The Karen or “Pa Kaa Ka Yor” people of Mae Klang Luang migrated from Burma in 1787, settling in a fertile valley in the heart of Doi Intanon National Park. Founding families carved a terrace of emerald rice fields into the mountain landscape, which now makes a stunning first impression on guests.
The village lies at an elevation of approximately 1,200 meters above sea level, surrounded by mixed deciduous and hill evergreen forests. The climate is cool. The village is easily accessible, just off the main highway to Doi Intanon.
The highlights of Mae Klang Luang Community
“Enjoy trekking through pristine forest in Doi Intanon National Park; see how the Karen people live in harmony with nature and start the day with a cup of hot, fresh, Hill tribe coffee!”
Why is Mae Klang Luang special?
Mae Klang Luang’s rice terraces illustrate local wisdom in water management. This is just one aspect of the Karen people’s renowned traditional knowledge, which enables a harmonious coexistence with the environment. From childhood, villagers explore the forest, developing an intimate knowledge of their ‘natural supermarket’ of flora and fauna.
Local guides can explain the many uses of forest products in daily life. For example, as wild foods, herbal medicines and natural dyes. Moreover, traditional beliefs divide the forest into areas where crops can be cultivated; ‘community forests’ which can only be used to gather wild forest products; and sacred watersheds which much be strictly protected.
Mae Klang Luang also offers fascinating insights into rural development. Villagers are open to new ideas, while continuing to value and practice many elements of their traditional lifestyle. Their balanced compromise between tradition and modernisation has been assisted by The Royal Project, initiated by His Majesty the King of Thailand.
Villagers have been assisted to cultivate and sell organic coffee, as well as farm rainbow trout for sale in Chiang Mai and beyond. Visitors can visit the simple but interesting Pa Kaa Ka Yor Cultural Center, which Includes collections of the Art and History of the Karen people in the Mae Klang basin.
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Activities for guests:
- Experience nature and the daily life of the people: The villagers maintain many colorful traditions, which have been practiced for generations. Depending on the month, guests can observe or join these local activities;
- Try your hand in the terraced Paddy Fields, flower and fruit gardens: Join your local guides to look and learn, or participate in the rice cycle with the villagers, (rice is harvested from June to November). Help catch freshwater prawns from the rice fields!
- Trek into the forest: On short walks for just a couple of hours guests can enjoy the scenery, visit a local waterfall and learn about the relationship between forest and community. A longer trek to the peak of ‘Doi Hua Sua’ is also possible (4-5 hrs). Camp at the peak for an inspiring sunrise view of Lumphun province;
- Delicious, hot, fresh, Arabica coffee in the morning: This is a must-do for coffee lovers and socialites! Join the farmers for a piping hot, early morning brew!
Green Corner: People and Planet
Mae Klang Luang is located inside the boundaries of Doi Intanon National Park, making opportunities to expand the community very limited. CBT creates additional income for the villagers, reducing pressure to expand their fields and increase crop production. This helps to protect the forest.
Through CBT, the people of Mae Klang Luang have also developed new skills which have improved their quality of life. For example, community members have become better communicators. They have increased National Park authorities’ understanding of how they use traditional practices to manage resources sustainably. This has lead to better cooperation between villagers and park authorities.