Mae Kampong (Thai: แม่กำปอง, mâe-gam-bpong) is a resort-like small village and a trendy destination for travelers who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and relax in a cozy spot among pristine nature, surrounded by numerous coffee shops and places for leisurely relaxation, nestled among mountains and densely forested hills. The village is located about 55 kilometers and an hour’s drive from Chiang Mai.
Location: Huai Kaeo (Thai: ห้วยแก้ว, hûuay gâew ), Mae On District (Thai: แม่ออน, mâe-on), Chiang Mai (Thai: เชียงใหม่, chiiang-mài)
Population: ~120 families
Cultivated crops: tea, coffee
Altitude: 1033 meters (3323 feet)
GPS coordinates: 18°51’56.5″N, 99°21’05.5″E
The history of Mae Kampong Pang Klang village began about 100 years ago when farmers moved here from the Doi Saket area. The primary source of income comes from ecotourism, the cultivation of tea, and growing coffee.
All year round, a tranquil, rustic atmosphere, delicious food, and fantastic weather saving you from the scorching and exhausting Thai sun – all this you will find in Baan Mae Kampong. If you stay here overnight in the guest house, you can also enjoy the night sounds of the wildlife and the murmuring of the mountain stream. Some travelers find it very soothing and help relieve mental fatigue and tension.
So, before we describe the local attractions, of which there aren’t many, let me first tell you that traveling to Mae Kampong is best from Monday to Thursday. Because on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the place gets very crowded with local tourists and some chaos is possible. Well, now, let’s get to our review!
First of all, Mae Kampong is a mountain village located about 1000 meters above sea level among mountains and wooded hills, and here you will not find beautiful views of endless rice fields. Many guidebooks claim that the village is 1300 meters above sea level, but this is wrong. The highest point in the residential area of Mae Kampong is Rabeing View Cafe, located at 1082 meters above sea level, which offers a beautiful view of the village that you can watch while sipping your drink.
The highest point nearby is Mae Kampong Waterfall, 1106 meters above sea level, but there is no observation deck. From here, a mountain stream flows through the village.
If you drive about 3 kilometers (about 10 minutes uphill) from the village, you will reach Kew Fin Viewpoint, located on the border of Chiang Mai and Lampang provinces. The viewpoint is 1517 meters above sea level and offers beautiful views of the mountains and hills.
The local delicacy is fermented Miang tea leaves (ใบเมี่ยง), made from the Assam tea tree (Camellia assamica), which is a traditional food of northern Thailand. To make it, tea leaves are picked into bunches, which are then steamed in bamboo baskets until this is fully cooked, and after this, they are fermented for 1-3 months. The finished product has a sour taste.
Fermented tea leaves (Miang Som) are usually eaten with ginger, tamarind, pickled garlic, and shallots or with a sweet filling of roasted coconut, sugar, salt, and roasted peanuts. This dish is called Miang kham.
Even though this is the only road passing through the center of the village, walking along it is a pleasure. Enjoy the nature and fresh forest air, eat national cuisine and local fast food, go to the viewpoint located near the village, relax in one of the cafes near the mountain stream, as well as iconic places, against which you can take pictures as a memory of visiting Ban Mae Kampong – it takes a full day.
Wat Mae Kampong (also known as Wat Khantha Pruksa), a Buddhist temple built more than 90 years ago in 1930, is the only temple in Mae Kampong. The temple’s viharn is made of golden teak wood with exquisite patterns created by local architects. The roof of the viharn is also made of teak but is covered with green moss, indicating the high humidity of the local climate and cool temperatures throughout the year. The temple’s highlight is a Buddhist Ubosot located in the middle of the Mae Kampong stream flows through the village. There are only two Buddhist Wats in Chiang Mai Province whose Ubosots are situated in the middle of the water. Wat Mae Kampong and Wat Phutta En at Mae Chaem sub-district (Mae Chaem is a part of the Mae Hong Son Loop).
From the temple to the waterfall is only a short walk. Also, there is a parking lot for seven cars. You can try to get to this place by car, but if you come to the village on days when it is crowded, these parking spaces may be occupied by other travelers.If you decide to wander around, there is a wildlife exploration trail next to the waterfall. You can also hike up to the top to see all seven tiers of the falls. On your way up, you’ll discover a bush of different varieties of ferns, and at the top there’s a small natural pool where you can swim.
