The authentic Thailand: Homestay in Chiang Rai

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Rice paddies around Chiang Rai
Rice paddies around Chiang Rai

Thailand is probably the most popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia. Its beautiful beaches, undeniably good street food and breathtaking temples cannot disappoint. But how about getting to know the authentic side of Thailand and be a part of it for two days, with a homestay in Chiang Rai?

Actxplorer is an organization that wants to show travelers the way locals live. Promoting responsible tourism with local communities, they offer authentic and unique experience that you will hardly find anywhere else. We had a chance to taste the rural life in Chiang Rai and it was truly unforgettable.

Two days of trekking, great views and organic food

Peasants at work
Farmers at work and a lovely kid 🙂

Honestly, we had no idea what to expect from this homestay in Chiang Rai. We kinda went with the flow and let Kitt, our guide, organize the whole program. The result was surprising. In spite of a little rain we could enjoy a panoramic trekking with postcard views. We had a few tasty meals made of organic local ingredients. We slept like babies in a hut without electricity, where the only sounds were those from the jungle. We could observe the life in the rural areas and see farmers at work. But let’s start from the beginning.

Pack light

Kitt Tiger Chiang Rai
Don’t worry… He’s not dangerous!

You won’t need much stuff. However, there a few essentials that you should take with you (you can leave the rest of your luggage at Kitt’s place). First of all, it’s probably going to be hot so comfy t-shirts and shorts will be fine. It’s not a bad idea to bring something to change as you’ll sweat a lot. Don’t forget to protect yourself against mosquitoes. The hut has a mosquito net but there are a lot of them especially around rice fields.

Rice paddies Thailand
Rice paddies everywhere

Make sure you wear good steady shoes (no sandals, sneakers or flip-flops) and have a raincoat ready. What else to bring? Swimsuit, headlight or torch and maybe something to read for the evening. Forget about computers, internet and smartphones: There is no place for them at Kitt’s farm :).

Day 1: Homestay in Chiang Rai

Hills around Chiang Rai
Walking our way in the green hills

We arrive to Chiang Rai around noon and that’s where the adventure starts. Kitt comes to pick us up at the station. His nickname is Tiger and he even has one of these animals tattooed in his arm. Many years ago his great-grandfather killed a tiger that was bothering the village. This story of courage and bravery is very dear to Kitt, who has his own family with three kids now. He is an experienced farmer, hunter and jungle explorer and he’ll infect you with his passion for adventure.

Rice paddies Chiang Rai
Wonderful views along the way

After a quick lunch we leave our bags at Kitt’s place and start towards the jungle. At the beginning the path is steep and a little slippery but we are awarded with spectacular views. There are green hills covered with the jungle and rice paddies as far as the eye can see. We have a few stops on the way. Kitt knows everyone and everyone knows Kitt. Friendly farmers always offer us their products: Sweet baby pineapple or tasty tiny bananas. We even cross a village that is Christian, which is a pretty rare thing in Thailand.

Zuzana making friends
Zuzana making friends

Coming “home”

Our final destination that day is the house of Kitt’s parents. Kitt’s father speaks English very well and he’ll be more than happy to strike a conversation with you. The main house has a big terrace with a breathtaking view of the rice fields below. You can also relax in a hammock or read a book (If you don’t have any, Kitt has a few of them available). There are two smaller huts with a terrace and a small room with a mattress. One of them becomes our room for the night.

Homestay in Chiang Rai
Sunset view from our house!

It’s incredibly relaxing to hear no cars and street hustle. Our homestay in Chiang Rai is also a good restaurant. We have dinner on the terrace and after the trekking we are very hungry. Rice, vegetables and omelette disappear in a few minutes. Kitt promises to take us night-hunting later, which is actually our very first hunting ever! Well, and maybe the last one too, since we are pretty lame as hunters :D.

Creatures of the night

The rice paddies turn into one huge swamp full of animals that locals consider tasty. Most of them go out at night and that’s the best time to catch them. Kitt gives us a specially designed basket and high rubber boots. He tells us what we have to look for: Frogs, fish, snakes and crabs. Even though our torches are strong, it is extremely difficult to spot them. Not for Kitt. Every two seconds we hear him shout: “Another one! Bring the basket!” He manages to fill the basket in a short time. He even catches a few eels and fish. Whatever we catch will be for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Day 2

Homestay in Chiang Rai
Our breakfast, made by Kitt

And he is right. Our homestay in Chiang Rai is full of surprises. The next day the farmers wake up early and head to the fields. Kitt’s father is busy with his order of bananas. Us spoiled kids sleep like babies until 8AM. The breakfast is ready and there are also the creatures we caught last night (apart from the frogs, which managed to escape somehow). We eat it all as we know that there is a full day of trekking ahead of us.

Welcome to the jungle

Trekking in Chiang Rai
Trekking around Chiang Rai on the second day

The overnight rain made things difficult. The terrain is a little bit slippery and muddy, but that’s the rainy season. We have the opportunity to see a truly stunning landscape. It’s really easy to fall in love with it.

Bamboo cooking

We are looking forward to the lunchtime when Kitt is going to show us how to cook and eat using just bamboo. We actually love the idea as you only use what you find in nature. Pieces of bamboo trunk can be used as a pot and dishes and young bamboo is great for Thai curry. The result? Judge for yourself :).

Last but not least

What can be a better end of our homestay in Chiang Rai than a nice swim in the river? We kinda feel sorry when all is over. We would have loved to see more of the farm life and eventually help with daily tasks.

Swimming in the rivers Thailand
Just before swimming

We could recommend this kind of experience to anybody who is looking for something authentic in a touristy country like Thailand. Actxplorer and Tiger Farm in Chiang Rai are the answers.

If you want to do the same trek + homestay, there are two options for you. Check the following links:

1 – Karen Farmstay in the hills

2 – Village & bamboo forest trek

BONUS: If you decide to book, until the end of October 2017 you can use our promo code to get a 5% discount!

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Would you like to live this adventure? Let us know in the comment. Enjoy the gallery and share the post!

* Disclaimer: Thanks to Actxplorer, that made our experience possible. As always, all opinions and all photos are our own.*

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