16 09.02.15.jpg
2016-09-16 08.55.13.jpg

I carried on along the trail.
2016-09-16 09.07.30.jpg

Soon came to the entrance to the Buddha Cave, which was a gated bridge over a small river.
2016-09-16 09.13.56.jpg
2016-09-16 09.14.33.jpg
2016-09-16 09.16.14.jpg
2016-09-16 09.17.14.jpg

2016-09-16 09.18.12.jpg
2016-09-16 09.19.04.jpg

A palanquin for the Abbott?
2016-09-16 09.20.35.jpg
2016-09-16 09.20.39.jpg
2016-09-16 09.20.57.jpg
2016-09-16 09.21.13.jpg
2016-09-16 09.22.10.jpg
2016-09-16 09.22.47.jpg
2016-09-16 09.24.01.jpg
2016-09-16 09.24.48.jpg
2016-09-16 09.25.32.jpg
2016-09-16 09.25.41.jpg
2016-09-16 09.30.15.jpg

So more pics from a superb rainy season trip... best time of year...
2016-09-16 09.39.36.jpg
2016-09-16 09.39.40.jpg
2016-09-16 09.55.49.jpg
2016-09-16 09.56.02.jpg
2016-09-16 09.57.28.jpg
2016-09-16 11.13.34.jpg
2016-09-16 11.26.43.jpg
2016-09-16 11.31.32.jpg
2016-09-16 11.35.07.jpg
2016-09-16 11.35.11.jpg

After 4 days of wet feet all day..... time to head home before the trenchfoot sets in....


  • 2016-09-16 09.22.00.jpg
    2016-09-16 09.22.00.jpg
    57.9 KB · Views: 41


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
Love this one.
You are still finding new attractions all the time - pristine water holes, waterfalls, rock art & slippery trails.
How good does life get here for you / us.
North Thailand never ceases to amaze me how is concentrated in such a small area & still "waiting to be discovered."

Re that Lom Phu Keaow hole - I think I've been procrastinating about checking it out for 3 years I reckon, so glad that you finally made it.
And yeah I think there's quite a bit more we can turn up in that area if we keep digging.
So I look forward to some adventures around North-East & South-East of Lampang.
Keep going.

R1154 that runs south-east out of Ngao is a beauty too, going through the Mae Yom National Park I think it is.


Jan 5, 2008
Great report Ian. You certainly have a knack for finding the interesting and out of the way places.
Lom Phu Keaow and.Gaow Fu waterfall look amazing, and there definitely on my to do list after looking at your photos, and riding those slick tracks to get to them would have been fun.

Thanks sharing.