Tuesday, October 19, 2010


The trail
One of Thailand's better known hot springs is the hot spring of Mae Kasa, located at the foot of the mountains separating Mae Sot district from the rest of central Thailand's Tak province.

Despite it's prominence there is still some difficulties in finding the soak site. First one steers up the highway 105 to the north of Mae Sot until km 13/14 where one goes through a big gate and then continues onwards to the village of Mae Kasa, 7 km's away.

In the village directions to the hot spring stop and one needs to find one's own way to the other side of the village where the road continues.
The hot spring is located about a km out of the village. The main site is down a dirt road on your left, though there are some springs visible on the right but these are for some reason off-limits, there's a big fence around them. Driving down the dirt road one comes to a rudimentary parking below a dam which seems to dam the adjacent stream to create a lake for ecstatic (?) reasons.

Are those eggs boiled yet?

From the parking area one can see what's the highlight of this soak site, a bubbling hot spring which one can walk around. Two girls are trying to boil eggs directly in the spring; as it transpires the only springs related activity on offer.

We gather our soaking stuff and confidently walk up to the surrounding buildings, seeing that there was a large pond empty. Unfortunately whatever the purpose was of these buildings, they are now in open season for vandals and miscreants to plunder and spoil. There is no way to soak at this hot spring!

Possibly sometime last century this was the soak site ...

And that seems to contrast with the vibrant feeling of the direct hot spring site. There are about 2 dozen other visitors who are all hanging out at the shops / bars surrounding the parking area. Possibly this is the best place to relax in this area?

The cave? Waterfall?

Somewhere I read something about there being a waterfall and because of the lay of the land, it has to be upstream. We climbed up the side of the dam to see the recently dammed lake. There's a makeshift temple on an island in the center which can be reached by a rickety swing bridge.

Beyond the temple is more parking place and a surprisingly well maintained track, well for 5 meters that is. After that deterioration sets in and the couple of bridges across the dry stream have all been set alight some time in the past, I seem to be getting an idea about what kinds of past-time are hot here.

Halfway up a very steep track we give up, it doesn't seem to be leading anywhere and is not used often anymore.

I later learn that one could continue onwards to a mouth of a cave over which a small stream falls, but seeing there's no stream there's also no waterfall or is that such a weird idea?

Andy Daniels adds
'After looking around at the cool hot springs area I decided to walk up a trail/staircase that went up to a budhist cave. The trail was long and pretty steap. After talking to my dad, who called me while on the trail, I continued to walk and a guide with some monks said he could show me the cave for 300B or else it was locked closed. I told him I would not pay that and would just see what I could see. Thats what I did, the cave was pretty cool but I didn't go too far in, and was happy with what I saw'.
No waterfall even though websites such as
wikitravel proclaim the following:
'This large waterfall is located in Tambon Mae Kasa. There is a path leading the way up to a high mountain. A cave in front of the waterfall has a 5 m wide stream of water which serves as an entrance to the waterfall'.
Thailandcaves adds that there are
'... over 850 steps to ascend to entrance, but the cave is impressive. A series of large chambers descend steeply to a large passage which leads to a pool of water where the tour stops. Wading the shallow pool gices access to around 100m of muddy passage that eventually chokes'.
There are also a number of photo's of the cave. But none of the waterfall ...

Other experiences

The official
wikitravel entry (undated) on Mae Kasa hot springs goes as follows:
'This hot well of 2 m wide is located in Tambon Mae Kasa, right in the village. Hot and cool streams flow to meet at this well. Visitors can smell sulphur throughout the village and see slight vapour just above the ground. At an edge of the well, the water is easily seen boiling and its temperature is fairly high. A private room for mineral bathing is available. The village is amidst the beauty of nature encompassed by a high mountain and farming land'.
Andy Daniels recounts from last year:
'The hot spings where a bunch of wells with artesian (flowing water) hot water coming out. Mineral deposits had formed around the wells, there were maybe 4 total and some places where the water was just coming out of the ground. The water was too hot to soak and there were not many good pools. The only good pool was in direct sunlight and it was the middle of the day so I didn't soak. There was a park area around one of the well things that had grass and some food venders. It looked like they were working to build the hot spings up more, there was also a large sized pool that was not filled with water, and some privat rooms with little tile tubs that did not look maintained'.
Bangyai was more lucky and witnessed real soakers in the now empty pond:
'As hot springs go, nothing special but there were a few people there splashing around and boiling their eggs. I didn't fancy boiling my eggs so we hit the road again heading north for Mae Sariang'.
And elsewhere near Mae Sot
Mae Sot is very much the main town in this area. Previously this Soaking in Siam has highlighted hot springs in Umphang (due south of Mae Sot), however there is also a hot spring in Phop Phra district to the south of Mae Sot.

A couple of maps indicate there being another less well-known hot spring,
Huai Numnak hot spring, also known as Pha Charoen hot spring which refers to the national park in which it is located (link to website with mention of hot spring).

Andy Daniels has also visited this hot spring which can be accessed by taking highway 1206 from the district headquarters itself. He describes his trip as follows:
'It was out in the middle of no where with no signed but I was able to find it after I passed it once and came back. It was large holes with really hot water, and completely natural. There was a woman in the house nearby that couldn't speak any english but was very nice, and was grinding rice separating the grain from the plant casing. I tried to soak my feet in some smaller concrete tubs near the source but they were too hot, I think the locals use them too cook eggs, that seems to be the main thing locals use the hot water for. Also the lady in the house had hot springs water piped to her house. She could tell I wanted to soak somewhere since I came all the way out there so she showed me where they clean dishes and I took one of the tubs they used to wash dished and soaked my feet, even then I had to let the water cool off for a while'.
So that's why I didn't bother heading there ...

Andy's photo of Huai Namnuk hot spring. Another photo can be found here.

Getting there: From Mae Sot take highway 105 north until just beyond km 13. Take the road to the east and continue until the road sort of ends in Mae Kasa village. Try following the most used road and you'll emerge on the other side of the village nearer the mountains. The hot spring is only a km away, below a dam.

Soaking Experience
: Zilch!

Overall impression
: Underwhelming.

A natural spring at Mae Kasa.

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