After almost a week exploring Bangkok, I traveled with my wife and son up to Chiang Mai. Our first two days were spent in the city of Chiang Mai, and with a visit to the amazing Elephant Nature Park. We followed that up with a drive to Doi Inthanon, the highest point in all of Thailand.
We spent the early morning hours on Doi Inthanon hiking on a few of the interpretive trails before making our way to the two iconic chedis, Naphamethinidon and Naphaphonphumisiri. Located at 8415 feet, the views from the summit provided an amazing vista of the area below.
After our time at Doi Inthanon, we drove down the mountain for a to visit a rustic village coffee shop called Mae Klang Luang Coffee. I have a love for local grown coffee and this seemed like a great opportunity to enjoy some. The story of Thai coffee is a fascinating one. As many know, opium was the top crop in the Golden Triangle area for some time. The Thai King started a Royal Project to provide a cash crop alternative to Thai farmers and end optimum production. This began the transition from the opium poppy to the coffee bean.
Mae Klang Luang Coffee is nestled at the top of a hill in a Karen village on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, and can be visited directly from the city or as part of a visit to Doi Inthanon.
When we entered the coffee shop, we were greeted warmly before getting a brief education on the coffee grown in the area. We also found out that visitors can hike around the coffee fields on an established trail descending from the shop, but we were short on time due to our morning hike around Doi Inthanon.
The roasted coffee beans were ground fresh using a manual hand crank grinder, and dropped into a Thai tungdtom filter, before boiling water was poured over the grounds and into a carafe. The tungdtom was then left to steep, resulting in a strong and bold brew.
I enjoyed a few cups of coffee at this scenic outdoor cafe and made sure to buy a bag of beans to bring home. I’m not big on souvenirs while traveling, but I’ll purchase any bag of locally grown coffee I can get my hands on.
After enjoying our pot of coffee at Mae Klang Luang Coffee, we walked around the Karen village to see how the families spend their time around the forests and rice paddies. One memorable stop was with an older woman making tapestries using a traditional weaving method. It was amazing to see her in action, and interesting to hear how difficult it is for her to teach the younger generation the older skills.
Our day concluded with a Khantoke dinner back in Chiang Mai. A khantoke is a short round table tray used for serving food in traditional northern Thai style. We were served phenomenal Thai Curry dishes, vegetables, meats, and a few vegetarian options for Julia. Every time one of our side dishes went empty, a server would bring out a brand new one. I think I ended up eating three or four bowls of the Thai chicken curry.
After dinner, the show began. We got to see an entertaining production with traditional Thai dances, music, and costumes. It was the perfect way to end our day of exploration.