A real treat during our last visit to Chiang Mai was the offer from our local guest house owner to guide us up into the mountains west of the city to a local Hmong village. While we took our own car up the mountain, we had to park it at the Bhuping Palace and continued the bumpy mountain road in a pick-up truck from the Hmong village. The drive itself was already exciting since we went up into the clouds and the rain forest of Doi Pui mountain. Somewhere along the way we stopped to have locally grown coffee and of course we bought some to take home.
Our destination on the mountain was Khun Chang Kian, a village of White Hmong people, who live up here on the mountain and who support themselves with a tiny bit of tourism, local coffee plantations and of course jobs down in the valley. So far it has been the most non-tourist village of all the mountain tribes I have visited. I have even been to villages in Chiang Rai province where the tourists dressed up as mountain people for a photo shoot! How crazy is that?
A beautiful and quiet village, with pre-schools and grade schools, small coffee shops and I have seen one or two wooden buildings which sell local products, however without being pushy. In fact we took the whole walk through the village without being approached by the locals, unless we initiated the conversation.
A really nice experience as a whole day trip, including Bhuping Palace and the craziness of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in the late afternoon. Not cheap, but very well worth it, thanks to the vast amount of knowledge from our local friend.