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May in Mae Ai

 [ ] MAY IS the beginning of mango and Lynchee season here in Chiangmai. Although most have tasted fresh mango most Westerners have eaten only canned Lynchee. This is your chance to enjoy the delicious fruit fresh off the tree.

The best area to find fresh Lynchee is the mountain slopes between 500 and 1000 meters high surrounding Fang valley. Lynchee was used more than a decade ago to replace poppy fields of the many hill tribes of the area. Today Lynchee is the main financial crop for the hill tribe villages.

The annual Lynchee festival in Fang takes place during the second and third weekend in May. Fang is the main marketing city for Lynchee grown in the area . Hill tribe villagers unload truck loads of this delicious fruit daily in Fang until June.

The road between Thaton ( 23 km north of Fang on Hwy 1089 ) and Doi Mae Salong has many different hill tribes growing Lynchee . The 42 km road from Thaton to Mae Salong is Lynchee heaven. The tree are so fill of Lynchee. It's easy to visit these villages and pick your own Lynchee right off the tree.

The spectacular scenery combined with friendly Thai and colorfully dressed hill tribe people in the Thaton area makes the Lynchee shopping a total pleasure. Mountain bikes and motorbikes with detailed maps are available in Thaton to tour the villages. Highway 1089 winds through the hill about 20 km or so before turning up into the mountain toward Mae Salong. A one day journey by mountain bike from Thaton is a good idea. You can visit Akha, Karen, Yao, Lahu, Lisu and Shan villages, bathe in a hot spring, and take a swim in the Mae Kok river. The road is easy to bike on with little traffic.

Also , Song-thaew are passing on this road every 30 minutes. So, if you get tired you can flag one down and put the bike on top for the ride back to Thaton. Those who wish to visit Mae Salong from Thaton should rent a motorbike.

Thaton is located 172 km north of Chiangmai via Hwy 107 to Faang then Hwy 1089 for 23 kms to Thaton. Accommodations include everything from inexpensive guest houses to riverside bungalows and resorts. Long-tail boats depart daily to Chiangrai at 12:30 pm. Bamboo rafting from one to three days is also available along with treksand tours.

Seven buses a day depart to Thaton from the Chang Puak bus terminal in Chiangmai. The long-tail boats depart from Chiangrai to Thaton 10:30 a.m. daily and six buses daily from Mae Sai to Thaton.

Going to or coming from Chiangrai, a stop in Thaton is a real treat.

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