While camping with your kids in Doi Suthep National Park, visit a remote Hmong village and enjoy a cup of coffee in a tiny mountainside cafe · Read about DAY 1 here! ·
I awoke before sunrise and headed out in search of coffee, only to find other early risers also seeking hot beverages. The concession’s posted hours let us know that we’d all have to wait more than an hour before any
coffee hot water + instant coffee/tea would be available, so I headed down to the nearby pavilions to enjoy the quiet and read by headlamp.
Shortly before sunrise, I nudged the children out of their sleeping bags, bribing them with sweet breakfast treats I’d brought along in my pack. I helped bundle them up and we wandered down to one of the three viewing pavilions to watch the sunrise.
Hike up to Baan Khun Chang Kian village
Coffee, coffee, and more coffee!
The kids were ready to take a break at about 2.5 km, when we saw verdant green hillsides covered with coffee plants. We lived next to coffee farms in Costa Rica, but had never seen coffee plants this big and healthy!
Suddenly, hand-hewn wooden structures and shelters, with coffee beans drying on racks outside, came into view. We picked up the pace and almost jogged toward the much-needed treat! The coffee stand we came to serves arabica coffee that is grown at the nearby Khun Chang Kian Highland Agriculture Research Center. It’s overseen by the Agricultural Faculty of Chiang Mai University.
At the top of the next incline we saw a sign for ‘Fresh coffee’ and heard voices drifting up from a small covered patio below.
We found a table in the corner that overlooked a lush green mountainside of coffee plants covered with bright red ripe berries.
The coffee was served up by a villager from the nearby village, and it came with some slightly sweet sesame biscuits. The kids and I made quick work of our first cups (that we’d sweetened with abandon) and and voraciously drank down another!
Baan Khun Chang Kian village
Unlike the more touristy Doi Pui village we’d stopped at the day before, this high mountain village takes more determination and effort to reach. It has only maybe a dozen visitors each day, unless the local cherry trees are in bloom, during the end of December to mid February.
We wandered around the village with its’ rustic houses, built with wood and bamboo walls, and thatched or rusted metal roofs.
The dust from the dirt roads seemed to permeate everything, giving the village a weathered look, but the simple rustic houses and yards were well-kept. The villagers took little notice of us as they attended to daily chores.
We even found one family grinding corn at the community mill, which consisted of a hollowed out log half and a well-worn stone.
We purchased a few hand crafted items and a bag of local coffee and headed back to camp.
The coffee we had at the village, gave us a needed burst energy to make it back uphill to the campground. We made it to the base of the last steeper incline and took a water break, when suddenly some locals stopped and offered us a ride in the back of their small truck! It was the perfect end to a full day of exploration.
DAY 3 – Back to the city
As we boarded the songthaew, we asked our driver to stop at the Huey Kaew waterfall, just outside of Chiang Mai, so we could hop out and check out the waterfall.
Back to Chiang Mai
Riding home, we looked out the back door of the songthaew, at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep’s golden chedi, perched on the high on the mountainside. Talking excitedly about our amazing weekend adventure, we promised each other that we’d definitely return to camp in Doi Suthep National Park again one day!
What to bring
- Clothes (layers best) and socks, hats and gloves, the nights are cool/cold year round.
- Toiletries, towel, and some TP
- Sturdy shoes or sport sandals, good for hiking and exploring
- Bottled water, snacks, (adult beverages,) and any other packable food items you’d like to have
- Phone and handheld map/guide of the area (GPS may not be available)
- Small first aid kit (with White Flower Oil, prevents motion sickness.)
- Your sense of adventure!
Pura vida, Penny