- Encounters with locals
- Place or Religious Monument
- Off the beaten track
Mae Salong feels like it's in China, despite the fact that it's closer to Myanmar. Walking down main street, I passed locals selling tea outside their houses, and a teacher at work with his students with a blackboard at the back of the class that was covered in ideograms. And indeed, we are crossing into the area where you get tea plantations, and the Chinese ancestors of its inhabitants came here at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
Mae Salong is a rather sleepy mountain resort, calm and cool - especially in winter - and, for someone like me who lives with Bangkok's clamminess all year, a bit of cool air is good. For those who like going off the beaten path, Mae Salong is a perfect base for exploring the surrounding mountains and ethnic tribes.
I was a bit surprised to meet a Frenchman who had moved there and opened a little restaurant. Some of the buildings look like chalets and with the ever present Chinese culture, sometimes you forget that you are in Thailand.
For a view over the town and the mountains, I went to the chedi of Phra Boromathat Chedi, which is the perfect finishing touch to a charming stay in the Land of Smiles.
After passing through Chiang Rai I finished my exploration of northern Thailand on a high note with a visit to the famous Golden Triangle. I decided to go on a day trip that would take me around the area.
The day began with an exploration of Mae Salong, a charming village crowned with the beautiful temple Wat Santikhiri which has a superb view over the surroundings. On my way back down I stopped to have a look at the tea plantations in the surrounding hills. Several women were at work with large picking baskets, a grueling job.
Mae Salong, like all of the mountain villages, is a peaceful harbor in the heart of luxuriant vegetation, and its picturesque authenticity makes it a pleasure to explore. From there, on to Mae Saen, with its immense Buddha and the river which separates Myanmar, Laos from Thailand.