Cheap Trek to Thi Lo Su Falls- Umphang, Thailand

Tee Sor Lo falls Umphang Thailand
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Thi Lo Su falls is the sixth biggest waterfall in the world, so it’s pretty amazing that in order to reach it during most seasons, you must take a 4×4 on terribly flooded, muddy roads for hours just to make the 1.5 km hike from the park gates. It’s often nearly impossible to do the trek without a trekking company, as was the case when Allie and I decided to get off Thailand’s beaten path and head to Umphang.

Options for the trek usually include rafting, trekking or elephant riding (very bad, DO NOT RIDE ELEPHANTS), and an overnight stay in a Karen Village (a Burmese ethnic group that has migrated many of their tribes to Thailand). Most agencies will tell you that this is only doable in 3 days, and that to do it in 2 days would be extremely difficult. However, we did it in 2 days and while it was tough, I’ve done much harder treks that I’ve been told were easy! Remember, Thai people can be very lazy!

After visiting a number of agencies, we inadvertently stumbled upon Umphang House, a hostel that also does treks. For 2,500 baht, we got the whole package (minus elephant riding, this is a no-no!) and did it in 2 days, not 3!

We started off the first day around 9 am with the rafting section. Having just finished  whitewater rafting on the Pai River, this was a joke. We were not given life jackets nor helmets nor paddles. We just relaxed in the raft for three hours (plus a 20 minute break to lounge in hot springs) while two guides gently paddled us down the river. Although there really were no rapids, it was easily the most beautiful rafting I have ever done. The river was lined with waterfalls and mist, and although we did get poured on for about an hour, afterwards we saw tons of tropical birds including my favorite, the kingfisher, and even heard the occasional gibbon call.

At the end of our float, we had lunch in a small park and then got picked up by a 4×4 truck where we rode in the back for a very painful hour along the deep mud “road.” I hopped off the truck with an achy back and tailbone and we started the short hike to the falls. I know I use the descriptor a lot, but they were breathtaking. My photos really don’t do Thi Lo Su justice at all, but here are a few:Thi Lo Su falls Umphang Thailand Thi Lo Su falls Umphang Thailand Thi Lo Su falls Umphang Thailand

We hiked around the falls to the different levels and swam in a few. The water was cold but refreshing. After about two hours, we were called back by our guide to start the long and exhausting trek to the Karen Village.

Thi Lo Su falls Umphang Thailand
Nice shot from the 3 hour trek

I will write a full article about our night in the village, but we had a blast. With thighs burning, we were greeted at the entrance by kids laughing at the river and motioning for us to come play.

So we set our things down and began to play soccer and throw paper airplanes. The kids also loved seeing their pictures on our camera, so here are a few of the many great shots we have!IMG_3066IMG_3071

We spent the night relaxing on the porch of the bamboo hut in which we would sleep. After making A TON of great Thai food for us, our guide ran next door and bought some “happy water,” homemade banana moonshine, and rolled up some Thai tobacco. We sat back taking shots of happy water with dinner, and although I’m not a smoker, I have to say that laying on that bamboo floor under some truly kick ass stars and smoking fresh Thai tobacco with a good amount of moonshine warming my belly was truly serene.IMG_3074

The next morning we slept in and then headed out for another, even tougher 3 hour trek to the pickup spot. It was hot and buggy and mostly uphill. But it was also the deepest into the jungle that I had been thus far, so it was pretty cool as well.

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12 responses to “Cheap Trek to Thi Lo Su Falls- Umphang, Thailand”

  1. Carl Nissen says:

    Awesome pics! Why are elephants a no-no?

    • says:

      Elephants go through a very harsh "breaking of the spirit" process in order to be able to be ridden by people. And the elephant masters carry large machetes that they dig into the elephants in order to steer them when tourists are aboard. I'm glad that you are enjoying the blog so much, thanks for all the feedback! I plan to write an article about elephant riding soon too!

    • Cindy says:

      I find it offensive that you catagorize Thai people as all "lazy". Beside the fact that it is stereo-typical and judgmental, it makes it difficult to think your interpretation of your trek has much merit. I have been working with Thai people for many years. If you call it lazy to own and work a restaurant that is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner than your arrogance is beyond reproach.

      • Cindy, I never said "all" Thai people are lazy and I am sorry if I came across that way. I ammended the sentence that offended you and I am sorry that it did. I was simply speaking in terms of trekking, as this is an adventure travel blog. At the end of the day, my interpretation of my trek is simply my interpretation of my trek. The only merit that it claims is just that. I love Thai people and their culture more than I have ever loved another culture, trust me I am no enemy to you or the amazing people that you work with! Thank you for your activity on the site, I hope that you will subscribe and continue to read No Strings Travel, we have many adventures ahead and we hope that you do too!

  2. Kayo says:

    I am planning to trek in Umphang as well, but I only have short time to stay. Do you know any company offer 3 day 2 night tour to Umphang? As I can only find 3 nights tour which the schedule may be too tight for me. Hope you can help, thanks!

  3. Marie says:

    I’m interested to do this trekking.
    I’m traveling by myself and many tour are private so I can’t do it because I’m alone.
    Could you give me the name of your agency please ?
    Thank si a lot

    • Nate Wolf says:

      Marie, I recommend that you go to Umphang and talk to the various agencies in person. Your best bet is to visit all of the different tour agencies and see if they have space in their groups. When I did it, I was with my girlfriend and we got paired up with two other people that we did not know in order to fill the group. Speaking to the agencies in person is what I recommend.

  4. eline says:

    Hi there, do you have any contact details of Umphang House, the guest house with whom you've booked your trekking? I can't seem to find them online. I can't seem to find any tour operators or agencies to contact in Umphang or are they all hostel or guest house owners?

    • Nate Wolf says:

      Hi Eline! Unfortunately we just found the guest house by showing up in town and walking around for a while looking for a place to stay. Umphang is a very small town that does not see a lot of tourism, so booking ahead online may not be possible.

  5. Alyssa says:

    hello, how did you get to and from umphang? we were wondering if it was possible to go from chiang mai to umphang and then from umphang to kanchanaburi via bus. we were also wondering if it were possible to do all of this within 4 days (travelling and the trek)

    • Nate Wolf says:

      Hey Alyssa! I hope I'm not too late getting back to you! We had to travel first to Mae Sot by bus. We stayed a night there and then caught an early morning Songthaew (pickup truck with a carriage cover over the bed). The only way to get out of Umphang is to go back to Mae Sot. Umphang is super off-the-beaten path. We only saw two other tourists the whole time that we were there. But that made it one of our favorite stops in all of Thailand! You definitely need to see the huge cave there too! Even if it was possible to do all of this in 4 days, I really think that you will want to spend at least 4 days just in Umphang! Traveling there and back from anywhere in Thailand is going to take at least two full days, so I do not think trying to do it all in 4 is worth it. Feel free to email me at for more help and quicker responses! Have an amazing time!

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