Thaton is a subdistrict (tambon) of Mae Ai district in the far north of Chiang Mai Province in Thailand. The town is situated on the Kok River near the border with Myanmar, about a three-hour drive north of the city of Chiang Mai. The central village of the subdistrict is Ban Tha Ton.


The river forms part of the border and consequently the village has changed hands numerous times in the turbulent history of the area, with the latest change happening in the early 20th century when the border was moved two miles upstream, leaving the north bank, previously part of Burma (Myanmar), to Thailand. This part of Thaton, known in Thai as Ban Rom Thai, is inhabited by the Shan ethnic group. The area around Thaton is populated by various hill tribes including Yao, Lisu, Lahu, Karen and Akha. Thaton is also home to Chinese nationalists forced to further flee from their home-in-exile after the coup in Burma.


Thaton is located on the widely-travelled tourist route between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Since the 1970s, riverboat trips between Chiang Rai and Thaton have given foreign tourists as well as native Thais the opportunity to visit remote jungles, observe different ethnic groups, and see the Fang Plain, bringing a welcome influx of capital into the local economy. In the 1980s, this trend continued with the building of several small resorts to accommodate tourists.

Wat Thaton

The village is overlooked by a striking hilltop Buddhist temple known as Wat Tha Ton. The temple complex includes four huge statues of the Buddha, two in typical Thai style and two showing Chinese influence. One of these, the Standing Buddha, is over 35 feet tall.

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