Lazy Rafting Down the Chiang Mai’s Mae Wang River

by Jul 29, 2019

What’s a river ride?

I think it’s like what those guys are doing down there on the small rafts.

Mae Wang River Ride tl;dr

  • Chai Lai Orchid River Activity
  • Short Drive Up River
  • Return on a Bamboo Raft

While staying in the depths of Chiang Mai’s countryside, Nadia and I had the small opportunity to travel the river like locals. At the hotel we were staying at, the offer to take a river cruise was made and we couldn’t pass it up. We shortly got onto the back of a truck with another couple and drove up river.

Interestingly enough, the world is indeed a small place, but more on that in the next post. After having crossed an amount of road, we got off the truck up river and made our way to the water in the direction that was pointed out.

Chiang Mai Wang River Nadia 02

It was fascinating to see the number of elephants within the area as it seemed that nearly every farm appeared to have several elephants of their own. We were informed that elephants have become relatively domesticated during the history of the Thai people and are a common sight in the countryside. Having said that, not everyone is as progressive with the treatment of their elephants as others would like them to be.

Back to rafting…

Slowly, methodically, carefully trying to board the thing yet long bamboo raft I failed miserably and stepped in the river despite my best efforts. To my relief, it’s the dry seasons and the edge of the river is very shallow only getting my ankle wet. Our rafting guide slowly directed the raft down the river, riding the current ever so gently as we passed both people, animals and countless farms.

Chiang Mai Wang River Nadia and JM 02

Seeing locals interact with each other made me think of how things were done in my own country’s past. People selling wares and items at the riverside to passersbys and travelers alike. Customers would paddle up to them, order a bite and sit awhile talking about whatever everyday things people talk about.

I imagined this would be akin to riding down the Mississippi River like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. There’s a certain charm and appeal of lackadaisically riding the river’s current and watch the world pass you by. I can understand why some people would give it all up for a slower paced life and enjoying the moments, good and bad as they enter and depart one’s perception.

Chiang Mai Wang River Nadia

BANG! (or slap depending on how you hear water)

And that’s when our guide slapped the water with his oar splashing me with the realization that I should probably remove my limbs from the water. He said so as much, communicating in broken English that there was a water snake. Whether that’s true or not, I’ll never know, but I kept my guard up as one unfamiliar with local fauna always should.

We got to the end and I kind of wished it had lasted that much longer. It was an experience that, like nearly all my lazy times on the water, have been both enjoyable and memorable.

What is It

Wang River is a popular redoubt for locals to visit during the hot season to cool down at it’s edge while eating and drinking to their heart’s content.

As apart of our stay at Chai Lai Orchid, they offered this short activity free of charge.

Chiang Mai Wang River 02

Where is It

Mae Wang River runs through the Western Chiang Mai countryside. The place where we boarded our raft was about 1 hour by car outside of the Old City. Depending on when you visit, the season can make the river either ankle shallow or deep enough to swim. 

Chiang Mai Wang River Nadia on Swing

What to Do There

  • Go there to cool off…
  • Sit in the shade…
  • Dip your feet in the current of the river…
  • Grab a bite to eat…
  • Watch your worries wash away…
  • If the season is right, you can even go swimming!

Chiang Mai Wang River Nadia and JM

Mae Wang River


How do you feel about water rafting?

You're going to eat, you might as well eat something tasty.
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