Beautiful day trip down the Mae Wang an hour drive south of Chiang Mai. 10 river Kms. Drove to Elephant camps in the national park, put in below cable bridge that leads to Eco-Lodge. First 4 kms are fairly flat then 5 kms of whitewater through rock gardens. Class II-III+ of continuous rapids. Beautiful forest and river. Some strainers, drop offs, 3 foot falls, obstructed passages. Scouted half a dozen spots because of blind spots and portaged a couple of places. No take outs for 5 kms. Take out at dam/spillway. Water level was dropping in January. River could be a challenge at high water. Hitched a ride back to the car.
I paddled the Mae Wang river 3 times while staying a month in Chiang Mai in Jan/Feb 2014. Water level was dropping fast each week I went back. It made for a different run every time. Water was quite low early Feb and I dragged in a few spots. Watch out for bamboo strainers.
You can add river time by launching from the bridge just north of the village north of the Elephant camp some 6kms up river. It is flat water with some class I. Locals operate bamboo rafting trips down this section and weekenders get drunk while floating down river. You then would continue down river after the Elephant camp.
There is an eco resort across the river from the elephant camp, the Chia Lai Orchid resort. Great to base yourself for a night, paddle with the elephants bathing in the river (which we did on an another 2 occasions with or 2 year old she loved it), go for some hikes and paddle down the river from the resort.
The Mae Wang must get pretty wild at high water so careful
Starting in early August of 2013 I started keeping track of the difficulty of running the Mae Wang section you mentioned in your post. We now call that stretch Lost Canyon since it had been unused for years as far as I can tell. After making a take out trail on the left 30 meters above the dam. I made 3 runs through Lost Canyon in a NRS Outlaw inflatable kayak in early November and December. The first run was at a substantially higher water level than the last one. More information on paddling the Mae Wang River near Chiang Mai Thailand. See map, photos and further information on rapids at different times of the year. http://www.swissticino.com/page29lostcanyonmap.html
There is a shortage of self equipped class 3 or above paddlers here in Chiang Mai, Thailand. At 65 I am too old to paddle these rivers alone. This is a very nice 1 to 4 hour paddle with paved road to the put in and take out. Directly below the take out is Swiss Ticino’s heavenly Italian food, Continental food, fresh coffee, touring bicycles and comfortable rooms. Bring your pack raft, C1, Inflatable kayak, hard shell kayak or whatever you feel like paddling. This is way too good to last! Please contact Bad Water Bob at my non commercial web site http://www.lostcanyonkayaks.com/ for information and photos of this and other very paddle-able small rivers around Chiang Mai and take me with you! Are we having any fun? Take a look http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJ9QL8aovWk and my other videos about the Chiang Mai area.
Bad Water Bob
PS A great time to visit Thailand is during a coup like the one we are having now. There are far less tourists, prices are low and space is available without a reservation. It’s almost like it used to be!
Chiang Mai, the fifth largest city of Thailand which is unequivocally famous for its lush green lawns, magnificent mountains and spectacular looking plains. Situated on a wondrous plain at the altitude of 316 m, it is more serene and green then the capital of Thailand. You would be landing on Chang Mai International Airport if you are coming from an airplane.