North of Chiang Dao lies the pretty resort town of Tha Ton, which sits on the River Kok right across the border from Myanmar. The local temple, Wat Tha Ton, is built on a cliff overlooking the town. From the bridge below boats set off for trips on the River Kok, some of them headed for Chiang Rai, 130 km (81 miles) away.
Tha Ton is a pleasant base for touring this mountainous region. The 1089 and 1130 highways that run north, close to the Myanmar border, pass through villages that are more Chinese than Thai. The largest of these, Mae Salong, is on Highway 1234. Most of the Chinese in the area are descendants of the Nationalist forces who fled their homeland after the Communists' 1949 victory in the civil war that gave birth to the People's Republic of China. Based at first mostly in Burma, the Nationalists arrived in Chiang Rai Province in large numbers in the early 1960s. Many of these families have prospered cultivating tea, coffee, and fruit.