A Taste of China in Northern Thailand
Set on the Thai-Myanmar border, this unassuming village provides a peaceful respite. Enjoy tea at local cafes while tasting Shan specialities while taking in nature-filled views.
Ban Rak Thai, commonly referred to as Mae Aw, is a small highland village known for its scenic lakeshore setting and tea plantations environs. Here you will find cozy mud huts lining its lakeshore while tea plantations surrounds this picturesque locale.
Ban Rak Thai can be reached in various ways, but renting a car may be the ideal method. Driving through Mae Hong Son’s hills provides breathtaking scenery that you won’t soon forget!
If you prefer not to rent a car, songthaew (local shared taxi) services provide another convenient means of travel between Mae Hong Son and Pai. Regular departures depart both locations regularly but a reservation should be made prior to arriving as this time is when most songthaews are busiest. In general it’s wise to visit during morning rush hours for optimal experience with songthaew services.
As soon as you enter Ban Rak Thai, one of the first things you’ll notice is an exquisite temple called Wat Ban Huai Makhuea Som. A perfect spot to take pictures and admire its architecture!
Once you’ve explored the temple, take time to explore further into the village and visit some of its local sights. Tea plantations is an integral part of local culture and many visitors come here to learn about how high quality tea is produced and harvested; many even opt for an afternoon of tasting at tea plantations facilities nearby!
Another attraction worth visiting is the Royal Agricultural Station. Here, villagers cultivate various fruits and vegetables as well as some rare species; you can even sample different kinds of tea at their cafe!
If you happen to visit during Chinese New Year, don’t miss the amazing tea festival held in a village! This festival celebrates the art of tea cultivation and should not be missed by anyone interested in Chinese culture.
One of the best activities to do in Ban Rak Thai is taking a boat ride on its lake. This beautiful scene, especially early in the morning when mist covers the waters and sunrise illuminates them, makes for an amazing spectacle that shouldn’t be missed! Tickets for this popular activity can be bought at Lee Wine Cafe so make sure your plan accordingly!
Ban Rak Thai might not be at the top of everyone’s travel itinerary, but the attractions it has to offer more than compensate. First and foremost is its breathtaking scenery: with a small lake set within a valley surrounded by mountains and tea plantations. Reminiscent of some parts of China, it was originally settled by fighters belonging to Kuomintang (Nationalist) party fighters fleeing civil war against Communist Party in 1940s China who kept much of their culture and traditions that remain today as part of Ban Rak Thai community today.
Boating on the lake in a traditional Chinese-style boat is the best way to appreciate this picturesque village, particularly during sunrise and sunset when its beauty becomes particularly captivating. Boat rides run from 7.30am until 18:00pm daily through Lee Wine Ruk Thai for around THB 350 per person and booking should be done through staff there.
Take a leisurely stroll through the village. The main street features shops selling everything from dried fruits, tea and herbs to high-altitude Chinese cuisine as well as restaurants serving delightful refreshments.
Visitors to Thailand often enjoy exploring a village’s tea plantation to gain more knowledge on its production process. Here, visitors can gain an in-depth look into how U-long and green tea are produced here; local villagers take great pride in cultivating some of Thailand’s highest quality U-long and green tea varieties.
Every February, the village hosts a tea-tasting festival to showcase their products, making this an essential experience for tea enthusiasts. Visitors can taste a wide selection of tea products while learning about how they’re made while also experiencing live performances and authentic local entertainment.
Visiting during winter? Make sure you bring warm clothing as temperatures can fall to freezing or below. Furthermore, plan your visit well ahead of April as many farmers in northern regions burn crop residue at this time and cause smoggy skies.
Food & Drink
Ban Rak Thai is an exquisite highland village and hidden treasure. Come relax on its banks alongside its serene reservoir offering stunning mountain views. Also, tea lovers will find this area to their liking with multiple tea plantations offering premium blends awaiting discovery.
It’s easy to see where this village got its name – “village loves Thailand”, translated from Chinese. Many of the original residents were nationalist soldiers from China who had fled a civil war between communist forces and nationalist forces and settled here to patrol their border, eventually changing their lifestyles and adapting Thai values and way of living.
As such, their culture remains alive and well in this peaceful corner of northern Thailand. You’ll easily recognize their influence as you stroll the tranquil streets or dine at local restaurants serving Yunnan-influenced dishes like khao soi (noodle soup), kaeng hang le (pork curry) and guay chaew (baked chicken).
Lee Wine Rak Thai, a popular clay resort that features both restaurants and tea plantations, offers some of the finest local dishes such as noodles, meatball soups, salads, tea as well as locally produced wines such as mulberry and peach wines.
Village life offers visitors the chance to explore various temples, such as Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu. Established in 1860, this exquisite white temple houses the remains of an esteemed monk – making a visit here an excellent opportunity to learn about its Buddhist history as well as take advantage of its stunning surroundings.
Ban Rak Thai doesn’t offer much in terms of activities to do, but one experience not to miss is boating on the lake. Traditional Chinese boats adorned with red lanterns can be rented out and take you for a pleasant cruise around its perimeter while mist covers nearby mountains.
Visit this idyllic mountain village if you want a peaceful respite from the chaos and stress of everyday life, while appreciating nature. Just avoid visiting during April when farmers in the area begin burning crop residue resulting in hazy skies which obscure your view.
Ban Rak Thai, on the border between Thailand and Myanmar, is nestled in mountains with its lake at its center. Founded by members of KMT’s (Kuomintang Nationalist) 93rd Division who were fleeing communist China after losing to Mao Zedong’s Red Army during China’s Civil War, this community eventually took on the name “Rak Thai” (or Lovers of Thailand) to express their appreciation to King Rama 9 and Kingdom of Thailand for providing a home after their long journey.
This small hamlet looks straight out of a fairytale: surrounded by mountains with an incredible lake in the center and boasting an incredible community spirit that made this place truly remarkable. Thanks to these individuals’ hard work and determination, this small community boasts immense beauty while remaining unmistakably its own thanks to their efforts.
Though it can be tempting to visit this village and head straight back to Chiang Mai after only spending one or two days here, if you truly wish to experience its charms you should stay for at least a night and observe how locals live. There are various accommodation options in the area including traditional houses and hotels; or for something truly enchanting consider booking a lakeside campsite tent where temperatures often dip down into single digits during winter nights!
Ban Rak Thai offers many other fun things to do aside from simply admiring its beautiful scenery and culture, such as visiting tea shops or relaxing by the lake. There are also restaurants serving delicious Chinese cuisine; perhaps try your luck at steaming mantou buns – a favourite among locals!
Add a hot air balloon ride to your itinerary for an unforgettable visit to Ban Rak Thai and experience its beauty from an altogether unique vantage point! A hot air balloon tour provides the best way to witness this village and its surroundings from above and gives an unprecedented look into Northern Thailand’s breathtaking natural wonders.