Trip Report: Rafting and Kayaking in Thailand
I recently traveled to Thailand and looked into rafting and Kayaking there. There are two rivers that are typically run commercially in Thailand and a few others that are run less regularly. They are all in the North of Thailand.
The rivers all depend on rain which happens in July through October here. So that is high water and the flow tapers off after that. The rivers may be runnable from April through as late as March depending on rain.
Mae Tang River
Difficulty: III - IV. At high water in August in may be Class V. Creeky at low water in December when I ran it.
Length: 6 miles (Some companies do less and skip the "middle" which is most of the whitewater)
Location: 2 hour drive North of Chiang Mai
Outfitter: Siam River Adventures
Middle Pai River
Length: 37 miles
Location: 1 hour drive from Pai, Thailand. Tour operators will also offer transport from Chiang Mai to Pai.
Outfitter: Thailand Adventure Rafting
Nam Wa, 2 hour from Nan, 5 day trip. Class III.
Mae Kok, 2 hour drive from Chiang Rai
I ran the Mae Taeng. It was actually more exciting than I expected! I went with Siam Rivers which has an office in Chiang Mai. I paid them $US 55 to borrow a boat, I had most of my gear already in Thailand. With gear the cost would have been $US 68. They also gave me a kayaking buddy, Tom. Tom grew up near put in and started kayaking with the company when he was younger.
They picked me up from my hotel in the morning around 9 am along with 6 other rafters. As soon as we got to Put In they outfitted me with a boat I got a Wave Sport Diesel. We had about 2 miles of flatwater with one class III drop. Then we got to the "middle" which lasted about a mile. Six rapids mostly with pools in between. At this flow the rapids were very creeky. I would call it class IV because of that. We scouted the last rapids and boat scouted the rest. The 2 rafts caught up to us around the last rapid and had exciting runs. The exit had was a tight slot which one of the rafts got sideways in and flipped.
This was followed by three miles of Class II. This included seeing lots of elephants along the river! We got back to Chiang Mai around 4 pm.
It was a great trip. If I could do it again I would have tried to do 2 runs, I think it would have been easy to fit it in, maybe even by the time the rafters finished one run if I skipped lunch. Or, maybe just do the "middle" on the second run. The shuttle is easy, road is along the river the whole run.
Another option would be to stay at the camp at Put-in for a few days of running the section. There was a beginner kayaker staying there for a week when we were there.
Hope this helps you find some whitewater and your next visit to Thailand!