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Head up to the ‘Thai Highlands’ and into the forest at Baan Pi Miang, Lampang

Sep 13, 2018

Stretching 400km across of a remote section of the ‘Thai Highlands’, the Phee Pan Nam Mountain range is home to dense tropical forests, sandstone peaks that rise above the clouds, and networks of gushing streams feeding some of Thailand’s major rivers. A particular point of interest in this unique area is the people who live here almost hidden away from the rest of the world, allowing their traditional cultures and ways of life to remain preserved.

One such community of local villagers can be found at Baan Pa Miang, which is comprised of a small collection of homes and simple shops surrounded by the lush Miang forest and a coffee plantation. This 2 day / 1 night trip takes you into the heart of this friendly community, which is located in Thailand’s Lampang province.

Surrounded by greenery in all directions, life at Baan Pa Miang revolves around the forest, which gets its name from the abundance of miang leaves that grow here; these are collected and used to make miang kham – a type of northern Thai snack that roughly translates into ‘one bite wrap’ (due to the fact that you can eat the little parcel all in one go!) While visiting the village, you’ll have the chance to wander through this majestic forest to find some miang leaves of your own before heading back to base to discover how to wrap, prepare and – most importantly – eat this local delicacy, which is normally filled with spices, herbs, nuts and dried shrimp.

Another community-based activity takes you to see a nearby coffee plantation that grows and sells Arabica-style coffee beans. Discover how local villagers have mastered the art of coffee growing and pick up a bag of these richly-flavored beans to take home – or grab a cup for an afternoon energy boost. It’s then back to the village to enjoy a traditional ‘Bai Sri Su Kwan’ ceremony before dinner and music with your friendly hosts.

As well as trekking through the forest, you’ll also be able to literally rise above it. The morning of the second day presents another “Extraordinary Experience” to see the sunrise and misty clouds at Giew Fin. Here, the spectacular views stretch across Lampang and into neighboring Chiang Mai province from the very top of the Phee Pan Nam Mountain Range.

If you’re planning on visiting Baan Pa Miang in the winter, green isn’t the only color you’ll see covering the countryside. The colder months from January to March are when the region’s orchid trees begin to blossom, with bright white flowers making this little hillside village even prettier. This time of year also coincides with the local ‘Bauhinia’ vegetarian festival… just remember to bring some warm clothes to stay snug at night during your One Night Stay with Locals!

To learn more about “One Night Stay with Locals” in Thailand or to book a trip for up to 10 people at a special price, please visit www.1nightstaywithlocals.com or www.facebook.com/AorSorSocial/.

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Discover the ancient traditions of Chiang Rai’s Tai Lue people at Phangha Homestay

Sep 13, 2018

A visit to Chiang Rai’s Pangha Homestay community feels like going back 100 years to a time when Thailand wasn’t even called Thailand but rather ‘Siam’, when people got around on bicycles or rickshaws rather than cars, and when hands worked all day long to make crafts and materials (instead of typing away on keyboards…)

Situated in the very north of Thailand not far from the Myanmar border, the defining feature of this community is its people, who are of Tai Lue origin, that still maintain many of the distinct cultural characteristics passed on from their ancestors to this very day. This includes a unique northern dialect, traditional fabric-made clothes with bold patterns, and a fascinating cuisine combining elements of Vietnamese, Burmese, Isaan and Lanna food. Luckily, you’ll be able to witness this interesting culture upon arrival, as you are greeted with a welcome ceremony and introduction to the community’s history and way of life. You can also taste some of their fusion-style dishes, such as Ram Fuen rice and Tai Lue pizza.

Much of the time during the afternoon of the first day has been designated for activities in and around Pangha. There is a chance to visit some of the old-age businesses and mini-factories that are still standing, including the world’s only ‘rice paper’ making center and an old tobacco curing plant. For those seeking a little more rest and relaxation from this trip, the village is also home to a herbal foot spa and ‘gold fiber’ spa.

As the sun begins to set, there’s time to head out of the village to admire the scenery looking over the Khun Nam Nang Non Mountain, as well as inspect a local rice paddy in the evening.

