With The Karens In A Land Of Rice

Thailand Mountain Trail has spent several years in contact of the hill tribes to investigate the trails in the mountains of the North. In 2015 we revived many routes previously used for communicating between mountain villages and create TGR1. The 1st Thai Great Route is the longest hiking footpath of Thailand; it links Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao.

This 2-day trip will lead us to the 1st part of TGR1 in Karen areas. Karens are the biggest tribe in Thailand. Originally from Myanmar, they moved to Thailand during the 20th century and settled in the low mountains when they grow rice and vegetables. We recommend this trip from July to November during the rainy season when Karens plant and harvest rice. We could enjoy the magnificent landscapes of terraced rice fields.

Characteristics of the Trip

5,350 THB

All-inclusive price
2 Days
1 Peak
Trek & Discover

50% single-track trail / 50% double-track trail
Tropical forest, jungle, rice fields
Highlights: Karen village of Mae Kha Piang, Temple of Wat Prabat Si Roi
1 Night accommodation in a Karen village
Start: Pang Hai (1-hour transfer)
Finish: Pha Taek (1-hour transfer back)
Duration: 6-7 hours a day
Including accommodation, drinks, meals, transfers, guide
Additional night in Chiang Mai on request
Available all year round
Meeting point: TMT office (Chiang Mai)

1st Day 10K & 650M+

The 1st part of the trip starts in a deep jungle on an old path used by Karen tribes to communicate between 2 villages. The trail has mostly disappeared because it is not used anymore by locals. In the 1st village we reach, we find a local guide to help us to cross the jungle without any major difficulties. The machete won’t be useless to move forward through this challenging environment.

After a couple of kilometers, the trail opens again. We appreciate to leave the deep jungle; it is like breathing again after plunging into the green wilderness. We barely have the time to enjoy the new atmosphere when, after a turn on the left, we discover the first rice paddies. We hike through several fields and might be lucky to meet and discuss with locals famers.

When we see the first roofs of the houses, the Karen village of Mae Kha is not far away. It’s a wonderful place to stay overnight. People live simply and are happy to welcome us; they live in deep contact with nature. After enjoying a deserved shower directly at a waterfall, we will share a meal for dinner with local families. We will sleep in comfortable wood houses besides the rice fields.

2nd Day 15K & 750M+

In the morning of the 2nd day we particularly appreciate the unique scenery on fields at sunrise while having breakfast. We quit the village with regret by one of its mountain slopes, gradually leaving its wattle and daub roofs behind us. From this view point, the scenery is wonderful: far below are the terraced rice fields of the village, all around is a beautiful and luxuriant tropical forest, and further down is the valley of Chiang Mai.

We trek again through rice paddies in an enchanting atmosphere. Crossing the terraced fields requires some skills; to walk across the strips of grass without falling, we have to learn how to keep our balance. After we pass the last field, the route starts to rise again until we reach the summit of Doi Pha Dam. On the way down when the forest opens, we are surprised to see the beautiful temple of Wat Prabat Si Roi that emerges suddenly from the trees in the valley.

The last part of the trip leads us down the mountains to the Karen valley of Pha Daeng. On the way down we enjoy some nice views on the green hills around. Finally we arrive in the small valley. It’s a beautiful place with hills around, rice fields down the river and beautiful tropical forests all around. We finish the trip in the Karen village of Pha Taek where we take a taxi back to Chiang Mai.

Accommodation in a Karen village

After the 1st day of run, we will reach Mae Kha Piang while the sun is releasing its hold on runners’ body. We will immediately appreciate the quietness, the freshness as the beauty of this Karen village surrounded by jungle and paddies. The cold shower in a waterfall in the village, the reception and the smile of its inhabitants, the delicious food and the night in local wood houses will help us to get strength back before the 2nd day of our trip.