Haven’t you ever thought about how cool it would be to live, or at least sleep for a few nights, in the trees? Did you have a childhood fascination with treehouses…even maybe building one of your very own? We both have, as it turns out, a very long running fantasy of building a treehouse community, much like the one that our friends the Ewoks in Star Wars live in. So when we completely incidentally came across one such place just a couple hours from a little traveling hiatus in Thailand? Oh yes, we knew that we couldn’t pass it up – especially since it was halfway between where we were and where we intended on heading.
Wiang Pa Pau is a quaint little town that sits south of Chiang Rai (which is famous for its quite unexpected White Temple) and north of Thailand’s traveler oasis, Chiang Mai. It is the hometown of a famous Thai chef, whose restaurant in Toronto, Canada draws in quite the crowd. Sasi Meechai spends about half her year cooking away amazing dishes in frigid weather, and the rest of her time back with her family on their property which has become a great little escape not just for her, but for travelers like us who need some peace, quiet, and good family-style cooking.
We spent two weeks at Treetop Resort in a bungalow at tree level, built from bamboo, connected by bamboo walkways that resemble some very fun swinging bridges we’ve all encountered at some point in our adventures. Three awesome home-cooked meals each day combined with a wonderful tour of the area gave us our first fully authentic Thai experience after six weeks in country. The Thai tourist maps are well-etched, and don’t allude to anything worth the detour in Wiang Pa Pau…yet. We believe Treetop Resort will change that rather quickly.
Recently we asked Treetop’s Program Manager, Matt Silverstein, to answer a few questions about what this little gem offers the tired traveler, and here’s what he wants you to know the next time you’re thinking of being in the area. We can attest: IT IS WORTH YOUR TIME!
Directly from Matt, here’s the lowdown on Treetop Resort:
- We have capacity for 15 bodies or so, offering space for backpackers who simply want an authentic village experience with local people in a local community. We also have the volunteer program (see below for more details) for people who want to work in the community.
- We have a new tiny little house/room that is only 150 Thai Baht (around $5 USD) per night; it can fit just 1 person.
- Our all-inclusive rate for people to stay here is (USD) $120 for 1 week, $230 for 2 weeks, $340 for 3 weeks, $440 for 1 month. That includes 3 meals per day, water, coffee, private room with private toilet/washroom. Of course, I include a little tutorial and tour of the village, culture, and language, as well as help the first day at the school in getting comfortable (for the volunteer program).
- When people are coming as couples or groups prices can be negotiable.
- We also offer authentic private Thai cooking classes, day trips to waterfalls, mountains, visits to our local monk’s residence, etc.
A little background on us:
Treetop Country was started by Sasi and her husband Alland as a way to create something to give back to the community that she came from and that they love. It is a project that is meant to open this community up and provide opportunities for the village to grow and a mini economy surrounding the project to form.
Treetop is employing several local people and that number will grow as it grows. There is an organic farm project at both Treetop Country itself and at one of the schools that we work with; volunteers are contributing to the school’s organic project, which will provide sustainable food for the school kids!
Why we need English-speaking volunteers:
Teaching English is paramount to efforts here as it will open up the world for the kids at our 2 affiliate schools.
Many of the children and their families cannot afford to go to private schools and thus will never have the opportunity to learn English if not through volunteers. It makes a huge difference in their futures and the opportunities they will have as they come of age.
We help local kids from the school who have major social/financial/health issues. We raised money and dug into Treetop’s pocket to buy a local boy with Cerebral Palsey an electronic scooter to get around in. We are now working on helping out a 9-year old girl at the school who has HIV and her family is struggling badly with money. In short, we have many opportunities for volunteers to come and assist us in making a difference locally with the projects we are involved in.
How to arrive to Treetop?
Treetop Country is neatly hidden right within the village, so it is hard for people to find. When people sign up for the volunteer program it includes a pickup by our driver from the Chiang Mai airport.
If people are trying to find us on their own, they must take a bus from either Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai city to “Otop Wiang Pa Pao” station. If they let us know before-hand that they are coming, by messaging us through the website, we will pick them up free of charge from the bus stop in town.
If you’re interested in some gourmet meals at an unheard of price, replete with great company and many local, authentic experiences, contact Matt and the Treetop Community at the below avenues. We’re sure you’ll love it as much as we did!
For more amazing eco lodging around the world, check out our Eco-Friendly Places to Stay page!