After enjoying dinner with the locals, it’s time to get chill out and relax in your gorgeous homestay for the night – certainly one of the highlights of this “Extraordinary Experience”. The accommodation is comprised of a large, hand-built wooden house that has been expertly renovated inside making your stay both a comfortable and memorable.

Plenty more visits and activities await the next day on this “One Night Stay with Locals” trip. After breakfast in the village, head out to participate in some knowledge-building activities, including trying your hand as a Shan’s knife smith and candle maker! There is stop-off at the pretty Kimju Guava Garden before visiting an area at the Thai-Myanmar border that is only temporarily permitted for tourists to see.

Then it’s time to go back to the community to enjoy another northern-style lunch at a local restaurant. With a full stomach, take part in the ‘Phra Singh San Chana Man’ workshop at Wat Phra San temple before bidding farewell to your Tai Lue hosts and heading home.

To learn more about “One Night Stay with Locals” in Thailand or to book a trip for up to 10 people at a special price, please visit www.1nightstaywithlocals.com or www.facebook.com/AorSorSocial/.

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Discover the best of Thailand’s southern Phatthalung province at Tamod Community

Sep 10, 2018

Thailand’s southern Phatthalung province is generally overlooked by tourists, who tend to opt for neighboring Trang or the holiday hotspots of Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga. And while this province may not boast any real beaches, there is still plenty to discover both on and off the water that runs through intertwining streams throughout the rugged landscape.

Your homestay for the night on this “One Night Stay with Locals” trip is located in the old Tamod Community, which is tucked away out of sight in the Buntad Mountain Range and near Thale Noi. The mountains and adjacent river produce some stunning scenery, which you’ll be exploring via road and kayak. The community is also well-known locally for how it uses past knowledge from floods to create suitable water management systems, which you can learn all about on this trip.

Arrive relatively early on day-one at ‘Lhad Ton Sai’ – the name of your homestay in the Tamod community. After getting acquainted with some of the friendly southern locals (and trying to understand their unique regional dialect), you head off again to pay respect to Pho Tun Chuay at Wat Tamod temple with the chance to try some tasty (and a bit smelly) fried durian at the nearby clean-energy OTOP center.

After lunch, learn more about the community’s endeavors to create a sufficient agricultural economy. This is before another “Extraordinary Experience” of the trip – kayaking along the river until dusk falls, when it’s time to watch stunning the sunset at Kuan Ta Kom (or over the reservoir). To round off a memorable evening in Phatthalung, enjoy dinner together and head back to your quaint homestay for some sleep.

In fact, you’ll probably want to hit the pillow quite early, because the early morning of day-two presents an opportunity you won’t want to miss: seeing the sun rise and the sea of morning mist rise over the mountains like a silky white blanket. This is from a lookout point at Kuan Ta Kom.

By the time you’re back down, breakfast is served at around 8.00am before heading out for more community-focused activities. These include a trip to the Apis Cerena Knowledge Center, learning how to make crispy rotis (one of the all-time favorite Southern Thai snacks) and lunch ‘Krua Roi Sai’ style at Lhad Ton Sai.

Before heading home, there is time in the afternoon to participate in a knowledge-building activity at Soon Ruam Jai Song Sasana as well squeeze in a refreshing visit to Lan Mom Jui Waterfall to beat the heat.

To learn more about “One Night Stay with Locals” in Thailand or to book a trip for up to 10 people at a special price, please visit www.1nightstaywithlocals.com or www.facebook.com/AorSorSocial/.

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Discover your inner-adventurer with a nature tour in Chulaporn Pattana 9 Tourism Community, Yala

Sep 8, 2018

The southern province of Yala offers tourists the chance to beat the crowds and truly get away from it all. This “One Night Stay with Locals” takes you to a location known as the ‘Chulaporn Pattana 9 Tourism Community’, which offers a comfortable homestay-style accommodation, amenities and other onsite learning activities. It’s also a great base to explore some of the region’s most popular attractions, including waterfalls, nature reserves and mountain trails.

