Fang / Thailand




District and town of Fang lie in the very north of Thailand and are part of the Golden Triangle. It's part of Chiang Mai Province. The area is mountainous and sometimes called the Thai Highlands; Fang itself lies on an altitude of about 655m above sea level. The place lies along Fang River, a tributory of Kok River, who runs via Chiang Rai into the mighty Mekong River at Chiang Saen.

'Shan Temple | Fang' by Asienreisender

Wat Shan, apparently a Burmese styled Buddhist temple. Image by Asienreisender, 10/2011

Following old chronicles, Mueang Fang was founded in 641 CE by king Lawa Changkarat, what sound's pretty Mon. Later it came to the newly founded kingdom of Lanna in the time of king Mangrai. According to old sources, king Mangrai developed his plan to overtake the neighbouring Dvaravati city state of Hariphunchai (Lamphun) here.

Fang became an important trade center and a bastion against invading Burmese armees. However, as all of Lanna, also Fang was conquered by Burmese troops and remained under Burmese control until around 1770, when king Taksin conquered it.

'Fang Downtown' by Asienreisender

Fang downtown at dusk. Road 107 from Chiang Mai leads through Fang center and coins the place very much. Image by Asienreisender, 1/2011

In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Fang had a reputation of being a hotspot in drug and arms trade. However, the Thai government undertook efforts to replace drug production (opium) by making it more attractive to grow alternative crops. Also tourism plays a certain role nowadays, although a not too big one. As a Western visitor it can easily be one does not see another Westerner in town for a day or two.

The lowlands in the wider valley, which stretches far to the north and the south, are now coined by plantation economies. Particularly fruits are produced here, many orange plantations are in the wider surroundings. The formerly natural habitats have changed into poor monocultures who need a lot of energy and chemistry to produce their crops.

Despite a relatively rich history, Fang does not have much of historical buildings or other traces left. There is a rudimentary fortification and a well in which, at least allegedly, legendary king Udom Sin and his wife jumped into to escape prisonship by an approaching Burmese army.

The Mountains West of Fang
'Fang, View to the West from Downtown' by Asienreisender

Directly west of the main road 107 it looks so. One can see the mountains of Daen Lao Range. Image by Asienreisender, 1/2011


Fang's Surroundings

Fang District is bordering Burma/Myanmar in the west. Much of this mountainous area is part of Doi Phahom Pok National Park. The whole park has an extension of 524km2. Doi Phahom Pok is the second highest mountain in Thailand, with an altitude of 2,285m. The natural surroundings here are very picturesque, large forests with many seldom plants and animals, although natural destruction, as everywhere on earth, happens also here.

Fang's Hot Springs
'The Hot Springs around Fang' by Asienreisender

A geyser is pressing hot water high up into the air. Image by Asienreisender, 1/2011

The higher altitudes come with a cooler climate than it is in the central or southern parts of Thailand. The forests are not exactly tropical rainforest anymore, but, due to the moderate climate, a mixture of evergreen rainforest, mountain forests with pine trees and other trees who are home in rather norther regions. In the past there was also much teak growing here, but the logging industries did a great harm to them. The same is true for the precious ironwood (Hopea odorata), and poaching, illegal logging and arson happens in the dry season practically every day.

The national park is part of the large Daen Lao Range, a mountain range which stretches over most of it's parts in the Shan hills in Burma/Myanmar up to the border region to China.

There are also some caves and waterfalls in Fang's surroundings. Most remarkable seems to be, appart from climbing Mount Phahom Pok, the hot springs a few kilometers west of town. The hot springs are pretty touristic and the area around is equipped with a number of touristic facilities, as for example a visitor center and a camping ground.

Doi Phu Mueng
'Doi Phu Mueng | Fang' by Asienreisender

The mountains of Fang, here at Doi Phu Mueng, a tribal village inhabited by Red Lisu People. Doi Phahom Pok, the second highest peak of Thailand, is merely a two or three hours track from here. Image by Asienreisender, 1/2011