Located in one of Thailand’s most remote and inaccessible provinces, the mighty Tee Lor Su (sometimes spelt as Thi Law Su / Thee Lor Sue / Thi Lo Su) is a spectacular waterfall in the western province of Tak. Situated close to the border with Burma / Myanmar, Tee Lor Su is in a district called Umphang. Although getting here may be a hassle, the journey is certainly worth it to witness what is often referred to as a miracle of nature!
Be inspired to add Tee Lor Su to your travel wish list with this handy information:
Getting to Umphang: A scenic mountain route
There is only one road into the small main village of Umphang. Converted pickup trucks, known in Thai as Songtaews, make several journeys each day to and from the district from Mae Sot, one of Tak’s major border towns. Mae Sot can be reached by bus from Bangkok and other parts of the country. Having your own vehicle is, however, strongly advised. After all, the scenic views along the route will certainly make you want to stop and admire them for longer!
The road between Mae Sot and Umphang is often referred to as the Sky Highway due to its high altitude through the towering mountains. The numerous twists and turns, combined with the road’s height, long drops, and blind bends make for an exhilarating journey. If you suffer from travel sickness, be prepared! Indeed, the road features no fewer than 1,219 curves along its 164 kilometre stretch!
Accessing Tee Lor Su by road
The dirt track to Tee Lor Su is incredibly bumpy, with potholes galore creating massive trenches in the earth’s surface. Only four-wheel drive vehicles or pick-ups with high clearance are permitted to drive the unforgiving route. Transportation to and from the waterfall can be arranged in Umphang village if your own vehicle is not suitable.
To add to the difficulties, road access to and from Tee Lor Su is only possible in the dry season; the track is too muddy and treacherous during the rainy season (July to October).
The ride is exciting and hair-raising, with clouds of thick dust left in your wake and either plunging drops or dense forest either side of the track.
Accessing Tee Lor Su by water
A ride along the river in a sturdy rubber raft, followed by a hike through the jungle, is the only way of accessing Tee Lor Su during the rainy season. The swollen raging river features several sets of thrilling rapids to navigate and you are sure to have a wild time!
At other times of the year, a rafting adventure is also a great way to experience the surrounding natural beauty and make your way to the stunning waterfall in style. The waters are calmer and lower, with a few slightly rough patches of river as opposed to the full-on turbulence of the rainy season. Note that a fairly long walk is still needed (around three kilometres).
Birds sing merrily from the towering tree tops, insects buzz in the dense forests, and enormous rocks rise majestically in the distance. The sun can be pretty intense – make sure you take plenty of sun cream and a hat.
As you make your way along the river, you will also pass by several smaller waterfalls, including the pretty Tee Lor Lay.
A number of operators can arrange rafting trips from Umphang village, and during the dry season, you can also opt to do one way by water and return by road.
Marvel at the splendor of Thailand’s biggest waterfall
Made up of a number of stepped drops, Tee Lor Su’s dramatic cascades cover the area of around five football pitches. With a total height of around 300 metres, there are several crystalline pools below each drop, some of which are suitable for cooling off with a refreshing dip. Surrounded by lush green forest and an abundance of nature, it is a very scenic place. You can hike up to different levels, but take extra-special care as the wet rocks can be incredibly slick. There are also several viewing areas where you can see large sections of the beautiful waterfall.
Tee Lor Su is Thailand’s biggest waterfall in terms of the cumulative amount of water. Its name means the Black Waterfall or Awesome Waterfall in the Karen language. The glorious waterfall is located within Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary. Admission costs 200 THB (approximately 5.60 USD) for foreign visitors.
Other attractions close to Tee Lor Su
As well as a number of other impressive waterfalls, you can enjoy relaxing in some small hot springs next to the river. The crude bamboo steps and fence add to the rustic charms, and the delightfully warm water will soothe away many of your hiking aches and pains. The dirt below is flecked with shimmering specks, which some people will have you believe is gold!
The thick jungles offer exceptional hiking and trekking opportunities, and you are almost certain to see a plethora of creatures in their natural habitat. The forests are home to elephants, clouded leopards, tapirs, monkeys, and numerous species of birds and insects.
Umphang’s traditional houses are quite unique and unlike those in other parts of the country. The village also has a small museum, Umphang Local Museum, containing old items such as photographs, coins, clothing and tools. The museum is only open at weekends.
Best time of year to visit Tee Lor Su
There really is no right or wrong time to visit the marvellous Tee Lor Su. A main consideration for many visitors is how to get to the waterfall. Visits during the rainy season are certainly more adventurous, and those who prefer an easier (albeit far from easy) trip are recommended to visit in the dry season.
Another big thing to think about is the water volume. The waterfall is fullest and at its most striking and powerful during, and just after, the rainy season. That said, the stream that feeds Tee Lor Su ensures that water does flow all throughout the year, though sometimes in reduced volumes. .
Have an exciting adventure and plan your trip to the mighty and majestic Tee Lor Su Waterfall.
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