The starting point of this “Extraordinary Experience” in Yala is at Sapan Kwaen, which roughly translates to the ‘hanging bridge’. This marks the gateway into the forest, where you’ll be following a nature path through to a waterfall in the morning.

After stopping for lunch, continue on foot to the beautiful Halasa Waterfall while watching out for all of the wildlife along the way. Your guide will be able to help you hear (and hopefully see) some rare hornbills that nest in this forest. At the waterfall, you’ll be greeted with crystal clear waters cascading down from the top of the limestone cliffs – from a height of over 100 meters. The waterfall is located inside one of Yala’s tropical forests called the Hala-bala Wildlife Reserve, which is home to an abundance of wildlife.

After your morning and mid-afternoon adventures come to a close, you’ll be able to escape the heat and soak up some culture at the Malayan Communist Party Historical Museum, before heading back to the community for dinner and a well-earned rest at your homestay.

On the morning of the second day, head out with the guide early, making your way up to a lofty lookout point atop Khao Hin Yok. From here, you’ll be able to observe the sea of mist that rises above the rainforest – with the songbirds and other sounds of the jungle acting as Yala’s natural alarm clock.

Following this, it’s back to base for breakfast, then pack your bags and say goodbye to your friendly local hosts.

To learn more about “One Night Stay with Locals” in Thailand or to book a trip for up to 10 people at a special price, please visit www.1nightstaywithlocals.com or www.facebook.com/AorSorSocial/.

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Stay, travel and eat with locals – ‘Southern Thai-style’ – at Trang’s Bo Hin community

Sep 8, 2018

One of Southern Thailand’s most unique canal-side communities awaits on this “One Night Stay with Locals” in Trang province. ‘Bo Hin’ is the name of the farm stay where you will be based, which provides surprisingly comfortable, waterside accommodation for groups of eight or more people.

Once you have arrived at the homestay, one of the first things that you will notice is the array of floating baskets that are bobbing on top of the water nearby. These have been made and set by the local villagers in order to catch fresh seafood that passes along the waterways linked to the sea.

After arriving in Trang in the morning,  you’ll reach the Boh Hin community and homestay just after midday. The first activity on your agenda is to take a local boat out to the region’s lush mangrove forests to discover the unique ecosystem in this part of Thailand, especially along the Sikao Canal.

For those who are seeking a little R&R after their long trip south, a mud spa at a nearby saltwater hot spring is the perfect remedy for tired feet and legs. During the latter part of the afternoon in Trang, you’ll travel to Boon Kong Bay, which is surrounded by dramatic limestone mountain ridges and cliffs. Next, you and your group can head out with a local guide into the open sea; your destination is Lor Lor Island where you can have fun on the pretty strip of sand, as well as swim in the lukewarm waters off the coast. After your fill of island fun, it’s back to Kep Tawan Beach to watch the sunset over the ocean.

By the time you have arrived back from your sea adventure, it’s time for dinner in the community, which includes freshly-cooked seafood plucked straight from those floating baskets (which you may have noticed near to your homestay). After dinner, take part in a knowledge exchange with the community and then enjoy some leisure time before bed.

Speaking of bed… you might want to set your alarm clocks early so that you can get up in time to see the sunrise above Sikao Bay – which is right in front of the accommodation. Afterward, an all-inclusive breakfast is served onsite.

During the rest of the morning, you’ll have time to learn more about the traditional way of life of the local community that surrounds you. For example, there is a chance to observe the community’s seafood processing facility at ‘Pla Kem Kang Moong Group’ and at ‘Teoi Panan Basketry Group’, you’ll learn how to make handmade baskets using extracted taken from the local Teoi Panun trees.

Around lunchtime, head back to the community to bid farewell to your local hosts and head home – marking the end of this “Extraordinary Experience” in Thailand’s southern Trang Province.

To learn more about “One Night Stay with Locals” in Thailand or to book a trip for up to 10 people at a special price, please visit www.1nightstaywithlocals.com or www.facebook.com/AorSorSocial/.

