Sunday, November 3, 2013


Back in 2009 I went to some lengths to find out what would be possibly be the most popular Thai hot springs. Now, considerably overdue, a new overview.

In the interceding years however, there have been some shifts in measuring popularity. I've settled on a mix of google, bing, flickr, google blog, tripadvisor, youtube and instagram as the basis for measuring popularity. 

The following is the line up, with in the brackets are the positions of 4 years back:

1. Sankampaeng, Chiang Mai (3) 
2. Tha Pai, Mae Hong Son (1) 
3. Hin Dad, Khanchanaburi (5) 
4. Fang, Chiang Mai (2) 
5. Klong Thom, Krabi (10) 
6. Phabong, Mae Hong Son (8) 
7. Betong, Yala (4) 
8. Raksawarin, Ranong (-) 
9. Pong Duet, Chiang Mai (8) 
10. Phasoet, Chiang Rai (-)

Pai hot spring, a find from instagram

Between the numbers
Notable in the above list are not necesarily the small changes, but the advance of Krabi's no. 1 hot spring. Certainly in the perspective that the used sources were unlimited in time, meaning that past references remain. So for major changes to take place this implies a huge increase in popularity.

What can't be read are the differences between the toppers? The first 4 are close to each other. Number 5 is in a class of it's own, while the remaining 5 are again quite close to each other.

Phra Ruang hot spring (Kampaeng Phet) is now no. 11 while 4 years ago it was seventh.

Top Thai
I also did some research into Thai language sites, using google image search, limiting myself to finds of the last year. Out of the roughly 200 recognised photo's most were from Sankampaeng with Fang hot springs a good second. Others which were often mentioned were Hin Dad, Chaeson (Lampang) and Wiang Pa Pao (Chiang Rai). 

Significantly absent were the hot springs of Pai and Klong Thom, which are very popular with foreign travellers, as well as a long trip to reach for the bangkok middle class.

On the other hand Wiang Pa Pao is a busy intersection between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai (another far away town), an ideal car/bus stop with the obligatory photo. So we might have to notice a cultural rift ...
Another particularity is the emphasis of Thai hot springs affecionado's for aesthetics. Of the first 100 photo's from the last 12 months, very few contain pictures of soakers themselves (two to be precise). In English the same search notches 12 photo's of soaking. Begs the questions: are Thai more shy? Is soaking more foreign?

With the exception of Hin Dad, the other four prominent hot springs are featured for their photographic value, the ability to make a selfie. 

Finally, whereas in English many findings concern soaaks on the tourist trail, in Thai there is a much broader number of different hot springs in the results, some surprisingly little well-known.

And what does this top 10 add to our knowledge? 
Not much, my favourite Porn Rang (Ranong, below) is way behind and there are still many nice and unseen soaks to be discovered in Thailand!

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