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traditional Thai bamboo river rafting in Chiang Mai

Back to Nature: Traditional Thai Bamboo River Rafting in Chiang Mai

Day Drifters: Bamboo River Rafting in Chiang Mai

You don’t have to go far to go river rafting in Chiang Mai and find yourself in a different world. Gone are the scooters and the bustling people; instead you’ll find peace, quiet and miles of beautiful rivers just waiting to be explored. Taking a bamboo river rafting trip is a great way to get out into nature and see a very different side of Thailand. It’s just one of many exciting activities in Chiang Mai to add to your bucket list!

Bamboo river rafting may not be at the top of every traveler’s to-do list when they land in Chiang Mai, but believe us you don’t want to miss out! It’s a great chance to see the landscapes of northern Thailand up close, and with the rafting stations only being one hour’s drive from the city it’s a great choice for a day trip during your visit.

What to Expect On Your Bamboo Rafting Adventure

Imagine yourself drifting down a peaceful river, water buffalo grazing on the banks and local children splashing in the water. The sun is hot but the water is cool, and traditional Thai life unfolds before you. This is the magic of a bamboo river rafting trip from Chiang Mai!

The length of your river ride can go from a quick 15 minute experience to a full 5 hour epic – the choice is yours. Warning though – once you’ve started you won’t want to stop!

Riding the Thai Bamboo River Raft

If you’re picturing the rafts as large inflatable rigs with handholds and safety gear then think again, this isn’t an adrenaline sport. The rafts are about 25 feet long, made of huge lengths of bamboo which are lashed together with rope and rubber but don’t worry, you won’t be shooting any grade 5 rapids on these bad boys.

To start your trip, turn up to the rafting station and find a local guide who is keen to make a trip. The cost will vary depending on whether you want to steer the raft yourself. You might think that sounds like a cool adventure (and it is) but just make sure your abs are up to the job before you commit; there are plenty of rocks to navigate your way around and the river is quite shallow in places so keeping yourself going in the right direction can be harder than it looks!

Self-guided rafting starts from 300 baht and a guided raft starts from 500 baht, but each raft can carry up to 5 people. Bargain fun!

What to Bring When River Rafting in Chiang Mai

As always, the sun is baking hot in the north so pack sunscreen, a hat and plenty of water. Other than that all you really need is a swimsuit under some loose clothing, your camera and you’re good to go. Remember you’re on a river so you’re going to get wet- don’t bring that new iPhone you’re so proud of without putting it in a waterproof case!

Flip flops are useful to walk to the rafts from the road but are a major float risk once you’re on the river so make sure you keep them under control otherwise you’ll be hitting Zoe in Yellow barefoot later on our Chiang Mai Pub Crawl… ?

Make a Day Of It!

Even if you choose a multi-hour trip, you’ll still have time to sample some of the amazing food in the local restaurants that line the road on the way to the rafting station. You can make a bamboo rafting trip into an awesome day trip by setting out early, making several stops on the river for swimming and relaxing and then stopping for a great Pad Thai on the way home. Nice one!

Everything You Need to Know Before River Rafting in Chiang Mai

There are two ways to get to the rafting station at Mae Wang: an organized tour, or hiring a tuktuk ride. The first is arguably simpler but the second gives you more flexibility to design your day. We recommend grabbing a few buddies and club together to share the cost of a hire. To get to Mae Wang head south west out of Chiang Mai on route 108, then turn west at San Pa Thong and carry on for 10kms until you hit town.

You won’t regret a trip out to this part of the world. Grab a beer, grab a raft and look forward to a drift to remember. ?