Located some 35 kilometers from Mae Hong Son there is a beautiful village called Mae Aw, or more popularly known as Ban Rak Thai (Love Thai Village).
Ban Rak Thai is a small highland village nestled in the lush backcountry of Mae Hong Son province in Northern Thailand. It is set in a valley surrounded by hills and tea plantations on the edge of a reservoir.
This sleepy village is famous for its breathtaking views and tea cultivation. Because of its remote location, the village is still little known to tourists, and that makes this place not heavily-touristed.
Distance wise, the place is about 40km from Mae Hong Son town or 250km from Chiang Mai. it is also very close to the Burma border (less than 1km).
Sitting on the shore of a beautiful lake set in a valley surrounded by hills, Ban Rak Thai is a picturesque village with fantastic scenery.
The magical sunrise view of thick solemn mist covering the lake like a weighty woolen blanket slowly wafted upwards into the morning air.
The highland village sits at an elevation of 1,800 metres above sea level and enjoys a cold climate and fresh air year round.
Ban Rak Thai has a population of just fewer than 1000 people and sees very few tourists due to its remote location.
The atmosphere here in the morning is the most perfect where you can watch the mist rising off the lake.
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Historically Ban Rak Thai is a Thai-Chinese village founded by former Kuo Min Tang soldiers (The Nationalists) who migrated from Yunnan Province, China, after the Communist takeover of China.
Today the place is still heavily influenced by the old Chinese. There are many signs in Chinese, buildings are Chinese-style and much of the population speaks a heavily accented version of Mandarin Chinese.
Ban Rak Thai is also well known for its tea products. The village is surrounded by lush and aromatic tea plantations thanks to the mountainous landscape and cool climate.
Every year in February an annual Tea Tasting Festival is held at Ban Rak Thai.
Cottage type guesthouses – made from mud and influenced by Chinese culture, located right at the middle of hill-side tea plantations.
Ban Rak Thai has a beautiful landscape of lush green tea plantations on the slope of hills.
Take a walk around the tea garden on the hills surrounding the village and learn about growing and processing tea product.
Because of its remote location, Ban Rak Thai is so calm and peaceful without seeing a lot of tourists. Most people visit this place as part of their day tour to a few attractions in Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai. If you just want to relax and do nothing then this sleepy village is the place for you.
Along the lakeshore are some cafes and restaurants offering a fantastic panoramic view of the lake. As Ban Rak Thai is well known for its tea products, sip a cup of tea at one of the tea houses there offering a variety of homegrown tea leaves. The restaurant here also serves Yunnan-style Chinese food as well as locally brewed fruit wine.
Some cafes and restaurants along the lake shore offering amazing panoramic lake views.
There are excellent quality oolong teas grown in Ban Rak Thai, and some of the best are here for a tasting.
Great atmosphere here in the morning as you can watch the views of mist rising off the lake while sipping a cup of hot drink.
Locally brewed wine using the Chinese style clay pots. They’re making a few different wines, sweet and dry, from fruits: pineapple, plum, peach etc.
A tranquil getaway — the sleeping village is one of the best places to spend a day doing nothing. Absolutely nothing.
HOW TO GO TO BAN RAK THAI
Most people come to Ban Rak Thai on a small day-tour group (by minivan) from Mae Hong Son or Chiang Mai. The nearest airport is the Mae Hong Son Airport, with daily flights to/from Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
If you want to come here by yourself, you may catch the yellow songthaew (pick-up truck) from Mae Hong Son town. The car leaves at 8.00am and 12.00noon daily.
For the DIY road trip enthusiast, or if you are taking the Mae Hong Loop road trip, you may make a detour to this small village when you are going between Mae Hong Son and Pai.
Walking around the village, sometimes you would feel that you are in another country rather than Thailand.
Ban Rak Thai still retain the old Chinese cultures. Many signs are in Chinese.
WHERE TO STAY IN BAN RAK THAI
Ban Rak Thai is a small village without a lot of choices for accommodation. The most popular hotel is Lee Wine Ruk Thai, located right in the middle of hill-side tea plantations.
If you stay here, besides a great view of the lake and overlooking the village, you will actually see farmer harvest tea leaves a few feet away from you. You may check the room availability and book online here.
Sit in front of the house and enjoy the amazing views of sunset or sunrise with cool refreshing air.
BEST TIME TO VISIT BAN RAK THAI
The cold season, which runs from November to mid-February is the best time to visit Ban Rak Thai and the other places in Northern Thailand.
The daytime is warm and cold during the evening and at night. You can walk around in shorts and a shirt in the daytime, but a sweater or jacket will be needed after sunset.
The rainy season, from June to October, is also a great time to visit as this is when the mountain and scenery at their deepest green. The view of the amazing sea of clouds across the valley is also the most apparent during this time.
At sunrise, take a ride with the boat around the lake and glide through the fog and mist floating over the lake surface.
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