Wednesday, 7 November 2007


Fang geyser blowing

Fang hot springs rates, in Thailand, as one of it's most famous. The Thai language travel magazine 'Places and Prices' recent 'special issue' mentions Fang as well as Sankhampaeng, Pong Dued, Thapai Ranong and Jaeson as their top hot springs in the country.
After already visiting 3 of these aforementioned, as well as some others, I must agree that Fang certainly is worth a visit, though I haven't visited all thai hot springs (yet?) to be able to ascertain that it is one of the best! But what about its soaking qualities? Let's find out!

The hot springs are situated in Mae Fang National Park, where the park headquarters are also situated; so you have to pay the entrance fees, though oddly these were only 200 THB, which is roughly 10 $US. We came early in the morning with a slight drizzle coming down. We were also the only visitors at that moment. Supposedly round mid-day things get busier when tour groups on their way to Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai stop for some sightseeing.

One can park the car directly next to the hot springs 'park' which has been created around the hot springs. Through this park are a number of hot springs. Next to the car parking is a visitors center, though with little background on the hot springs; focusing on the whole of the national park, situated on a mountain range with Burma. At the back of the hot springs park one can see a large steel pipe which apparently carries hot steam to a geothermal power plant, just outside the national park.

Just one of the springs

The main highlight of the park is the geyser, which spouts every half hour for a couple of minutes.

From the Mae Fang National Park information folder:
'Hot Spring: A natural hot spring, produced by underground heat, emits water with a temperature of about 50-87 degrees C. Several hot springs can be found within the area of 10 rai, the biggest which can produce steam up to 30-40 meters in height'.
Despite using the hot springs for electricity generation purposes and simultaneously being a focal point for tourism, authorities have been able to maintain a naturalness to the area, as well as maintaining safety and providing tourists the opportunity to go along the various hot springs. No refuse and standards of maintenance were evidently high.

Mae Fang National Park Hot Springs Private Soaks: tasteful from the outside, prison-like on the inside.

The authorities have also put a considerable effort in providing bathing facilities. A raised walkway over /next to a pond provides access to private facilities, which can be rented. This kind of facilities I fail to understand. Why would anyone travel long distance to visit a natural wonder only to lock oneself in a cell which in western society would not even be a prison cell? It's also a phenomena that is not necessarily Thai or non-western. Last year, I visited New Zealand and on 1 occasion rented such a 'cell'. Though it looked like a good idea at the moment, we hardly used it. Yes, you can pursue your own dress code, but you exclude yourself from the surroundings: is it rainy, sunny, windy, are birds whistling, is the vegetation green, who are my neighbours, what's my son up to? No way of knowing. I personally would like to soak 'au naturel' whenever, where ever, but somehow world societal norms are set against this. Beats me why?
I have also been to a couple of hot springs in Nepal, oddly enough those not visited by foreigners were also the most relaxed on the dress code. Most visitors bathed in their underwear, with women mostly topless. As nearly everybody's underwear was threadbare, small, flat slate rocks were used, so as to make sure no one could look up your backside! Large communal pools, none of these small private facilities.
Why not make more tasteful, private facilities, partially open, screened off naturally if society so requires? Keeps everyone (including myself more or less happy).

I am digressing, yes. Well besides the small cells, there were also tasteful communal pools (see photo below) as well as steam sauna's. As the prudes had won again, these (both the pools and the sauna) were sex-disaggregated. As we were the only visitors we decided to flaunt these rules as tourists everywhere tend to. The water was only lukewarm, though not too cold, but hardly a hot soaking. If you need a massage, these kind of facilities are also provided, which altogether is not such a bad idea.

Public tubs: the men's tubs are well designed, allowing to soak the surroundings as well

Getting There: Fang Hot Springs are situated at the end of road number 4054, which originates from the Fang-Muang Chum 4017 road. The main turn off highway 107 (Chiang Mai - Mae Chan- Chiang Rai) is well signed, however the turn off to road 4054 (a couple of hundred meters from the main road) is less well signposted. In all it's about 10 km from Fang town. As it is on a dead end side road, there is absolutely no public transport.

Soaking Experience: see above. In general the soaks are good.

Overall Impression: very good, certainly well worth the label of being one of Thailand's best hot springs.

More info
  • From
    'Fang Hot Spring
    The Fang Hot Springs are located at Ban Pin in Fang district, 163 km north of Chiang Mai city along the Chiang Mai Tha Ton Road (Highway No. 107). Turn left at km 153 for 11 km to Ban Pin.
    Fifty hot springs occupy a ten-acre forest setting. Three boil continuously with a strong smell of sulphur. Water temperatures at the springs range from 90° C to 100° C. Unfortunately, the ambience of the area is slightly spoiled by the pipes that have been placed to take off the hot water to feed the nearby geothermal power station'.
  • Concerning the geothermal station, in 'Case stories of small scale geothermal power plants' by Daniel N Schochet (2000) a presentation at the 'World Geothermal Congress' in 2000, the following refers to Fang:

    'The Fang geothermal resource, located in a rural agricultural setting near Chang Mai in north central Thailand, utilizes three free flowing wells producing approximately 500 liters/minute of hot water at 116 C. One binary OEC module, rated at 300 kW was installed in 1989 (See Figure 7). The OEC condenser is water cooled by a once through flow of river water. The project produces between 150 and 250 kW, with seasonal variations, with excess heat used for cold storage, crop drying and a spa. (Forte 1989)'.


  1. One of most helpful write-ups on Fang I've found! Thank you!

  2. I'm curious -- How do you reconcile copyrighting everything on your website while simultaneously authoring a site at soakingspiritdottumblrdotcom that is constructed entirely of content scraped from other peoples' personal websites?

  3. Hmmm, good point.
    The one big difference I see is that this site relies on text (and to a lesser degree on my own photographic material), while soaking spirit has no or hardly any original text, other than the reference to where the photo was found with subtitle;
    tumblr (in general) is actually one huge heap of 'scraped together'. But even there I clearly state that the pictures posted are from another site.


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