Maekok River Vil­lage Re­sort’s

LUXE City Guides - Chiang Mai - - Spa And Beauty -

de­light­ful restau­rant / 053 053 628 / maekok-river-vil­lage-re­ / 1km on the right af­ter the bridge. If you’re pooped, stay on for a night or two. This is a great base for ex­plor­ing the his­tory and cul­ture of lo­cal eth­nic mi­nori­ties, and the ho­tel staff can ar­range sen­si­tive al­ter­na­tives to the naff tourist vil­lages.

The next 30km passes through a back­drop of farm­land dot­ted with eth­nic Akha, Lisu, Yao, Karen, Lahu and Tai Yai vil­lages + or­ange/ly­chee or­chards. At the check­point on the hill­top you have two op­tions: you can turn left and climb into Doi Mae Sa­long to take in more stun­ning scenery, tea shops, tea plan­ta­tions, Chi­nese Haw vil­lages, and sam­ple a cuppa at Hongfu Tea Shop / 080 558 0066 / hong­ / 13/3 half­way into Mae Sa­long on the right; or, sim­ply con­tinue 29km on Road 1089 to Mae Chan, where perched atop a hill, sits the all-suite Katiliya Moun­tain Re­sort & Spa / 388/1 M.4 Tam­bol Pha Sang / Mae Chan / 053 603 000 / From Mae Chan, Chi­ang Rai lies 30 mins south, Doi Tung 30 mins north and Chi­ang Saen 30 mins NE. From Mae Chan head up into the moun­tain to the Doi Tung De­vel­op­ment Pro­ject, park your car and am­ble through the beau­ti­ful Mae Fah Luang Gar­den. Swing by the Princess Mother’s Royal Villa, built in both Swiss and Lanna styles and hous­ing Lanna art, and peek into the Hall of In­spi­ra­tion to learn about the Thai royal fam­ily. Parched? Head to Café Doi Tung ad­ja­cent to the carpark. Next, drive to Chi­ang Saen for the fas­ci­nat­ing, high-tech, world class Hall of Opium / Golden Tri­an­gle Park / Sop Ruak / 053 784 446 / closed Mon / mae­fah / one of a num­ber of ex­cel­lent Royal projects tar­geted against the opium trade, while restor­ing the liveli­hood of the vil­lagers. Tie this in with a visit to the Asian Ele­phant Foun­da­tion / help­in­gele­ / in the Anan­tara ho­tel op­po­site, which has great views of the hills and val­leys, a huge pool and rather lovely spa – Anan­tara Re­sort and Spa Golden Tri­an­gle / 229 M.1 / Chi­ang Saen / 053 784 084 / anan­ Or, sell your kids and glamp at the lux­ury Four Sea­sons Tented Camp Golden Tri­an­gle / 053 910 200 / foursea­ Feel­ing shop­pity? Tribal hand­i­crafts are sold at all the vil­lages. On the way from Chi­ang Saen to CR one stand­out is Doy Din Dang Pot­tery / 12km north of Chi­ang Rai, handy to air­port / fol­low signs to Long Neck Karen Vil­lage / 053 705 291 / closed Sun / com­mis­sions ac­cepted / dddpot­ / for mod-rus­tic Thai/asian stoneware. 5km fur­ther to­wards the city don’t miss the sur­real in­stal­la­tion / mu­seum Baan Si Dum (Black House) / M.13 / Ban Du / 053 705 834 / closed noon-1pm. Famished, or ready to flop? Skip west 7km to the rus­tic-chic Bura Re­sort / 244 M.13, Ban Hua Fai / Ban Du / 082 192 4518 / bu­ / serv­ing Thai tucker with a natty al­fresco ter­race. Or, in Chi­ang Rai it­self, stay at Le Méri­dien / 221/2 M.20 Kwae­wai Rd / Tam­bon Rob­wieng / Am­phur Muang / 053 603 333 / star­wood­ho­ / which sits along the Mae Kok River, drip­ping with leafy tran­quil charm. Also in CR, the Mae Fah Luang Art & Cul­tural Park / 313 M.7 / Ban Pa Ngiew / 053 716 605 / closed Mon / mae­fahlu­ / is a must for Lanna art, ar­chi­tec­ture, teak arte­facts and a botan­i­cal col­lec­tion. 12km south of CR re­sides the sparkly, kitsch Wat Rong Khun (White Tem­ple) / Pa-or Don­chai Rd / 053 673 579, or, if you’re up for a birdie play golf at the highly-rated San­tiburi Coun­try Club / 12 M.3 Huadoi-sob­pao Rd / T. Wiang-chai / 053 662 821. Fab!

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