Hidden within Mae Wang national park lies the old river ruins of Pha Chor. Believed to be the old course of the Ping river, after movement from tectonic plates and erosion, it has now become a small tourist destination. When I say small, I mean you’ll struggle to find much information about it. Don’t let that deter you from going though, because it’s another one of those scenic drives around Chiang Mai and it’s a natural beauty worth checking out.
The erosion has over time, left soil pillars and cliffs standing at around 30 meters high. It has become a quiet tourist destination, mainly visited by Thai nationals. In fact, when we visited, we were the only foreign people around.
Lee and I decided we wanted to see more of Chiang Mai having ticked off most of the destinations Chiang Mai has to offer in a year of living here. I came across Pha Chor only from another blogger. I found basic instructions on how to get there, a map that took us to the wrong place and just a couple of road numbers (108 and 1013). So off we went, towards Mae Wang National park. Located around an hours drive South from Chiang Mai, you reach the entrance to the park. Although if you’re anything like me, you’ll miss the turning and continue driving for a further 40 minutes in the wrong direction! Although it wasn’t completely my fault, the map we had was wrong too! Thankfully the route we took was stunning, heading into the mountains and driving past rows and rows of stunning paddy fields. So don’t be too disheartened if you miss the turn, as the views your met with through the countryside are worth it anyway!
Finally locating the correct turn off, and heading into the park, you pay 100bht to get in plus 20bht for a motorbike. Spotting the turn for Pha Chor, we had to wait for a herd of cows walking freely to cross in front of us which was a lovely sight! The turn takes you off the nice, flat roads and onto a very bumpy dirt track!
Arriving, there’s a place to park up, go to the loo and grab a coffee before embarking on a short 10 minute walk to get to the cliffs. I think we were a rare sight for all of the Thai tourists walking past, kind of got the feeling we were being stared at.
We decided to start at the top and work our way down, admiring all the details on the structures and catching a photo opportunity whenever we could. You can walk all around the cliffs, on the way out following the actual route of the river, which can get very narrow. Tip: wear long trousers to stop the cliffs from cutting your legs.
Pha Chor was a great find, and the drive leading up to the park was just as stunning as the cliffs too. I say it’s a tourist destination but there were only a handful of people there. Making it a quiet and relaxing place, a hidden find within Mae Wang national park.
If you have time, take a drive past the car park of Pha Chor and follow the signs for Pha Daeng. Similar to Pha Chor with huge cliffs but on a higher level and you’re met with an incredible view across the stunning mountain range. Be aware that the roads leading up to it are full of gravel and rocks. We ended up pulling over and walking the last 200 meters as it was difficult on the bike.
Another point of interest before you get to Pha Chor, is to continue driving straight. You’re met with a river and in the dry season, its completely dry so you can drive along the course of the river. Deciding to take a walk, you stumble across a stream of water and a bamboo hut hidden within the trees. A very scenic walk with no one around, hearing only the sounds of nature and the trickling stream. It was probably my favourite part of the day!