Camping With Your Kids in Northern Thailand · DAY 2 · 2 Day Itinerary

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! ·

DAY 2 

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.

Sunrise! Totally worth it!
At 8 am, we gratefully greeted the nice woman in the kitchen, who now had hot water ready to be mixed with instant coffee and tea. We eagerly drank and ate our breakfast, then talked about the day ahead.

Hike up to Baan Khun Chang Kian village

I’d read about a smaller, less visited village we could visit that was 3 km from our campsite, and discovered that there was a small coffee farm on the way, where we could enjoy a cup of home-grown coffee! So we packed our day packs, and headed off down the road toward Baan Khun Chang Kian village.
I knew we could easily walk the 6 km round trip in a day, but the steep incline just outside of camp had all three of us hoping someone might be willing to stop and give us a ride back up!
The walk was beautiful and the road (a combination of broken asphalt, dirt and gravel) was traveled primarily by motorbikes and scooters, whose drivers opted to repeatedly honk as they neared each blind turn, instead of actually slowing down.

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.

There was a line of dirt bikes parked by the entryway, and as we came down to the old wooden patio, we saw a group of men to whom they belonged. Dressed in riding gear and visiting animatedly, they all spoke English, but it was English flavored with German, Australian, and American (Southern) accents. They were just finishing up and putting on their gloves and helmets as they readied for the balance of their tour.
Once they left, we had the place to ourselves!

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!

We learned that the village was not much further down the road, so now reinvigorated, we continued on our journey.

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.

Photo courtesy of Barbara De Benedetto

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

The next morning, we asked the fellow at the visitor center if he could call for a songthaew to take us back down to Chiang Mai. Packing up was easy, because the camp takes care of the gear, so we spent our last half hour taking in the city view and reflecting on our adventure.

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!

Photo courtesy of Anna Faustino. Website: Adventure in You
Camping in northern Thailand was an unexpected and unique experience!  The cool high altitude temperatures and the spectacular natural beauty provide a welcome respite from the bustling city below.
When you make plans to visit Doi Suthep National Park, be sure allow a few days so you can take time to explore all the area has to offer.

What to bring

  • Clothes (layers best) and socks, hats and gloves, the nights are cool/cold year round.
  • Toiletries, towel, and some TP
  • Headlamps
  • 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


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