The Mae Ngat Dam floating houses have been one of the most fun and off-the-beaten-path places we’ve been to in Northern Thailand. There is nothing like getting a group of friends together and taking a trip out for a night or two on a freshwater lake in Thai-style floating bungalows!
Picture Camping, But On the Water!
We’ve never been to anything quite like the Mae Ngat Dam floating houses. They combine the best of boating and camping into one amazing rustic package. It sounded too good to be true when our Thai friend, Bee of Be Beez Cafe & Guesthouse, first told us about them.
This was just the place to go for a mini vacation after our trip home to the US. We spent two nights at the floating bungalows having a great time with our friends in Thailand swimming, eating, and catching up over a few beers.
These floating houses are a series of basic one-room cabins connected side-by-side and float on the lake’s surface. There are several companies, each housing a cluster of cabins that open up to a wide wooden deck spanning across their front.
The deck is where the fun happens! There is plenty of space for tanning and relaxing, and it’s the perfect setup to go swimming and tubing. It’s easy to jump in the water from the deck, and some of us were even brave enough to climb a platform and jump from greater heights.
There are wooden tables and chairs on the deck, and even grills. All we had to do is ask for some charcoal, and then Bee worked her magic and made fried chicken wings and German styled potato salad.
|TIP: Ask if there is a karaoke machine nearby. We recommend getting the rooms farthest from the singing since chances are the songs will last into the wee hours of the morning.|
The floating bungalows have Thai restaurants or kitchens to prepare food. They serve delicious whole fish dishes, but there are also pork, chicken, and vegetable stir-fries and soups. Fried and boiled eggs can be easily added to any dish. Breakfast is simple and Thai styled, consisting of jok (rice porridge), fried rice, and omelets. Ours provided hot tea and instant coffee.
We had some meals delivered right outside our bungalow. Other times we enjoyed meals in front of the restaurant at a thatched-roof hut. Wherever we ate, we had a great view of the lake.
Adult beverages can be purchased at near whole-sale prices (translation: cheap cheap!) and include drinking water, soda, soda water, large beers, Thai rum and whiskey.
The bungalows are generally very basic. The single-room cabins have a full sized bed, a vanity, and a fan. A word of warning, these beds were pretty hard! The rooms also have a window and a mosquito net. The fan is plugged into the only two-prong outlet in the room.
Each room has a small bathroom outback with a shower and Western toilet. In ours, we could see the green lake water below between the floor boards! The toilet is flushed using a bucket of water. If you stay in a place with no sink, you can count on there being a water spout to wash your face and hands. Mind you, each company is a little different and have different room standards.
Some floating houses provide two-person tents in the case that rooms are full. These can rented for around 400 baht a night and patrons sleep on the deck. Blankets and pillows are included.
The Mae Ngat Dam Floating Houses Supply
- Metal and ceramic grills; starters and charcoal
- Ice and large coolers
- Drinking glasses, plates, bowls, forks and spoons; cooking utensils
- Condiments (sugar, salt, pepper, chili sauce, chili powder, ketchup)
- Fresh towels and toilet paper
- WiFi (in our experience, it was available at the restaurant only)
You can also rent inner tubes, life vests, fishing rods and basic tackle, and kayaks.
Electricity is limited, and there are certain times when it’s powered on, typically in the evening hours. This is the only time to charge electronics and to connect to WiFi. Cell phone coverage isn’t available for dtac and is spotty at best for AIS and True. But who cares? Take it as a sign to disconnect from the world!
What to Bring to the Mae Ngat Dam Floating Houses
- Soap, shampoo, conditioner
- Sun block, insect repellant, hand wipes
- Plastic bags or trash bags
- Waterproof/floatable shoes to walk around on the hot wooden deck
- Ear plugs (just in case other patrons sing karaoke that night!)
- Portable charger
- Your favorite adult beverage and mixers; snacks
Total Cost for Our Trip to the Floating Houses (3 Days & 2 Nights)
We love these floating bungalows. It’s hard to beat a three day and two night vacation (with plenty of food, drinks, and activities) for just over $150 for the two of us. And as long as you like the outdoors and rustic features of a floating cabin with grills and beautiful skylines, you’re in for a real treat.
How to Get to the Mae Ngat Dam Floating Houses
The Mae Ngat Dam floating houses are about 60 km north of Chiang Mai City, at the Sri Lanna National Park. The roads are in good condition, so it’s possible to rent a car or motorbike and drive yourself there. There’s overnight parking available if you decide to take your own vehicle.
- Exit Chiang Mai Old City via Thapae gate heading east on Thapae Road. Cross the bridge over the Ping River and remain straight as it becomes Charoen Muang Road (Route 1006).
- Turn left onto the Inner Ring Road (Route 11), heading counter-clockwise.
- Turn right on Route 1001 (north-bound) and drive about 50 km.
- You will begin seeing signs (in English) for the Mae Ngat Dam. Follow these signs and turn left onto Route 1323.
- The road twists and turns. At the T-intersection, follow the Mae Ngat Dam sign and turn right.
- A few hundred meters you’ll see a brown Sri Lanna National Park sign. Turn left here.
- Follow a second Sri Lanna National Park sign as the road curves right and then slightly left.
- At the T-intersection, there will be another Sri Lanna National Park Sign pointing left. Follow this down a few hundred meters until the park entrance, hanging left at the Y in the road at the “Entrance” sign.
We’ve also gotten to the Mae Ngat Dam floating houses by songthaew. We’ll ask the driver to stop at one of the markets along the highway and buy chicken wings, potatoes, easy-to-eat fruit, fried pork rinds, sticky rice, Thai chili paste, water, and beer. Then we’ll tell him to come back and pick us up at a specific time the next day.
The entrance fee to the Sri Lanna National Park is 100 baht per person and another 20 baht per vehicle.
The final drop-off point is a brief ride around the bend in the dirt road. Here we waited a few minutes for the next available longboat, which costs 600 baht (20 USD) per round trip per group. The boat ride from the pickup spot to the bungalows is roughly 15 minutes.
View Mae Ngat Dam Floating Houses in Chiang Mai in a larger map
There are several floating house companies at the Mae Ngat Dam, each with various facilities and prices. Most have staff that speaks Thai with limited English, so we recommend asking a Thai friend to make reservations.
Aj Wit Floating House: (081) 180-3055 or (085) 864-6269
Eakachai Floating House: (083) 480-5679
Nong Ann Floating House: (081) 961-3369
Nong Mae Floating House: (085) 616-4337 or (081) 951-5987
Pun Piron Floating House: (081) 253-3996 or (086) 425-7065
Sainatee Floating House: (081) 960-5357 or (086) 396-9453