Chiang Mai, situated in Northern Thailand is a city bustling with activity and plenty of things to do. We stayed there for 6 nights and were simply spoilt with exciting options of activities and day tours to fill our trip with. We managed to cram in river tubing, trekking, temple visiting, white water rafting and meeting elephants to name just a few of the things we got up to! And that’s even with one day as a bit of a write off because of bad weather (we had massages and visited a cat café on that day – it was amazing!)
But what really impressed me was something that wasn’t really advertised very much and I can’t recall seeing in any of the tour shops. Up in the mountains, a good 45 minutes or so drive away from the centre of the city we accidentally came across the Doi Pui Hmong Hilltribe village. We had originally taken a songthaew (a pick up taxi truck) out to visit the glorious Doi Suthep temple which was a half an hour drive away from our hostel. The temple was stunningly beautiful and is definitely worth a visit – we spent a good hour exploring the grounds and admiring the views. However as we were just about to slope off home, we noticed taxi sign posts for trips further up to the Doi Pui Hmong Hilltribe for about only an extra 100 baht each (approx. £2 pounds). Intrigued, we decided to take up the offer. As there weren’t too many taxis driving up to the village our driver insisted that he wait whilst we visited, giving us an hour to explore. We thought an hour would be all we needed, but I can safely say that we could have definitely stayed a lot longer.
As soon as we ventured into the tiny village, we felt humbled and quite taken aback. As fun as it was tubing and white water rafting it now felt like we were seeing some of the real Thailand. There were shops selling handmade goods with locals sitting in there hand sewing, farmyard animals running around freely and kids playing in the sun donning traditional tribe clothing. It was so nice to visit somewhere that was considerably tourist-free – a hidden gem some would say!
We passed an elderly local man as we climbed through the winding pathways up in to the village. You could pay 20 baht to shoot a handmade crossbow at some rather exotic-looking fruit – at such a price it would have been rude to say no! Browsing through the shops I was also delighted to pick up an embroidered hand-sewn case for the huge sum of 20 baht. I’ve been using it ever since to protect my phone as my last one ended up soaked with cider! (oops).
We then came across the Doi Pui Hmong Hilltribe museum, where I think entry cost about 10 baht. There wasn’t much to the museum, but it was extremely interesting to learn about the history and the culture of the people living up here in the mountains.
As we climbed up to the highest point of the village, we passed beautifully planted vegetable patches, a strawberry farm, bright gardens full of blossoming flowers and even huge towering giant bamboo sticks. It really was a sight to see, and as we gazed from the top I wasn’t sure if I’d ever witnessed such a breath-taking view– the photos really don’t do it justice! It was so quiet too, something so rare for me being brought up in hustle and bustle of London. It seemed so bizarre that trips to the village weren’t more popular with visitors to Chiang Mai – although the purity and quietness of the place is really what makes it so special.