The Karen Land Of Rice
Thailand Mountain Trail has spent several years in contact of the hill tribes to investigate the trails in the mountains of the North. In 2015 we revived many routes previously used for communicating between mountain villages and create TMT01. The 1st Thai Great Route is the longest hiking footpath of Thailand; it links Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao.
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This 2-day trip will lead us to the 1st part of TMT01 in Karen areas. Karens are the biggest tribe in Thailand. Originally from Myanmar, they moved to Thailand during the 20th century and settled in the low mountains when they grow rice and vegetables. We recommend this trip from July to November during the rainy season when Karens plant and harvest rice. We could enjoy the magnificent landscapes of terraced rice fields.
Characteristics of the Trip
5,750 THBAll-inclusive price
Trek & Discover
Finish: Wat Prabat Si Roi (1 hour transfer)
80% single-track trail / 20% double-track trail
Highlights: Rice paddies, Jungle, Karen villages, Temple
1 Night in bamboo huts in a Karen village
Duration: 5 hiking hours a day
Pick up & Drop off at your hotel (city center)
Available all year round
Recommended season: June to December
Closed: April / May
The 1st part of the trip starts in a deep jungle on an old path used by Karen tribes to communicate between 2 villages. The trail has mostly disappeared because it is not used anymore by locals. In the 1st village we reach, we find a local guide to help us to cross the jungle without any major difficulties. The machete won’t be useless to move forward through this challenging environment.
After a couple of kilometers, the trail opens again. We appreciate to leave the deep jungle; it is like breathing again after plunging into the green wilderness. We barely have the time to enjoy the new atmosphere when, after a turn on the left, we discover the first rice paddies. We hike through several fields and might be lucky to meet and discuss with locals famers.
When we see the first roofs of the houses, the Karen village of Mae Kha is not far away. It’s a wonderful place to stay overnight. People live simply and are happy to welcome us; they live in deep contact with nature. After enjoying a deserved shower directly at a waterfall, we will share a meal for dinner with local families. We will sleep in comfortable wood houses besides the rice fields.
In the morning of the 2nd day we particularly appreciate the unique scenery on fields at sunrise while having breakfast. We quit the village with regret by one of its mountain slopes, gradually leaving its wattle and daub roofs behind us. From this view point, the scenery is wonderful: far below are the terraced rice fields of the village, all around is a beautiful and luxuriant tropical forest, and further down is the valley of Chiang Mai.
We trek again through rice paddies in an enchanting atmosphere. Crossing the terraced fields requires some skills; to walk across the strips of grass without falling, we have to learn how to keep our balance. After we pass the last field, the route starts to rise again. This is the most difficult part of the trip; it’s a steep, long (and sometimes slippery) way up to the summit of Doi Pha Dam (1400m). At the top, we will stop for lunch.
On the way down when the forest starts to open again, we are surprised to see the temple of Wat Prabat Si Roi that emerges suddenly in the valley. It’s very unusual to see such a big and beautiful temple in a remote mountain area. The temple is famous for its 4 Buddha footprints. It’s also a privileged area for meditation. This will be our finish place where we take a taxi back to Chiang Mai.
After the 1st hiking day, we will reach Mae Kha Piang while the sun is releasing its hold on our bodies. We will immediately appreciate the quietness, the freshness as the beauty of this Karen village surrounded by jungle and paddies. The cold shower in a waterfall in the village, the reception and the smile of its inhabitants, the delicious food and the night in local wood houses will help us to get strength back before the 2nd day of our trip.