Window to Chiang Mai Thailand
Mudplaying with Elephants
(Half-day. H108. Return via Ping River 40 km.)
The road to Hang Dong has numerous outlets mostly specializing in woodcarving.
Take this route if you want to look at two handicrafts - one traditional, and the other highly commercialized - and a fine 19th century temple showing the spiritual origins of modern wood- carving. Return to Chiang Mai by following the banks of the Ping River. You may visit Wiang Kum Kam on the return leg.
Ban Muang Kung
See location at Google Maps: Ban Muang Kung
(KM.10. If coming from Chiang Mai do a U-turn at junction of R1269 with H108. West turn at Police box - 200 m.)
Many households in this village specialize in making traditional earthenware jugs for serving water.
Villagers turn pots on simple hand-driven wheels with an ease that tells of years of practice. Go through the village and left to R1269. Turn right (west) to reach the canal bridge and Wat Inthrawat.
Wat Inthrawat (Wat Ton Khwen)
See location at Google Maps: Wat Inthrawat (Wat Ton Khwen)
(H1296 KM.37 south turn 100 m. after canal bridge - 200 m.)
Built around 1858, the temple served as a resting place for the Phra Boromathat Chom Thong relic when it was brought from Chom Thong to Chiang Mai. This temple is a wonderful example of Lanna wooden architecture of the 19th century. Note the decoration in the viharn and the detail in the cross-shaped hall in the temple courtyard.
After leaving Wat Inthrawat, go to Hang Dong and then to Ban Tawai. If you go via small lanes, you may pass Wat Hang Dong. The viharn was probably built around the same time as that of Wat Ton Khwen.
However, the wooden building is in a sad state (the barge boards and other parts are falling away at the time of writing).
Whether the viharn will survive the pressure from lack of funds and local desires for a completely new building remains to be seen.
Ob Khan National Park
See location at Google Maps: Ob Khan National Park
(Canal Rd. KM. 66 west turn - 12 km. unsealed after 6 km. 4WD. Accommodation & camping are available)
The Khan River flows through a small gorge and into a large natural pool, which becomes very popular at weekends. Follow the path (take water and a picnic if you have children) past the gorge and along the rocky river bed to a better, less visited pool below Ob Hai about 450 meters upstream.
See location at Google Maps: Ban Tawai
(KM. 15 east turn from middle of Hang Dong - 3 km.)
This village is the center of Thailand's woodcarving industry.
Woodcarving outlets are very numerous on the road near Hang Dong. Chiang Mai Golden Export (153, Moo Ban Wen. Tel: 44143 7. Hours 08:00 - 17:00), a few hundred meters from the Hang Dong junction on the north side, has a small collection of old cars in addition to woodcarvings.
To enter Ban Tawai itself, turn right at Rattanapon Art (3 km. from the the junction with H108). Outlets selling carvings extend for over a kilometer. After approximately 700 meters a small turn to the east leads to Wat Tawai. The east-facing entrance to the temple consists of woodcarvings contributed by different local craftsmen. The main road through the village continues until it reaches the river after three kilometers. The direct road from Ban Tawai to Pa Dua district is shorter.
Ban Pa Dua
See location at Google Maps: Ban Pa Dua
(7 km. from Ban Tawai)
Wealthy looking villages amidst longan orchards surround this small crossroads market. Cross the bridge over the Ping River to visit the market and for the easy road to Saraphi. To return to Chiang Mai, follow the road along the west bank of the Ping north. You may visit Wiang Kum Kam by crossing on the first bridge and then by following the east bank north until you reach the McKean Institute at KM.4.
Hang Dong & the Ping River