Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Pong Phra Bat: your local soak

Another 'unknown' hot springs, at least if you let internet be your guide. But Pong Phra Bat Hot Springs are certainly worth a visit, especially combined with the waterfall (with the same name) at the end of the road.

The hot water fountain, the pubic bath behind it

Pong Phra Bat Hot Springs (or alternatively Poang Phra Baht) are quite conveniently located, just north of Chiang Rai town's airport on a side road from the main highway north to Mae Sai which is located at the Burmese border. The trouble is you'll pass it, if you can't read Thai. But after locating the hot springs (the entrance is in a sharp right hand corner, close to local administration buildings), you'll probably fail to be impressed by the site (which is hardly natural nor 'park like') or the facilities consisting of two bathing buildings (one with a restaurant) and a small, roofed but not walled in, public swimming pool. And a fountain next to the parking area which signifies the springs; though hot water is bubbling up at various locations around the buildings. Between the two bathing buildings a stream passes which becomes warmer as it passes through the site.

The main bathing building, with restaurant

So if not impressed, why pay it a visit? Simply because developers have failed to take over the place; this way it keeps it's local charm, or it's appeal to the locals, who turn up every evening to soak for a half hour (privately for 20THB, in the public pool for 10 THB), then catch a bite, drink and go back home. As it is located between well-cultivated farmland, the locals (some farmers, but mostly workers from Chiang Rai) keep the springs going. If prices went up or up-scale facilities built, the locals probably would not come anymore and the situation would deteriorate soon after. Or, it would become a yuppy hideaway, now who wants that?


Getting There:
Take highway 1 north out of Chiang Rai, to the first village (Bandu) / turn off, past the airport. Take the access road along the highway and turn to your left, drive up this road for a km or so until you have a sharp right hand turn. Instead drive through the gate straight ahead of you with the pond on your left. For the Pong Phra Bat waterfall just continue on the paved road for another 5 km's until you come to the end parking. From there it's a 20 minute walk. No entrance fee required!

Soaking Experience: Again if you're willing to sign up for the cell-tub experience that's what you get. But if you remind yourself to take your swimmers with you (we forgot) you can enjoy the public pool, which at least gives you the opportunity to look around and breath fresh air.

The second bathing building has bigger cells, but the size of the baths remains more or less the same

Overall Impression: Not excellent, but above average: you want a neat soak, that's what you can get, followed by a bite. Quite literally, experience 'unseen Thailand'. And to make it more worthwhile visit the falls as well, to get some exercise.

Some additional (cryptic) information on Pong Phra Bat waterfall from the Thai National Park Authority:

'Pong Phra Bat waterfall: 14 kms far from the city of Chiangrai in the north along highway number 110 (Chiangrai-Mae Chan). An islet waterfall with the milky fluffy spray when fall down and clear water in the pleasant atmosphere which is encircling with the abundant of plants for relaxing. And enjoying the beauty of the nature'.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for the information about Pong Phra Bat hot springs,sounds like just what i am loking for after my travels around Laos.

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  2. Excellent post! I paid a visit in early Nov 2013 and it's hardly changed in the last 6 years, a lovely little rustic spa! I combined it with a visit to Pong Phra Bat Waterfall at Lam Nam Kok National Park and the nearby Black House (Baan Dam) to make a full day out in the area.

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  3. If I look up recent info, it seems to be open. Hope that answers your query ...

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  4. Yes indeed we wereld thee Today 20 of Februari and it was open with only little water.

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    Replies
    1. Thailand is experiencing one of their severest droughts in a generation ....

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