Top 4 Eco-Travel Destinations In Chiang Mai

From strolling through blooming Sakura trees to hand-painting umbrellas, Chiang Mai is an eco-traveler’s paradise.

Eco-Travel Destinations In Chiang Mai
Instagram: man_gaaa

Ecotourism is not only the act of appreciating nature, but also shows how mother nature has helped villages thrive. From strolling through blooming Sakura trees to hand-painting umbrellas, Chiang Mai is an eco-traveler’s paradise. Have the chirping of cockereals as your alarm clock, beginning a day of zip lining and hiking. Learn more about umbrellas, the cultural symbol of Chiang Mai, in a quaint village. Scale mountains and swim in hot springs less than an hour away from your hotel. Here are four eco-travel places that show how Chiang Mai lives up to its nickname, “Rose of the North.”

1. Baan Mae Kampong

Baan Mae Kampong
INSTAGRAM @birdwing

Located an half an hour away from the city, Mae Kampong is teaching locals and tourists how to lead a sustainable lifestyle. The village of 300 persons encourage tourists to take part in home stays. Villagers hosting home stays teach guests their way of life and culture. They show how the village thrived on the creation of a delicacy formed from fermented leaves. The first famers came 200 years ago, hoping to grow tea. The roots of agriculture and sustainability have been part of the beating heart of the small community for more than 100 years. Staying in a rustic, genuine home, visitors are immersed in a lifestyle that seems like it’s from another era. Wake to the song of cockereals and home-cooked food. Walk through the emerald forests and sit by the Mae Kampong Falls which is bursting with mountain pools. Zip line through the trees or drink coffee at a cafe that overlooks the lush greenery.

Locals hardly leave the mountain, as they believe wildlife and forests provide for all their needs. In the late 1900s, they began to use steam to create hydro-electric power. The home stays also aid the villagers in providing revenue to support local projects.

Home stays will cost 600 Baht per room (USD $19.19). You can request a room at homes with a “homestay” sign.

2. Doi Inthanon National Park

Doi Inthanon National Park,
UNSPLASH Bharath Mohan

Nicknamed “the roof of Thailand,” the park hosts the nation’s highest mountain. The park is full of waterfalls, off-beat trails, secluded villages and gorgeous gardens. Known for its high humidity and chilly temperatures, the park is another world from the Old City. Entering the area, lush evergreens and pine cover the grounds. Serows and wild boars are sometimes spotted roaming the vicinity. Walk the summit of Doi Ithanon for scenic views and many waterfalls cresting the cliffs. Scale the mountain in the morning, as the summit faces east for the sunrise. Another Instagram-must-do on your list should be the blossoms of the Siamese sakura flowers. Sakura trees cover the park in a luscious pink during the months of January and February. Visit the pagodas of the king and queen, or scale the breathtaking waterfalls. Forgot to bring sunscreen? Stroll through the Mae Pan Nature Trail with the trees giving you shade and coverage.

The park is the quintessential place for birdwatching. There are over 300 species resting among the branches of trees, some of which are rare and exotic. Spot the green-tailed sunbirds, maroon oriole and bar-throated minla flying above their emerald habitat. The best time to visit is from March to May, during the bird migration to Thailand.

The park opens at 6 AM and closes at 4:30 PM. The admission fee is 300 Baht (USD $9.59) for foreigners and 150 Baht (USD $4.80) for their children. It’s 50 Baht (USD $1.60) for locals and 20 Baht (USD $0.64) for their children. Keep your tickets close to you as you will need to show them at different checkpoints.

3. The Umbrella Festival at Bor Sang

Umbrella Festival, Chiang Mai
PHOTO Wendy Hung

Come to this small village to learn about the art of umbrella making. It’s a quiet, tranquil escape from the Old City as the residents work hard on their main industry: umbrellas. Visit the town in January, when the town holds their annual Umbrella Festival. Every umbrella is made from bamboo, and is hand-painted to the artisan’s image. Visit the shops full of vibrant umbrellas, or take part in a workshop to observe the mesmerizing process of umbrella making. Artisans produce an array of hand-painted works such as tiny cocktail umbrellas and enormous parasols. Along with bamboo, the fabric on the top is made from the bark of mulberry trees and cotton. Check out the Umbrella Factory where craftsmen and women develop umbrellas from scratch.

The story behind the umbrella making lies with a traveling monk. He stopped by the village to meditate and thus decided to introduce the art of umbrella making to the locals. Now, tourists and locals can appreciate the customs and beauty that comes from the environment and enriches a village.

4. Chiang Dao Mountains

Chiang Dao Hiking