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Discover a quieter side of Trat with a one-night stay in the fisherman’s village of Baan Laem Klat

Sep 7, 2018

Trat province attracts a modest number of local and foreign tourists all year round thanks to its array of fishing villages, pretty beaches and excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities – particularly off the coast at nearby Koh Chang or the smaller Koh Kood. For this “Extraordinary Experience”, however, you’ll be staying on the mainland at a small fishermen’s community that is located upstream on the east side of Trat’s main river.

Known as Baan Laem Klat, life at this fishing village revolves around the water – and the locals rely heavily on what they can catch from it. This gives visitors coming for this “One Night Stay with Locals” a fantastic opportunity to learn about a range of fishing techniques, as well as try lots of delicious seafood. Some of Trat’s delicacies include blue crab, shrimp, mantis shrimp, and a variety of other shellfish. There is also the chance to see rare Irrawaddy dolphins as well as the region’s colorful jellyfish phenomenon, which occurs around November time.

During the morning of your first day, get an introduction to the Baan Laem Klat community before heading off with a local guide for a beach tour. Try to catch some white shell spotted babylon and razor clams along the way.

Fill up with a tasty lunch at the nearby Lan Sai beach. In the afternoon, you’ll be hitting the water again by joining local fishermen on their quest for shrimp, mantis shrimp, and crab. Another fun afternoon activity involves helping to preserve the area by planting mangroves and preparing the land for new plants to grow. This is essential for ensuring the region’s ecosystem thrives in the future.

After a day spent out and about on the water, it’s back to base for dinner. For those wanting to witness Trat’s firefly phenomenon, we recommended taking an evening boat trip out to see the flies illuminate the sky at Khlong Pratoon, which is the best place to see them.

Wake up after a comfortable stay in your waterside homestay then head for breakfast at Yamadaya Beach Resort. For the second day’s main morning activity, join in with more conservation work by helping the locals to spread artificial seagrass into a designated preservation area in the community. Again, this is another important technique that can protect the ecosystem.

Indulge in more seafood-oriented dishes as part of lunch before bidding farewell to your friendly Trat hosts.

To learn more about “One Night Stay with Locals” in Thailand or to book a trip for up to 10 people at a special price, please visit www.1nightstaywithlocals.com or www.facebook.com/AorSorSocial/.

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Experience Phang Nga from a new perspective at Baan Sam Chong Nuea community

Sep 7, 2018

For any native or foreign tourist familiar with Thailand, the southern province of Phang Nga conjures up images of dramatic limestone cliffs rising out of the turquoise waters (forming Phang Nga Bay), as well as the region’s stunning network of mangrove-covered canals and tropical jungles. Plus, let’s not forget those picture-perfect, white-sanded beaches either!

This popular destination, however, can get quite busy in certain places where tour agencies bring boat-loads of visitors each day, especially in high season. So, to get away from it all, we recommend a “One Night Stay with Locals” trip to Baan Sam Chong Nuea Community – thanks to its remote location that still makes for a perfect launch pad for many of the bay’s must-visit sights.

Perhaps the highlight of this specially-curated “Extraordinary Experience” is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the sunrise over Phang Nga Bay (at dawn on day-two), with your local guide taking you out on a boat to a secluded viewpoint overlooking the glowing sun which slowly rises above the horizon.

But this trip to Baan Sam Chong Nuea is not only about the sun, sea and sand. Many of the activities are located mostly inland. Starting from the later hours of the morning, learn about the history of this fascinating community at the village’s main center, and kayak through the mangrove forests and swamps while helping out with afforestation at the same time.

The afternoon of the first day provides an invaluable opportunity to learn more about the local villagers, farmers and fishermen’s way of life and how they earn income in this remote region. This involves checking out a shrimp paste-making demonstration, trying your hand at fabric tie-dyeing and observing traditional fishing techniques which use floating baskets, as well as visit a fresh oyster farm (with tasting, of course!)

Apart from the early morning sunrise trip (which is optional for the late-risers), even more adventure around the bay is booked for day-two. Hop into a long-tail boat – locally known as ‘hua tong’ – and observe the stunning beauty of Phang Nga Bay. Along the way, your expert local guide will take you to Petch Pakarang Cave, where you can walk up to discover the highest point for a bird’s-eye view. The scenery of Khao Phing Kan, Khao Tapu, Lod Cave, and Punyee Island is all incredible, making this long trip south (and back again) worth the extra effort.

