Before the Sukhothai period, the region was inhabited by the Mon, a Burmese ethnic minority, who settled at Ban Tak, about 20 km north of today's Tak. Later the area was an important western gateway of the Sukhothai Kingdom.
Various "the greats" had their armies based in the region and are so associated with Tak: King Ramkhamhaeng the Great, King Naresuan the Great, King Narai the Great, and King Taksin the Great.
In the early nineteenth century, King Rama II moved Tak from the right to the left bank of the Ping River. This established the current Tak as a distinct place from the older town (today's Ban Tak).
The region's mountains and forests contain many national parks, such as Taksin Maharat National Park, Mae Moei National Park, Lan Sang National Park, and Namtok Pha Charoen National Park, and various waterfalls. The grandest are Namtok Thi Lo Su and Namtok Thi Lo Re. They attract tourists and whitewater enthusiasts.
The only transport connections are by bus. There is no airport, The nearest airport is in Mae Sot, the next closest - along with the closest train station are both in Phitsanulok, about 80 km away.
From Bangkok, take Hwy 1 (Phahonyothin Rd) and switch to Hwy 32 (Asian Highway). Drive through Pratu Nam Phra-in, Phra Nakhon S.i Ayutthaya, Ang Thong, Sing Buri, and Chai Nat. After arriving in Nakhon Sawan, turn left to Hwy 1. Travel through Kamphaeng Phet and head for Tak. The total distance is 426 km and takes around 5 hours.
Buses leave Bangkok's Mo Chit or northern terminal regularly and shouldn't cost more than 300 baht for an air conditioned bus. The journey should take about 7 hours, but allow for longer. From the bus stop it's about a 10 min walk to town centre and about 20 min to Viang Tak. At night, take a samlor to avoid Tak's aggressive feral dogs.
The Transport Company Limited offers daily bus service between Bangkok and Tak between 05:30–13:00 and 16:30–22:00, and between Bangkok and Mae Sot between 08:00–19:00. For further information, contact the Bangkok (Northern) Bus Terminal (Chatuchak) or Mo Chit Mai, Tel. +66 2 9362852–66, or visit their website. For a private bus between Bangkok and Tak between 09:30–22:00, and between Bangkok and Mae Sot at 22:00, contact Than Chit Tour, Tel. +66 55 511307 or Bangkok office Tel. +66 2 9363210–13. For service between Bangkok and Tak between 12:30–22:00, and between Bangkok and Mae Sot at 22:15, contact Choet Chai Tour, Tel. +66 55 511054, +66 55511057 or Bangkok office Tel. +66 2 9360199.
There is no direct flight to Tak. Nok Air offers flights between Bangkok (DMK) and Phitsanulok (PHS). From Phitsanulok, take a bus to Tak.
The Transport Company Limited and private operators offer air conditioned and ordinary bus services between Mae Sot (Tak) to Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Sawan, Phitsanulok, Lom Sak (Phetchabun), Lampang, Phayao, Chiang Mai, Mae Sai (Chiang Rai), Chum Phae (Khon Kaen), and Bo Rai (Chanthaburi). For further information, contact the Tak Provincial Bus Terminal, Tel. +66 55 511057; Mae Sot Bus Terminal, Tel. +66 55 532949; or Thai Phatthanakit Khonsong Company on Intharakhiri Rd, Mae Sot, servicing Mae Sot–Chiang Rai–Mae Sai, Tel. +66 55 532331.
Tuk-tuks can be picked up at the bus station and are reasonably priced.
Rental vehicles, including motorbikes, are non-existent. The town centre is not very big and you can easily walk around it in less than an hour. There are some samlors which hang out at the various 7-Elevens. Your accommodation's staff will likely be able to advise you. When travelling at night, other than along the riverside, be careful of stray dogs.
Tak province has some beautiful waterfalls, including Thailand's largest, the magnificent Thi Lo Su in Umphang. There is a pretty cool hilltribe market on the way to Mae Sot.
While this fairly uninspiring Thai town is out-classed by it natural surroundings, its one saving grace, the riverside, is particularly pleasant at sunset when the evening stalls emerge.
Wat See Tarra Rahm offers a Thai massage that costs around 100 baht, and a hot herbal body scrub for 50 baht. There are yoga classes every week night from 17:00. It costs 5 baht.
There are many morning, afternoon, evening, and night markets, the pick of which is the Thursday night market. It's slightly out of town past Phadungpanya School and so a samlor may be a good idea.
Tak is full of street vendors, though quality is hit and miss. The fried chicken (gai tawt) opposite Video Ezy is good, as are some of the stalls in the afternoon market one or two streets back from the river.
Viang Tak and the other big hotel have dark, loud and charmless drinking holes; and in a conservative backwater like Tak, dark, loud and charmless drinking is not fun. The most pleasant drinking is to be had by the river with something picked up from the 7-Eleven.
|Routes through Tak|
|Chiang Rai ← Lampang ←||N S||→ Kamphaeng Phet → Bangkok|