Doi Ang Khang is an almost 2,000 metre high mountain peak nestled amid the verdant valleys and forests of Fang Province. Although a little off the beaten track, Doi Ang Khang District attracts tourists with its unspoilt vistas, easy access to hilltribe villages and a varied range of things to do. Sightseeing excursions, trekking, mule rides and bird-watching are the most popular activities. An added bonus is guesthouses and resorts which offer the perfect setting to chill and forget life’s ups and downs for a few days.
The district has been likened to a mini-Switzerland because its temperature is so much cooler. Some accommodation establishments offer fireplaces and electric blankets. The climate and the chance of seeing ground frost is a major draw card in winter. For many visitors, the chance of sampling non-native Thai fruits such as kiwis, peaches and apples grown at the Royal Agricultural Station Ang Khang’s gardens is a further attraction.
Last Updated: November 2018
WHAT TO DO
A short trek is the best way of seeing Doi Ang Khang in all its glory. Trekking trails pass through shaded forests where red rhododendrons bloom in the wild. They lead to waterfalls, mountain viewpoints and hilltribe villages. Trekkers need to ensure they have enough drinking water for their excursions. There are trekking guides available for those who wish to gain better insights into the locality.
Mountain biking provides an alternative to trekking and allows riders to travel farther afield. There are short rides to the likes of Pa-Daeng in addition to the longer Mae Ngon trip. Roads in the area are a mix of surfaced and mud. The mud ones are hard-packed and only difficult to navigate during the annual rainy season. Ang Khang Nature Resort and other resorts have bikes for rent. Some Chiang Mai mountain biking tour operators include Doi Ang Khang on their itineraries.
Residents of Baan Khum Village offer mule rides which generally follow a set route. The 90-minute ride goes from the settlement to a vantage point with views across the border into Myanmar and back again via the Royal Agricultural Station Ang Khang. The mules are still used as beasts of burden by farmers and it pays to book this activity in advance to avoid disappointment.
The variety of birds in the hills and valleys of Doi Ang Khang is a delight and will satisfy even those without a serious interest in birdwatching. There are an estimated 1,000 species to be found here and in the adjoining Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park. Highlights include brown-breasted bulbuls, rusty-naped pittas and Hume’s pheasants. Although the peaceful Mae Phur Valley Trail comes highly recommended, local guides have the most up-to-date information about where birdwatchers should head for.
Sightseeing tours to a trio of unique Doi Ang Khang attractions are a popular activity. The tours typically take the high, twisty routes north of Ang Khang to a tea plantation, a strawberry farm and the Ban Nor Lae Myanmar border checkpoint. Both the plantation and farm are spread over steep hillsides and the views from the tops are simply amazing. Ban Nor Lae overlooks Myanmar. Barbed wire and army pillboxes on each side of the border are ample evidence this is not open for tourists.
In the town there are a number of shops selling colourful hilltribe clothing, and coats and hats for cold weather. There is a market opposite the Royal Agricultural Station at which vendors sell local produce. Stalls here are laden with items including strawberries, dried fruits, walnuts, macadamias, bags of Oolong tealeaves and freshly picked vegetables. In the evenings a walking street market opens up with vendors offering additional souvenirs, various barbecued delicacies and drinks.
WHAT TO SEE
When it comes to choosing what to see, Doi Ang Khang is not lacking in unusual attractions. The Royal Agricultural Station Ang Khang is the flagship. The station was founded by the Thai royal family to provide an alternative to growing opium for the region’s hilltribe villagers. The station is packed with gardens featuring cold climate fruits, colourful flowers, tea fields, vegetable zones, lines of sakura cherry blossom trees and even Japanese-style bonsai trees. Restaurants and shops at the station enable visitors to sample the produce.
The Royal Agricultural Station Ang Khang: #1, Moo 5, T. Maengon, A. Fang, Chiang Mai 50320 | Open: 08:00-18:00 (Daily) | Entrance Fee: 50 B/Person | Tel: +66 53 969 489, +66 53 969 492 | Website | Facebook | E-mail
Doi Ang Khang is hilltribe country and there are a number of different ethnic groups living in the locality. The Lisu, or Musur as they are sometimes called, Thai Yai, Palong and the Jin Hor are the four main ones. Jin Hor are the descendants of Kuomintang fighters who fled China in 1949. All the groups have distinct styles of houses and clothing as well as their own languages. Some of the villagers sell clothing, souvenirs and local produce from stalls at their houses.
WHERE TO STAY
Angkhang Nature Resort
The Angkhang Nature Resort is the top choice here and features a collection of nicely appointed rooms, the Maple Restaurant, mountain bike hire and easy access to the Royal Agricultural Station. The resort is spread over a tree-shaded slope where the only sound is usually birds tweeting. Rooms come with bonuses such as private balconies, satellite TVs, tea and coffee makers, and electric blankets. The restaurant serves up a good selection of Thai and international dishes created from Royal Project produce…more info & booking
Also close to the front gate of the Agricultural Station, the Laoting features a collection of cheaper rooms and elegant hillside bungalows equipped with TVs, hot showers and WiFi. The resort’s own restaurant is close to the front desk and serves up a mix of Thai and Yunnan dishes.
Laoting Resort: #3, Ban Khum, Moo 5, T. Mae Ngon, A. Fang, Chiang Mai 50320 | Tel: +66 53 450 005 | Fax: +66 53 450 075 | Website | Facebook |
Ang Khang Villa is centrally located too and comes with a collection of well-appointed rooms with bonuses including en suite bathrooms with hot showers, TVs and WiFi. There is no restaurant onsite but the proximity of the town centre means guests staying here will not go hungry.
Ang Khang Villa: #16, Moo 5, A. Fang, Chiang Mai 50320 | Tel: +66 53 450 010
Other accommodation options for Doi Ang Khang
During the peak high season months between December and February, hotel and guesthouse rooms are hard to come by and advance bookings are recommended. Accommodation at Doi Ang Khang is a little more expensive than Chiang Mai, but there are some lower priced guesthouses for those on a budget. The facilities and amenities vary at these. A few in the locality and also nearby Fang which constantly garner good guest reviews are the Phumanee Lahu Home Hotel, Viengkaew Resort and the Khunyuw Hotel. There is a campsite a few kilometres before the town which offers tents and sleeping bags for hire.
HOW TO GET TO DOI ANG KHANG
There are two routes to Doi Ang Khang. The length of each is around 140kms and driving time is about three hours all in. Both begin by taking Highway 107 north out of Chiang Mai. The first option is take the 107 for 130kms to Hat Samran Temple. From here it is another 25kms on the twisty and steep Highway 1249 to Doi Ang Khang. The 1249 is not suited to inexperienced drivers or even small-engined cars. The alternate route which is less steep, but very narrow in places, is to take the turning for Highway 1178 on the north side of Chiang Dao. After 40kms, there is a turnoff for Highway 1340. This joins Highway 1249 a few kilometres short of Doi Ang Khang.
Buses and vans for Fang depart from Chang Puak Bus Station in Chiang Mai at regular intervals during the day. Shared songthaew taxis are usually waiting at the 107-1249 junction at Hat Samran Temple. People wishing to reach Doi Ang Khang in one day should take morning buses. It is also possible to rent a car or motorcycle for the trip or joining tours offered by specialist travel agencies. Rentalcars.com is a preferred partner for What’s Up and is a global car hire provider offering competitive daily rental rates in Chiang Mai.
Chang Phuak Bus Station (Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 1): #108/27, Chang Phuak Rd., T. Sri Phum, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50200 | Open: 04:00-21:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 53 211 586, +66 53 223 900 |