After a short cruise back to your Baan Sam Chong Nuea homestay, it’s time to pack up your bags and bid farewell to your hosts – until next time!

To learn more about “One Night Stay with Locals” in Thailand or to book a trip for up to 10 people at a special price, please visit www.1nightstaywithlocals.com or www.facebook.com/AorSorSocial/.

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Adventure awaits at the lush hillside community of Baan Khiri Wong Kot, Udon Thani

Sep 7, 2018

This actioned packed “One Night Stay with Locals” promises adventure, fun activities and lots of deliciously spicy food (this is Isaan, after all!) The journey takes you up to the northeastern corner of Thailand to Udon Thani province, where you’ll carry on deep into the forest until you reach a mountainside community known as “Baan Kiri Won Kot”.

The friendly locals will be waiting to give you a warm welcome into their homes, as well as show you around the village and provide a ceremony to mark the beginning of your stay. Now, the adventure really starts with a tractor tour of the nearby rice paddies and jungle, before making your way to a nearby waterfall for lunch and perhaps a dip in the refreshing water.

The afternoon provides an opportunity to learn more about the Baan Kiri Won Kot community, and how the locals live and make money off the land and natural resource available to them. For instance, there’s time for a lively fruit picking session at a nearby orchid and you can stop by one of the many shops along the route back to pick up some local souvenirs to take back for your own friends and family.

Before bedding down for the night in your rustic but comfortable homestay accommodation, your hosts will treat you to another ceremony showcasing their unique northeastern Thai culture. You won’t go to bed with an empty stomach, either, as a traditional ‘Palang’-style dinner is served up, including many vibrant Isaan dishes you probably know and love – as well as some you may never have tried before! This style of eating involves sitting in a circle on mats on the floor, which is a great way for you to get to know more about the local villagers and exchange ideas as you tuck into dishes such as grilled chicken, somtam, sticky rice, grilled fish, and dill soup cooked inside bamboo.

After a good night’s rest, make sure you set your alarm clock early, as you don’t want to miss seeing the morning mist rise over the mountains. You’ll be heading up on the tractor to a viewpoint to catch the sunrise and the sea of clouds cover the jungle down below. It’s the perfect way to start the morning while sipping a cup of locally brewed coffee, rounding off this truly Extraordinary Experience in Udon Thani.

To learn more about “One Night Stay with Locals” in Thailand or to book a trip for up to 10 people at a special price, please visit www.1nightstaywithlocals.com or www.facebook.com/AorSorSocial/.

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Discover a different side of Thailand with a “One Night Stay with Locals”

Sep 6, 2018

From southern provinces that you may already be familiar with such as Phang Nga and Chumphon, to the more remote northern provinces of Lampang, Nan and many more, 13 destinations have been carefully chosen by Thailand travel experts as part of this newly-launched “One Night Stay with Locals” project. Not only are these villages very remote (meaning you will beat the crowds even in high season), there is also a huge variety of community-focused activities available, such as getting your hands dirty picking fruit in orchids with the locals, taking tractor rides through the jungle to waterfalls or heading out on fishermen’s boats to find the catch of the day!

Spanning across four provinces (Lampang, Chiang Rai and Nan) there are four different communities to visit in the north of Thailand as part of this One Night Stay with Locals program – each one as fascinating as the next. Tucked away in the mountains of Lampang, there is the chance to go miang leaf picking with the locals at Baan Pa Miang, as well as learn how to make (and eat) the popular dish using this produce. Neighboring Chiang Rai province has two destinations to choose from: the laidback Pangha Homestay near the border with Myanmar where you can learn all about the Tai Lue people and the old-age craftsmanship, or Baan Tha Khan Tong, a thriving community next to the Mae Kong River that combines elements of Isaan and Lanna culture. To truly get away from it all, Nan province’s Sila Petch village feels like it is in the middle of nowhere, yet there are still plenty of friendly locals to show you around the area and guide you through the forests to a waterfall.