When you get to this viewpoint, you will find yourself on a beautiful mountain top with a magnificent view of the surroundings of Chiang Mai province, where you can take photos for your Instagram.
Legend has it that in the old days, when the opium trade flourished in the region, this was a meeting place for opium sellers and buyers.It’s a beautiful view over the surrounding mountains. Don’t forget your sweater; this place is windy and breeze. If you stay overnight at Mae Kampong, coming here to see the sunrise is a Must Do. Ask your homestay hosts about transport up to here from the village the day before as we had to wake early at 4.30 am! It gets crowded during the incredible high season so that photography enthusiasts may choose their strategic spots in advance. Otherwise, relax and enjoy the million-dollar views here! Recommended!
Have you ever tried walking over a swinging narrow suspension bridge at this height? It is breathtaking and unforgettable! It also takes courage to get over all the base stations by sliding on the zip line. Fear not – there are safety ropes.
Ensure you have a helmet, leather/suede gloves (if you use your hand for braking), and that the track has a good safety record. Professional zip-lines often have double ropes, ensuring that the other will continue to hold the visitor if one cord is compromised. It is also essential to follow all safety instructions given during training and report any health problems to the guides. Some travel insurers may consider zip-lining a dangerous activity and may require special coverage at an additional cost. However, zip-lining is generally considered a safe activity. Injuries are rare and fatal accidents are even more infrequent.In addition to being a recreational project, Flight of the Gibbon is also a wildlife and gibbon conservation project, a mangrove reforestation project, a community outreach project, and an ecotourism project to help the villagers and support underprivileged families in the area.
In 1981, the average wage for a worker in Thailand was 47 baht a day (USD 2), or 1100 to 1300 baht a month. So the 300,000 baht donated in 1981 is equivalent to about $100,000 today.
Initially, the specifics of growing shiitake mushrooms, known for their healing effects in traditional Chinese medicine, were researched and studied here. But then, the royal project was expanded to explore other commercially viable crops such as passion fruit, figs, grapes, avocados, mangoes, papayas, mulberries, cymbidiums (boat orchids), pomegranates, and gloxinia – giving residents other farming and earning opportunities.
Here you can enjoy traditional Thai dishes made from local farm-fresh fruits and vegetables grown right there in the fields, enjoying the coolness of the shade of the trees and the view of the running mountain stream.In addition to eating or relaxing in nature, you can also explore the local orchid garden. And just a few minutes away, you can enjoy authentic Vietnamese coffee grown and roasted according to Vietnamese tradition at Mon Teen Tok Café.
It is a nice and cozy cafe with a beautiful view of the village below. It serves coffee and other beverages, as well as a variety of cakes. It is a good place to relax and have a good time. Have a hot tea or coffee, order a fresh pastry, and sit on the terrace to enjoy the view of the village lost in the woods. Be sure to try the soft and chewy Japanese dessert Ichigo Daifuku (strawberry mochi), which is made with fresh strawberries and sweet red bean paste. It’s best to get here early, because morning is the best time to observe and take pictures.
Even though it’s a cafe – we added this place to the “Points of Interest” section since it’s not just a cafe but also a local viewpoint.
You have to go down about 4-5 floors of cement stairs with handrails (children are allowed, but the elderly or people with bad knees are not allowed). The stairs are pretty steep, and you have to dodge two rocks hanging over your head as you descend. The cave climate is cool and very humid, with water dripping from the vaults in some places. The place is well lit, which is enough to explore the cave about halfway through. Inside, there are beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. You will find some imaginary figures here, such as seals, five-headed elephants, and dinosaurs. In the center of the cave, there is a Buddhist relic “Phra That Nom Pha” and statues of Buddha. More than 100 years ago, this was the meditation site of the famous monk Kruba Srivichai, who founded the Wat Doi Suthep and Wat Suan Dok temples in Chiang Mai.
It takes about 30 minutes to walk inside the cave. The exit is where the entrance is.
