Let’s have an authentic experience by taking a deep breath of clean air and enjoying the beautiful scenery of Mae Kampong Village. This pretty, tiny, sleepy village, is located 1,300 meters high on the mountains surrounding Chiang Mai, and only an hour’s drive from the city center (50 kilometres).
Mae Kampong is a small village of around 500 inhabitants and it is a model for sustainable eco-tourism in Thailand. The first farmers moved to this area from Doi Saket, some 200 years ago. Those early settlers came there to farm the land and grow tea. The tea leaves were used to make a local delicacy known as “mieng” which is still produced today. In more recent years, the community has been growing coffee as part of a Royal Project initiative. Surrounded by dense forest, the village enjoys a cooler climate than the Chiang Mai Valley. During the last 20 years, the introduction of community based tourism has transformed this sleepy hamlet into a popular destination. It has a choice of homestays, cute coffee shops, waterfalls, coffee plantations and scenic view points, and an idyllic stream runs through the hamlet. The village acts as a co-operative, so revenues benefit the entire community.
Staying one night or two in Mae Kamphong allows travelers to relax and experience the essence of the village. You can spend the night in a local home stay and enjoy the kindness of the villagers. Our first visit was to the village’s Teen Tok Royal Project Development Centre. This is a delightful little park and resembles a miniature botanical garden’ There is also a charming restaurant with affordable prices. With a little stream funning through the park, there are huge boulders to climb, a coffee plantation to walk through, and hundreds of different flowers and trees to discover.
One of the great attraction of Mae Kampong is the traditional architecture of the village. All houses are made of wood, which helps them blend into the natural surroundings. Walking along the steep and twisting road that passes through the village
is like a journey into the past, where the pace of life is quiet, slow and happy. Before the sun goes down choose one of the terraces from the 4 or 5 village restaurants has on offer to eat and drink with friends while watching life pass by. An unhurried
lifestyle is at its best in Mae Kampong! Please remember that life at Mae Kampong is very quiet and loud noises are not allowed after 8pm. People here wake up early and restaurants close by 8pm. Night time and early morning temperatures can be cold so be prepared with the right clothing. Take insect repellant as a useful precaution, and, if you plan to hike, suitable shoes or trainers. The next day, after enjoying a delicious homemade breakfast with a fresh coffee harvested in the village, take a trip to Mae Kampong temple, then drive to the view point. About 100 meters past the viewpoint is a small stream that flows right across the road. Located on the left and only a few meters upstream, is the first tier of the Mae Kampong waterfall. This waterfall is not the most impressive waterfall in the region, but it has a total of seven tiers which can be reached via a narrow path, leading into the jungle along the stream.
On the way back, enjoy the view over the village from Ing Dao-Mae Kampong, a rustic cafe with a large open terrace that is about 100 meters above the village and offers spectacular views of the jungle. For lunch, eat like a local and taste one of the village’s delicious Northern Thailand “Sai Hua” sausage. This specialty is very tasty and can be eaten with sticky rice. Spend the afternoon visiting some of the many cafes of Mae Kampong (see next page’s article). They are each unique and very photo-genic.
Tucked away and hidden from the world, Mae Kampong is one place to escape and reconnect with nature. Visit during week days for a quieter atmosphere. Green and welcoming, Mae Kampong village is definitely where you will find peace Mae Kampong Village and spend quality time with family and friends.