A visit to Chiang Rai’s Pangha Homestay community feels like going back 100 years to a time when Thailand wasn’t even called Thailand but rather ‘Siam’, when people got around on bicycles or rickshaws rather than cars, and when hands worked all day long to make crafts and materials (instead of typing away on keyboards…)
Situated in the very north of Thailand not far from the Myanmar border, the defining feature of this community is its people, who are of Tai Lue origin, that still maintain many of the distinct cultural characteristics passed on from their ancestors to this very day. This includes a unique northern dialect, traditional fabric-made clothes with bold patterns, and a fascinating cuisine combining elements of Vietnamese, Burmese, Isaan and Lanna food. Luckily, you’ll be able to witness this interesting culture upon arrival, as you are greeted with a welcome ceremony and introduction to the community’s history and way of life. You can also taste some of their fusion-style dishes, such as Ram Fuen rice and Tai Lue pizza.
Much of the time during the afternoon of the first day has been designated for activities in and around Pangha. There is a chance to visit some of the old-age businesses and mini-factories that are still standing, including the world’s only ‘rice paper’ making center and an old tobacco curing plant. For those seeking a little more rest and relaxation from this trip, the village is also home to a herbal foot spa and ‘gold fiber’ spa.
As the sun begins to set, there’s time to head out of the village to admire the scenery looking over the Khun Nam Nang Non Mountain, as well as inspect a local rice paddy in the evening.
After enjoying dinner with the locals, it’s time to get chill out and relax in your gorgeous homestay for the night – certainly one of the highlights of this “Extraordinary Experience”. The accommodation is comprised of a large, hand-built wooden house that has been expertly renovated inside making your stay both a comfortable and memorable.
Plenty more visits and activities await the next day on this “One Night Stay with Locals” trip. After breakfast in the village, head out to participate in some knowledge-building activities, including trying your hand as a Shan’s knife smith and candle maker! There is stop-off at the pretty Kimju Guava Garden before visiting an area at the Thai-Myanmar border that is only temporarily permitted for tourists to see.
Then it’s time to go back to the community to enjoy another northern-style lunch at a local restaurant. With a full stomach, take part in the ‘Phra Singh San Chana Man’ workshop at Wat Phra San temple before bidding farewell to your Tai Lue hosts and heading home.