The highlands in Chiang Rai are homeland to several tribes, namely Lisu, Karen, Mien, Hmong, Akha, and Lahu. In one journey to Chiang Rai, I unexpectedly arrived in two Akha villages located in the Mae Sai district.
Pha Mee Village and Ban Pha Mee are about 8 kilometers from the Mae Sai city. There are more villages around this area worthy to visit if you have two days to explore. Chiang Rai’s proximity to Laos, Myanmar, and China, and host many refugees from the neighbors. Village name boards are in Thai, English, and Chinese. The villagers migrated from the Yunnan province in China to the Mae Sai hills in 1922.
I visited without a guide. You could hire a local guide with help from a guesthouse or prearrange to explore the culture and history of the area.
Ban Pha Mee
Pha Mee village built on a hill slope with a deep gradient. The spiral shape road takes you uphill that gives you a panoramic view of the foothill cities. Simple houses on both sides of the road, a few have signs of homestay on the walls. The village has a strong community-based tourism group. As an initiative started by the late King of Thailand, Arabica coffee beans are the main crop in the area.
Morning in Pha Mee Village
The morning in Pha Mee clears up after heavy rain. Misty. The perfect lazy weather. Sadly, the weather was not on our side to hike the area. A camping ground next to the homestay looks abandon. Otherwise, maybe you could bring your camping gear.
We haven’t decided where to stay then saw the signboard of Buswa Homestay as driving up the hill. The homestay is at the end of the road surrounded by orchards. It offers a panoramic view of the valley. The best about Buswa Homestay is its location. The panoramic view of the foothill from the homestay’s yard is worth to stay for 2 to 3 days as a retreat :).
After the rain, the landscape turns mystical as clouds slowly moving in. It also a coffee shop. You can enjoy homemade food here. The homestay owners speak very limited English.
Breakfast served is porridge, pickles, and omelette.
Ban Pha Hee is 9 km from Pha Mee village. You don’t need a day to explore this hilly village. You can walk around and enjoy several cups of coffee.
I’d definitely call this village a coffee village. It hosts more than 10 coffee shops. Some even own by very young people. Stop by กาแฟยอดดอยผาฮี้ for the stunning view and cupping the highland Arabica :). Don’t forget to take a village tour!