Chiang Mai / Doi Ang Khang is located 170 km north of Chiang Mai city, in the district of Fang, and borders with Burma (Myanmar). Despite its relative closeness to the town of Tha Ton, and specifically Tha Ton temple, which is extremely popular among tourists – Doi Ang Khang area remains a hidden gem, unseen by most visitors, yet highly popular among locals. Crowds of them come to visit the place during the winter (November – January) to experience the cold weather and enjoy the beautiful landscape, particularly during the sunrise and sunset time. The highest point of Doi Ang Khang towers to some 1,928 meters above the sea level.
In the past, the place was covered with opium fields, that grew thanks to the work of local tribes,but today you will find here various crops that fit the cool, local weather during most of the year: coffee and apple plantations, strawberry fields, plantations, pears, plums, along with many other vegetables and flowers.
King Rama 9 visited the place in 1969 and decided to establish an agricultural research center on site – Ang Khang Royal Agricultural Station – which is nowadays, one of the main attractions in the area. The aim of the agricultural station was to teach the local tribe people new types of agriculture, that replaced the opium crops, and functioned as a new livelihood source for the locals. Today, the place abounds with impressive farms, marvelous gardens and beautiful landscapes – among the most impressive in Thailand. This is certainly a place to visit! It’s worth the while despite (and some would say because) of its location – off the grid, beyond the popular and common tour routes in the area.
A Brief Review of Several Attractions You’ll Find in Doi Ang Khang Area
Ang Khang Royal Agricultural Station is one of the main local attractions, and a lovely place to visit. The large area features comfortable walking paths, gardens of roses and Bonsai, wide plantations and various crops as well as coffee shops and restaurants. I highly recommend the excellent Clubhouse Restaurant which is designed in a classic British fashion, where you can enjoy great food prepared on site from local organic crops. There is also a lovely Café there, where the staff will be happy to serve you with excellent coffee and tea, made from local crops and accompanied by delicious cakes.
You can explore the place by foot or rent a bicycle, and even spend the night in bungalows on site. Most of them feature balconies so you can lay back and enjoy the fresh, cool air and beautiful landscape that surrounds you.
Kiu Lom vantage point – another one of the main attractions in the area that attracts many Thai citizens, who come to watch the wonderful local sights during the sunset and particularly when the sun rises, as clouds cushion the valleys and the mountain tops stick out, towering above. It is an exceptional, marvelous sight indeed.
The Thai visitors spend the nights in hundreds of tents that are scattered around the place or in many humble resorts that are available on site – which was our accommodation as well. The visitors are all dressed in thick, colorful winter clothes, and the place seems like one big celebration. During the evening, a small market is available, as well as simple local restaurants and stands that sell steaming hot tea.
During the early morning hours and particularly before the sunrise, the entire large audience gathers around in the vantage point area, equipped with cameras. The crowd waits patiently for the sunrise, which provides breathtaking views and images. We too joined them in the experience – so check out the results in the attached clip.
The villages Khop Dong and Ban No Lae are both completely authentic, and populated by the Hill Tribe. Khop Dong village is populated by Lahu Tribe and No Lae, which borders with Burma (Myanmar), is home to the Palaung tribe, whose members are dressed in traditional, colorful clothes. The place features stalls and stands with crafts made by the locals, and a small military base in the border point.
In conclusion: the area is unique and distinctly different in its nature and atmosphere, compared to the common tourist destinations in Chiang Mai area, that are often packed full of visitors. Doi Ang Khang offers spectacular landscapes and a local, authentic feel. Please consider that the place is full of Thai visitors during Thailand’s high season and that most resorts are simple and humble. One exception is the only good resort in the area – Ang Khang Natural Resort, and it is highly recommended to book your room a sufficient time in advance. For you independent travelers and drivers y – bear in mind that the route is narrow and full of twists and turns, which requires excellent driving skills, whether you are driving up or down the road.
My opinion: highly recommended for those who want to explore and experience the ‘unseen’ yet beautiful area of Chiang Mai, which is unknown and untraveled by most tourists.
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♦ Here you can watch two clips I took on site
♣ Check out the attached clip of Doi Ang Khang area which I took on site…Enjoy!