In addition, Baan Khiri Wong Kot in the northeast of the country (Udon Thani) lets you experience a true taste of Isaan – especially the deliciously spicy food, rural countryside and famously friendly Isaan hospitality from the locals.

Tourists also flock to Thailand’s southern provinces for the beaches, boat rides and adventure activities. At our handpicked southern communities, you can still experience all of this and more – just with none of the crowds. For example, at Phang Nga’s hidden Baan Sam Chong Nuea community there’s a chance to explore swamps and mangrove forests with a local fisherman while helping to afforest the area. At Pa Tew (Bang Son) in Chumphon, most of your time will also be spent on the water while eating as much seafood as you can, rafting and spotting fireflies in the evening.

Other local communities waiting to be discovered are located in the less-frequently visited provinces of Phatthalung and Yala. These include the stunning Tamod Community where you can join in with a range of sufficiency economy educational activities, as well as kayaking and taking in the sunset over the reservoir, while Yala’s Chulaporn Pattana 9 Tourism Community boasts a gorgeous combination of forests, mountains and rivers.

Other choices of local communities that you can visit includes Bo Hin Farm Stay in Trang, Phrom Lok in Nakorn Si Thammarat, Laem Pak Bia in Petchaburi and Laem Klat in Trat.

To learn more about “One Night Stay with Locals” in Thailand or to book a trip for up to 10 people at a special price, please visit www.1nightstaywithlocals.com or www.facebook.com/AorSorSocial/.

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Experience canal-side living at Chumphon’s Bang Son community

Sep 5, 2018

Easily accessible from Bangkok with its own airport, Chumphon is a popular seaside province overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. It gets its fair share of visitors each year who come to enjoy the beaches and slower pace of life – although most use it as a gateway to travel on further by boat to the nearby islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

However, this “One Night Stay with Locals” trip lets you get a taste of true Chumphon while avoiding the crowds that flock to the islands. Your homestay for the night is just a short drive to the south from the airport, located in the province’s Bang Son community. In fact, you’ll be staying next to the community’s namesake ‘khlong’, in Thai meaning ‘canal’, which forms a pretty stretch of water covered by greenery on each side and plenty of hidden ‘beaches’ to be discovered along its banks. As the khlong links to the nearby sea, the waters are full of fresh seafood – which you can enjoy trying to catch and eat as much of it as you like!

Upon arrival, your first adventures are on land – rather than on the water – as you travel up Dinso Mountain to spot the migrating falcons. At a nearby temple, there’s the chance to pay respect to the local monks. At the ‘crab pawn shop’ you can give a helping in hand to some of the crabs trying return to their home, too.

Back to base, and it’s time to hit the water for one of this trip’s “Extraordinary Experiences”. The evening activity involves being towed on a raft behind a fisherman’s boat along Khlong Bang Son. Think of it as a dinner cruise ‘canal-style’ as you tuck into an impressive seafood buffet with fresh crab, squid, shrimps, shrimp paste and other Bang Son delicacies. The two-hour trip takes you to the mouth of the bay and back again, with fireflies able to be seen on the way back as dusk falls.

If dinner cruises aren’t your thing, this visit to Bang Son also has other options in terms of trip itineraries. You can also opt to choose Program 2, which focuses more on community activities, such as learning about local cooking methods and seeing the nature of the mangrove forest. Another option is Program 3, which starts much earlier in the day giving you time to do more. Activities include touring the community, learning how to make local snacks, experiencing the only sand dunes in Thailand (the highlight) and visiting a beach near the mountain at Tung Sang Bay.

Depending on which program you choose, on the morning of day-two you’ll either head out at dawn to see the sunrise at Wat Khao Chedi (which has a stunning 360-degree view of the region), or take an early morning boat ride out for some snorkeling fun at a nearby island off the coast of Chumphon.

To learn more about “One Night Stay with Locals” in Thailand or to book a trip for up to 10 people at a special price, please visit www.1nightstaywithlocals.com or www.facebook.com/AorSorSocial/.

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