Chiang Mai, Thailand
All too often, while visiting the “hill tribe” areas of northern Thailand, visitors can be discomforted by the notion their presence in such culturally fragile parts of the world is contributing little to the host community – or that it might even be hastening the destruction of the very way of life one has come to experience. Such misgivings, however, are misplaced at properties created by the award-winning company, Asian Oasis.
Local villagers were actively involved in the setting up of both the Lisu Lodge, in the hills outside Chiang Mai, and its sister concern, Lanjia Lodge, further north in the Golden Triangle region above Chiang Rai. The design, construction methods and materials used to build the bungalows take their cue from local minority cultures, creating accommodation of unique character. Beautifully woven, embroidered and tie-dyed fabrics adorn the bamboo walls and beds of the eco-lodges which, though simple, are fragrant, earthy and very comfortable.
A range of different activities are laid on for guests during the day, and these yield compelling insights into both local ways of life and the natural environment: trekking, rice field visits, white water rafting and cycle tours are all on the menu, along with birdwatching trips, led by expert guides drawn from local communities.
Moreover, a percentage of the profit from the lodges is re-invested in schemes to help local people flourish. Heart warming, inspirational and hugely enjoyable, stays at Asia Oasis places invariably number among the highlights of tailor-made tours to this fascinating region, and are all the more satisfying for helping to preserve the unique cultures of the Thailand’s hill minorities.