Bamboo Nest de Chiang Rai perfectly blends my love of coziness with off the beaten track adventure. Bamboo cottages are scattered on a hillside in the mountains of Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand, overlooking terraced rice patties and a lush landscape.
Although just 23 kilometers from Chiang Rai city, you are off the grid. There’s no electricity or wifi. There’s a Lahu hill tribe village down the road, and you are walking distance to Lam Nam Kok National Park.
Bamboo Nest is a mountain guesthouse that’s ideal for a peaceful, off the beaten track Thailand vacation. I would recommend it to people who want the restfulness of a retreat with the adventure of an off the grid, rustic getaway.
Bamboo Nest Accommodations
The bamboo huts are build by local craftsmen using traditional methods and designs. They have bamboo flooring and walls, a bamboo balcony with a bamboo hammock, and a thatched roof.
There are cabins of different sizes for one to four people. The beds are comfortable, and equipped with a princess like mosquito netting. (How are mosquito nettings so gorgeous??) The accommodations are beautiful in their simplicity.
Each hut has it’s own bathroom and shower with running water. Although there is no electricity, the huts have light at night from solar power. You are as close to the stunning mountain countryside outside as you can be while still being comfortable, clean, and protected from the elements.
Bamboo Nest Setting
The huts dot a steep hillside in the mountains north of Chiang Rai. The balconies overlook rice terraces, corn fields, and thick jungle. The Greater Coucal, a large black and copper bird, makes a hoo-hoo-hoo sounds that echoes from the forest. Gecko friends are always around: they’re easy to spot chilling on the walls and ceilings. The dogs are friendly and vaccinated!
The mountains of Thailand are populated by various hill tribes: ethnic minorities with their own languages, customs and culture different from the majority Thai culture. The tribes live in the mountains that span China, Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos.
A Lahu hill tribe village is located 200 meters away, on the dirt road leading to Bamboo Nest. The houses are elevated, and the space under the house is protected from the rain and used for drying clothes, cooking dinner, and keeping animals. Solar power and radio dishes are common. The dogs here are unlikely to be vaccinated, so be aware and don’t touch the animals!
Bamboo Nest employs the local villagers to build the huts and run the restaurant. A Lahu woman cooked all of our meals, which explained why she just kind of laughed when I would thank her in Thai. I wish I figured that out earlier: I would have tried to learn a couple words in Lahu!
Food at Bamboo Nest
Breakfast and dinner are included in your reservation, which is convenient because there’s aren’t exactly restaurants or grocery stores amid the rice terraces and jungle. You can also purchase lunch from the open air Bamboo Nest restaurant.
For breakfast there’s a mini buffet with toasted bread, oatmeal, and fruit. You can get fried or scrambled eggs. There’s tea and coffee.
For dinner, you are bombarded with local and Thai dishes. (In a good way)! Seriously, there’s rice, a curry, a fried vegetable dish, a stir fry meat situation, and a giant plate of fresh fruit. You can stuff yourself silly. One night we had bamboo shoots picked from earlier that day! The food is delicious and plentiful, allowing you to try many traditional local dishes.
Outdoor Activities around Bamboo Nest
Bamboo Nest de Chiang Rai is located at the edge of Lam Nam Kok National Park. This provides great opportunities for hiking and exploring the jungle.
I recommend hiking to Huay Keaw Waterfall. You can ask for directions: they’ll be written on a piece of paper and involve things like turning left at the big tree, and continuing past the small hut. It’ll all part of the adventure!
The hike takes you past rice terraces and corn fields, through dense jungle, and into an Akha village. There you can buy some hand-made crafts and water, and continue up the hill to the waterfall. In the rainy season, when I was there, the waterfall is impressive! Woven bamboo bridges span the roaring water under the waterfall. I was getting some serious Gandalf vibes. The hike is about 3 kilometers, hilly, and slick and muddy in the rainy season.
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Other outdoor activities include hiking to a hot springs, the Mae Kok River, and a Tea Plantation. I didn’t personally do these, so I can’t comment except to say that trekking through the jungle in Northern Thailand is always an adventure, and coming back to a shower and cozy shelter afterwards is even better!
More organized activities are also available: you can get a guide to take you trekking, go off roading on a 4×4, get a cooking lesson with bamboo, or take a bamboo weaving class. I preferred to explore on my own, so again I can’t speak from personal experience, but if you want more of an organized activity or lesson, they are available.
When to go to Bamboo Nest
The weather in Northern Thailand is binary: it’s either rainy or dry. I personally loved traveling in the rainy season, and think that it made the experience feel even more adventurous!
The rainy season in Thailand is June through October. You can expect daily rainfall, as well as muddy roads and trails. The rain will pour for an hour or two every day.
March through May is the dry season. The temperature is the hottest, and the weather is dry. In March and April, farmers burn the countryside to prepare for planting, so the air might be hazy.
November through February is the winter season. The weather is dry, but the temperature is a bit cooler then the dry season. February seems like a cool month to visit, as the Lahu Tribe celebrates the New Year that month. There’s dancing around a fire until late in the night, which sounds amazing! I might have to come back! 🙂
How Much Does it Cost to Stay at Bamboo Nest
- One person cottage 1,100 Thai Baht or $33.30 per night
- Two person cottage 1,400 Thai Baht or $42.38 per night
- Three person cottage 2,000 Thai Baht or $60.55 per night
- Four person cottage 2,800 Thai Baht or $84.77 per night
Prices include breakfast and dinner, as well as pickup from Chiang Rai. All cottages come with a private bathroom and shower, and a balcony with a bamboo hammock overlooking the rice terraces.
You can book your stay through the email available on their website. Note that they only accept cash, so bring enough when you go!
What to Bring to Bamboo Nest
My Southeast Asia packing list will cover all of your bases.
Focus on loose, breathable clothing. A hat and sunscreen for protection from the sun. If going in the rainy season, definitely bring a poncho and hiking shoes you don’t mind getting wet and muddy.
The mosquitos assemble for attack at sunset, so be sure to bring bug spray and longer pants and sleeves.
A headlamp is very useful for getting to your hut at night.
A kindle is a great travel investment. Reading on the bamboo hammock as the rain crashed down all around you was unbelievably cozy! There’s no wifi, and a book is excellent off the grid entertainment.
Getting to Bamboo Nest
Bamboo Nest is located 23 km north of Chiang Rai. The easiest way to get there is to get a free pick up from the main Chiang Rai bus station. That is the option we chose, and we were super glad we did as the driver expertly maneuvered up 40 degree hills and muddy roads! (Even walking on those roads was scary, you feel like you’re going to slide down!)
You can also get there by motorbike, which I wouldn’t recommend unless you feel very comfortable on one, especially in the rainy season. The roads are steep and muddy, and like I said, even walking on them felt chancy.
Bamboo Nest: Final Verdict
Bamboo Nest de Chiang Rai is a great off the beaten track hideaway in Northern Thailand. It’s remote and adventurous, as well as peaceful and relaxing. Surrounded by natural beauty, the elegant bamboo cottages are so cozy and inviting!
For someone whose love of adventure equals my love of nesting and coziness, this is my perfect getaway! There’s no wifi or electricity, so keep that in mind, especially if you’re someone who prefers to be connected to the outside world in during your holidays.
If you enjoy a serene, off the beaten track vacation, however, I would 100% recommend Bamboo Nest.