Around Doi Tao Lake
Chiangmai is mostly surrounded by countryside, so it doesn't take long to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. There are several national parks, mountains, small quaint towns, rivers and lakes to enjoy in this region all within a few hours drive away. Here's an idea for those staying in Chiangmai for a while that want to experience a little getaway from city life. Head south on Highway 108 for about 90 kms. toward Hord.
The drive along 108 out of Chiangmai is pretty much a flat, uneventful highway. You'll pass through vast farmlands and some main thoroughfares of a few small towns. There are also some beautiful and peaceful wats along the way you can't miss them which offer great places to rest and stretch your legs.
But the journey to Hord and Doi Tao Lake is really only about 2 hours away. Keep driving past the turn off for Doi Inthanon and pass through the town of Chom Thong. At the end of 108, veer left onto Highway 1130 for another 35 kms. to Doi Tao town. You are now entering the mountainous Orb Luang National Park area.
An Accidental Lake
Doi Tao Lake is on the right. This lake is actually the result of the Bhumibol Dam, which was erected on the Mae Ping River in Taak Province only a few years ago to fill a nearby reservoir. The water also eventually stopped up in the Orb Luang National Park area, creating the lake. In the old days, the water simply kept flowing as the Mae Ping River.
This great body of water now offers recreational opportunities during the rainy and cool seasons, from July to December. Lake craft is available for hire in four different categories, and food and drinks are also plentiful. The Department of Fisheries stocks the lake with millions of shrimp and freshwater fish. Each day, the local fisherman bring up about 250-300 kilos of seafood to sell for about 180-250 baht a kilogram.
The lake has certainly added to the charm of the Doi Tao District, which was already replete with tropical plant life, wild animals, birds and nature trails in the Orb Luang National Park. A major highlight of the park is a gorge framed with teak forests and mountains. Locals describe the scene as "magical". Look to the strong currents of the stream for the noise of water crashing against the rock walls. A small bridge connects the two sides of the gorge.
Around Doi Tao District
There are several nearby sights you shouldn't miss if you're going to be staying in Doi Tao. Spend a couple days or more in this relaxing oasis in the mountains of Northern Thailand. Wat Phra Thart Doi Kerng
Located about 60 kms. from the Doi Tao District Office at Tha Dua subdistrict, this temple is special for a chedi that reportedly contains ashes of the Buddha. On the annual Makabhucha Day, a bathing ceremony is held at this chedi.
Located about 22 kms. from the Doi Tao District Office on Baan Ngew Soong in Pong Thoong subdistrict, this limestone cave once served as a refuge for soldiers during wars with the Burmese. Now monks inhabit it.
Orb Mae Waeng
Located about 5 kms. from Tha Soon (Doi Tao Harbor) in Tha Dua subdistrict, this small canyon features a stone furrow in the Mae Waeng gully which boasts a waterfall that flows directly to a small, nearby reservoir. The reservoir is only 3 meters wide, 30 meters long, and 2 meters deep. You can take a long boat from Doi Tao Lake for about 15 minutes, then walk about 2 kms. Huge tropical plants outline the gully it's a lovely scene!
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