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Ban Rak Thai – a Chinese village in Thailand

by Mario

Ban Rak Thai (Mae Aw) is one of those exceptional places you should consider including in your travel plans in Thailand. Especially if you’re opting for a journey along one of Thailand’s most famous and spectacular road loops, the Mae Hong Son Loop (600km). Why?

Located approximately 30 km north of Mae Hong Son town, this quaint Chinese village is renowned for its breathtaking views and tea plantations. Due to its remote location, the village remains relatively unknown to tourists, making it a less crowded destination.

Ojciec z córkami na wzgórzach herbacianych w Ban Rak Thai

Journey back in time to Ban Rak Thai

The idea of visiting Ban Rak Thai occurred to us even before embarking on the renowned twists and turns of the Mae Hong Son Loop. This Chinese village in Thailand is situated practically on the border with Burma, in quite rugged terrain. To get there, you’ll have to navigate numerous steep curves, accompanied by a sense of solitude as you likely won’t encounter anyone along the way. However, once you reach this Chinese village, you’ll momentarily forget you’re in Thailand.

jezioro Ban Rak Thai z tratwami i polami herbacianymi na wzgórzach

Ban Rak Thai was founded, like many border areas in Thailand, by Chinese immigrants. This particular village was established by soldiers from the 96th Division of the Chinese National Army fleeing Mao Zedong’s communist revolution. It’s these Chinese influences and distinct separation from the rest of the country that make you feel as if you’ve truly stepped outside of Thailand.

dzieci idące ulicą w Ban Rak Thai

It’s a peculiar feeling. Your mind knows you’re in Thailand, but your eyes see something entirely different. You won’t find pad thai or fried rice in the restaurants here. Instead, you’ll discover a plethora of delicious Chinese dishes. We recommend visiting Lee Wine Yunnan Restaurant and trying one of their tasting menus. Be warned, the portions are huge, so choose wisely. Additionally, vegetarians might struggle as most dishes here are pork-based. You can find the restaurant on our map along with other attractions in Ban Rak Thai.

jezioro Ban Rak Thai z tratwami i polami herbacianymi na wzgórzach

Lake and Tea – Ban Rak Thai Attractions

Ban Rak Thai has its own microclimate due to its location. Even in the middle of the scorching summer, it’s relatively cool there for Thailand, and mornings are usually misty. Witnessing the morning mist is worth getting out of bed for around 6:00. This specific microclimate gives Ban Rak Thai an unforgettable character. Completing the scenery is the lake surrounded by hillside homes, which in turn are enveloped by tea bushes.

Dziewczyna na tratwie na jeziorze w Ban Rak Thai

One of the attractions in Ban Rak Thai is taking a ride on a bamboo raft across the lake. During this one-hour journey, you’ll be served the local variety of tea – oolong. This beverage is yet another highlight of Ban Rak Thai.

Pola herbaty w Ban Rak Thai
kobiety zbierające liście herbaty w ban rak thai

What’s truly impressive is that the entire village, along with the tea plantations, is nestled on the hillsides, providing a beautiful view from the lake. If you want a closer look at the tea plantations, we recommend entering the Lee Wine Ruk Thai Resort area. Typically, the hotel staff agrees to let you stroll along the main pathways without entering the hotel cottages.

czarki na wino w ban rak thai

Royal Park – Pang Oung

If you make it to Ban Rak Thai, chances are you have your own means of transportation. Therefore, you can dedicate three hours to visiting the nearby Royal Park Pang Oung. It’s another peaceful oasis with yet another lake. Pang Oung is a popular camping spot, though mainly for Thais. Here, too, you can take a ride on a bamboo raft, which we didn’t miss out on. Even in the rain that caught us in the middle of the lake, the park left a huge impression on us! Unfortunately, we couldn’t explore much of the park itself as it’s closed to tourists during the rainy season.

Pang Oung z drona, bambusowe tratwy na jeziorze
domek na wodzie w parku w królewskim parku Pang Oung

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