You can climb the rocks on your own (if you have the necessary equipment) or hire a guide to help you during the journey. The difficulty of the routes is from 5a to 8b+.
If you want to spend time climbing rocks, check out the climbing routes on The Crag, and don’t forget to download the 212-page PDF climber’s guide published by Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures.
Be careful not to fall into the boiling water. It can be crowded on weekends.
It also serves food, drinks, coffee, and pastries. Have you ever tasted sweet, juicy mango under a layer of bingsu and drizzled with condensed milk? Give up the diet for a short time. Yes, we know, mango with condensed milk sounds a little weird. But why not?
The coffee shop’s name comes from its grandmother’s name, “Utsah,” adding to the chicness of the name, followed by the phrase “home brew.” The unpretentious and peaceful atmosphere makes you feel like drinking coffee at home. The menu includes coffee, soft drinks, and homemade desserts. An ideal place to relax from fatigue and, thanks to the fresh air surrounding you, heal yourself with the natural freshness of nature. Also, there is a beautiful corner for memorable photos.
Since this place is outside the village, you can visit it very last, when you finish your exploration of the local sights and drive towards home at the end of the day.
It is a two-story wooden house nestled beside a stream, where they sell food, cakes, and drinks. There are also rooms for guests if you want to stay overnight.Inside, you will find a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere. If you take tables by the creek, you can enjoy the soothing sound of the water and delightful views of fragrant plants and a variety of bright blooming flowers while you eat or have a light snack. Next door, at Sai-ua Mae Nim (Mom Nim’s sai-ua sausage), you can buy spicy sausages made according to northern Thai recipes, cooked right there on the grill. Be sure to try it. Yummy!
Next to the coffee shop, you will find a view of a small waterfall that runs nearby. Relax in the atmosphere of the small waterfall in the shade of green trees, taking in the coolness filled with fresh forest air. It is a charming place to chill.
Savor the cheesecake with a chunk of honeycomb from the beehives – you’ll love it!
This shop is placed in a small but cozy rustic house built of building blocks, but don’t let the simplicity of the interiors confuse you. It is a veritable homebrew lab, where they brew a refreshing and robust beverage for you in many different ways, from a geyser coffee maker to a Viennese siphon (gabet).
Look out for cat illustrations and cards, cute neckerchiefs, souvenirs, money boxes, key chains, and more! Also, the store is located in a traditional Thai style house, don’t miss it while walking through the village.
2. Route through San Kamphaeng. Is it the most straightforward way if you don’t have a map or GPS. Just keep following the new road to San Kamphaeng (1317) and go to the end until you reach Mae Kampong.
The departure time from Mae Kampong is 09:20, 13:20, and 16:10. The departure point is a stop near the village school.
Mae Kampong is on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, about 55 kilometers from the city. The road leading here is well paved, so it is equally easy to get here by car or motorcycle and by bicycle.
There is also public transport, but public transport can sometimes be difficult for foreign tourists because not every driver knows English, and therefore there is a possibility of a language barrier.
The easiest way to get here is to rent a motorcycle or car. However, suppose you don’t have experience riding a bike or a car. In that case, the best choice is to hire a taxi with an English-speaking driver.
You can usually order a private cab or minibus at the hotel’s front desk where you are staying. In almost all accommodations, you will find many brochures advertising various services, from visits to local spas to tours to neighboring provinces and even neighboring countries.
If you stay in a private home using the service Airbnb, and there are no advertising leaflets on your bedside table, in this case, we can recommend a transportation company Van Hotsprings. They are the same guys who operate the public bus route. But they also offer private transportation services.
Unfortunately, local landlords have the same problem as most small businesses in Thailand – few of them use online channels to attract customers. That’s why it’s better to use meta-search engines that look for the best prices and availability in all accommodation booking systems. The best way to find affordable accommodations in Mae Kampong is to use Trivago or Expedia.
Before you travel to Mae Kampong by motorcycle or car, be sure to check out our helpful tips we’ve written specifically for travelers exploring the Northern Thailand. If you would like to rent a motorcycle, be sure to check out our motorcycle rental rates. You can contact us for details on this page. See you!
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