Mae Kampong is one of the most accessible highland villages to the city of Chiang Mai, receiving many visitors a year as a result. Here’s a bit of background about this beautiful and interesting little place and some reasons why you should visit Mae Kampong.
Why should you go there?
Mae Kampong sits at 1300 metres above sea level, making its climate perfect for the production of mêeang, pickled tea leaves. Although villagers have begun to branch out into coffee planting, it’s tea that is the main source of their income and the thing that has drawn tourists keen to get a more authentic experience under their belt than the backpacker hangouts of the city. It’s possible to stay overnight at the village with one of several families offering homestay accommodation, an immersive cultural programme offering the chance to get a better understanding of local lifestyles and to try some of the local food.
What’s life like up on the hillside?
The Mae Kampong community live in a small village balanced on the hillside, their rabbit warren of tiny huts clinging almost impossibly to the steep slopes. Whilst feeling relatively remote, it is a popular tourist destination as people head up to wander around the intricate streets, taste local snacks and treats and visit the nearby waterfall. Many of the villagers used to be employed a the zipline operator, Flight of the Gibbon but as of December 2022 this was closed indefinitely leaving the villagers to focus on other sources of income, most of which related to tourism, tea and coffee production and homestays.
Is there much more to see?
As well as forested hillsides, this lush and immensely beautiful area is riddled with flowing waterfalls and trickling mountain streams. Its cool breezes are a welcome respite from the pollution and humidity down in the city and many people find it a relaxing place to go and unwind for a few days, the hillside equivalent of a hammock by the beach. The nearby hot springs, used by local families as a source of hot water for cooking eggs, has been redeveloped with a tiled bathing area, so make sure you bring your swimsuit and a sarong so that you can lie back and let the water’s mineral properties soothe your skin and any aches and pains you’ve acquired on your trip. The area’s great for bird watching and for hiking, and photographers will delight in the beauty of the landscape in these parts. There are many trails in the area perfect for hiking, many of which you will not find in any brochure or website. Eco Tours Chiang Mai having worked with the villagers for several years can organize special treks in the region.
How do I get there?
Although Mae Kampong is only around an hour east of Chiang Mai, it’s not possible to reach the place by public transport. Check out our private car and driver service who can organize a trip to Mae Kampong.