It’s easy to see why visitors fall in love with Fang at first glance. This enigmatic town, surrounded by clusters of wooden houses, between lush forest and dense tea plantations on the serene hillsides of northern Thailand, seems infused with an idyllic clarity. Step into the centre, and the cool mountain air gives way to a community warmth that envelopes you with a sense of immediate belonging…
Our visits to Fang often start at one of our favourite spots, the Phumanee Lahu Home Hotel. This small, family-run bed and breakfast encapsulates Fang’s spirit and success, its founder (the current owner’s father) having pushed forwards positive economic and social change in the town during the mid-20th century. Step through the doors, and you’ll find a friendly welcome, comforting rooms and an enviable sense of pride in their fascinating history.
Following a restful night, you’ll set out from Fang towards the satellite village of Doi Pu Muen. The last stretch must be travelled on foot, and as you emerge into the village centre at your own pace, you’ll experience a rare stillness.
A local guide will greet you with a smile and lead you to the tea plantations, where you’ll help to harvest the crop that brings the region increased financial freedom. The tea picking is methodical and intricate, lulling you into a hypnotic calm as you select the best leaves amid the refreshing mountain air.
With a full basket, you’ll head back to see how the tea is roasted to create the perfect flavour, before enjoying a well-earned cuppa and home-cooked lunch with your local hosts.
Each visit to the region brings something new, from learning to cook the local sweet, sticky rice, to making and repairing the bamboo tea baskets. Perhaps spend a leisurely hour or so by the magical Phu Muen waterfall, deep in the surrounding forest, or take on the challenging 3-hour trek back to the village.
However your experience of Fang unfolds, it will be immediate and immersive, plunging you into the rich culture, traditions, outlook and ambiance of this extraordinary area of northern Thailand.