Stepping into Fang’s sleepy streets for the first time, you’d be forgiven for seeing nothing more extraordinary than a laid-back provincial town. It's on the road between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, and off the traditional tourist trail, and many visitors to northern Thailand won’t even have heard its name. But stand still in the gentle bustle of the inner town, and your senses might just start to tingle. The focused hum of a purposeful population reaches your ears as the cool mountain breeze brushes against your face, and you catch the scent of spiced meat cooking over an open fire.
Fang is self-assured and strong; deeply connected to an eclectic mix of local cultures, with a fierce sense of community. It is natural and unpolished, exuding the confidence of somewhere that has survived a tough past and come through tougher. A place unafraid of change, yet passionately proud of its roots. This little-known destination is a breath of fresh air.
Powered by a belief in community cohesion, Fang’s most famous cornerstone is the inimitable Phumanee Lahu Home Hotel. The history of the town and the success of the business are symbiotic, and the hotel is a beacon of the town’s passion for communal enterprise. The clue is in the name: Home. From the moment you walk through the door to be greeted enthusiastically by the staff, sometimes even the owner herself, you’ll feel like an honorary member of the family.
You’ll find this warmth and confidence throughout Fang, whether being given a meticulous lesson in tea picking on the surrounding plantations, or laughing and chatting with your hosts as you help prepare the evening meal. Spend the languid days wandering in the hills to find the small wats, gleaming jewel-like amid the trees, or soak away your worries in the hot springs at nearby Doi Pa Hom Pok National Park. Fill your belly with the comforting soft-and-crisp contrast of khao soi noodles in a fiery broth, and wash it down with refreshing, locally-grown tea.
Fang hasn’t chased tourism, and exudes the calm self-assurance of knowing that those who are meant to find the place will find it. If you slow your journey down and let the warmth of this unassuming town wash over you, it won’t be long before you’ve fallen for Fang and its deep-rooted yet forward thinking perspective. See you there soon...