Thaton is between Mae Ai and Mae Chan in northern Chiang Mai Province. It is a town on the banks of the Kok River. It has a relaxed atmosphere, and some people hang out for a few days or weeks. There are a small number expats as permanent residents. There are a number of guesthouses along the banks of the river and more in the town. The picturesque views from Thaton hill and the banks of the river, and a small town feel combine to make this a nice place to hang out.
Thaton is on Rte 1089 between Fang and Mae Chan. The distance to Chiang Mai is about 214 km by road and takes about 4 hours, but with some excellent scenery along the way. Chiang Rai is 108 km away, Fang 25 km, and Mae Ai, 10 km. Thaton is so small it does not appear on many road maps.
You can take the boat from Thaton to Chiang Rai, which takes about 3 hours. There is a government boat at 12:30 that costs 400 baht each for a minimum 4 people.
You can also charter private boats. The initial asking price is 2500-1700 Baht, but that could probably be bargained lower.
From Chiang Rai to Thaton is an upriver trip, and takes about 5 hours.
The bus station is near the bridge. Buses depart from/to Chang Phuak Bus Station in Chiang Mai several times a day with the journey taking 3-4 hours (prices are around 90 baht). The buses are usually easily identifiable with English information on them. Buses to Chiang Rai and Bangkok also run, albeit less frequently, a journey to Chiang Rai takes a couple of hours and to Bangkok about 12 hours (890 km). In May 2012 there was only one bus to Chang Rai that left at 15:00 and you had to change in Mae Chan.
Thaton can easily be explored on foot and bicycle. A songthaew can easily be hired if you need to travel out of the village.
- Wat Thaton (วัดท่าตอน), ☎+66 53 053609. A large monastery bordering the village, it occupies an area of more than 160 acres on a number of hills. There are nine stations to visit for Buddhist pilgrims. Each station has something on it to visit, such a big Buddha image or a stupa. Level 4 has a meditation centre, where they teach Vipassana meditation. Support for English is not supported though foreigners are welcome if they can speak and understand Thai, or come with people who can translate. Also, Nov-Jan is when there are few people at the temple and meditaters are discouraged from attending at this time. Level 8 is a very large chedi and several statues. Level 9 is two kilometres from level 8, on a paved footpath the forest with a large standing Buddha at the end of the path. The temple complex is on the bank of the Mae Nam Kok (Kok River) and offers beautiful scenery. The temple also houses a school for monks, novices, and youths as well as a drug rehabilitation centre and a hill tribe support unit.