Lanjia Lodge

Near Chiang Khong, Chiang Mai & North, Thailand Book from THB3,800

Experience sustainable tourism at its best at this admirable community-driven hillside hideaway
Asian Oasis's latest venture may be its most successful yet. Lanjia Lodge takes all the essential elements of ecotourism and applies them faultlessly to this anthropological encounter high above the Mekong river on the Thai border with Laos. The aim: to harness the positive potential of low-impact, high-end tourism. Hmong and Lahu villagers have fully participated in the lodge’s development, from construction to the production of handcrafted fabrics used in the bedrooms and living areas. They also provide all the services, from laundry and cooking, to guiding. All-natural materials are used throughout, and bamboo is ubiquitous.

Inside, there is a wealth of texture and colour - bright tribal costumes framed in the hallway, batik and cross-stitched throw cushions on the sofas, and the traditional design of staff uniforms. Sip a cool ginger infusion on arrival and take in the view for an appreciation of the understated beauty of the landscape. Climb up the vertiginous hill to get an insight into the customs and cultures of the Lahu tribe; head downhill to see how the Hmong do things differently. And get out and explore, well off the beaten path, on strenuous treks.

Highs

  • Asian Oasis is a prestigious inbound tour operator, who we've worked with for years. Lanjia is co-run by PDA, a local NGO seeking to promote local sustainable development
  • Asian Oasis's sister lodges, Lisu Lodge and Khum Lanna have proved very popular with i-escapees; feedback is excellent
  • We loved our visit and found Lanjia a compelling combination: an exciting holiday experience and knowing that your visit contributes to an admirable community project
  • The company has excellent social and environmental values

Best time to go

The hotel is open year-round, but the best time to come is between November and May. During January and February temperatures can drop as low as 8 in the evenings. The rainy season is June to September, and you might want to avoid the crop-burning season in March when smoke smogs up the sky and obscures the otherwise spectacular views. In the hot season, March to May, temperatures can reach 35ºC so be prepared.

Our top tips

Take walking boots; long-sleeved tops and trousers to keep the insects at bay on the treks - and insect repellent; a book or pack of cards for the evenings; a small offering for the communities you visit, such as pens/balloons/a ball. Keen birdwatchers should bring powerful binoculars, or even a telescope, as Chiang Saen Lake is large and waterfowl may be distant.

Great for...

Eco
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Eco lodge: 16 rooms
  • 16
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Lanjia Lodge is made up of 4 identical lodges. Each houses 4 double rooms, and all are the same standard. Don’t expect sheer luxury: while very comfortable, there are few frills. But we found that to be perfectly in tune with the untouched rural setting, and the rooms are stylish in their simplicity.

The walls, floor, ceiling and doors are all made from reed and bamboo matting. A firm kingsize bed stands in the centre on a raised platform, and either side, wicker lanterns cast a muted light with energy-efficient bulbs (ask in advance if you'd prefer a twin room). In daytime, the bed is covered with a bright woven and batik throw, which is removed by the turndown service at night to reveal crisp clean white cotton. A mosquito net is hooked up then too, forming a safe haven from bugs. A bamboo table at the end of the bed provides a place for belongings, and there's a large wicker basket containing white towels, a torch (for the occasional blackouts), and a tissue-box holder. To the side of the room, large windows reveal a wonderful view over the surrounding countryside.

The little ensuite bathroom is tiled with terracotta. The shower - which is surprisingly strong, hot and reliable given this remote location - is separated from the toilet and sink by a tiled partition. There's a selection of fragrant shampoo, conditioner, body and hand washes in large ceramic bottles, and a wooden shelf by the sink holds a modest vanity set. A couple of wooden coat-hangers and a wood-framed mirror are useful too.

Features include:

  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Mosquito net
  • Toiletries

Eating

All meals are included and prepared by Hmong and Lahu villagers then served in the open-walled lounge area overlooking the countryside, seated on floor cushions. For breakfast, choose from scrambled eggs, bacon, omelettes, banana muffins, rice soup with chicken and mushroom - a local favourite - cereals, fresh fruit, toast with butter and jam, pancakes, coffee and tea. The tea and jam are produced as part of the national ‘Royal Project’, which aims to increase organic agricultural production; it is possible to visit these tea plantations nearby.

If you are out trekking during lunch, your guide will produce a welcome picnic. We had tasty tuna sandwiches wrapped in banana leaves, followed by banana muffins.

Back at the lodge, lunch and dinners are a 3-course set-up (if you have any dietary requirements, let them know in advance). Meals start with a clear glass-noodle soup with pork or chicken, and this is followed by a choice of 3 mains. Staff kneel to serve the fresh, colourful dishes: expect flash-fried vegetables, lightly spiced curries and sauces, ginger roast chicken, pork burgers with spring onions, fried noodles with chicken or beef, delicious barbecued fish and lots of rice. Dessert is cut fruit - pineapples, bananas, papayas, watermelon and dragon fruit.

Drinkswise, water is served with all meals; beer and a limited selection of wines are available on request. Throughout your stay, staff will offer refreshing icy ginger drinks after your excursions.

Features include:

  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity: Black Throated Sunbird (c. J.J. Harrison)

Activities

A range of packages is available, combining hiking, cycling and bird-watching with a large dose of local culture and insight - including Hmong dance, market visits and trips into the Golden Triangle if you want.

  • We went on the 3-day, 2-night adventure, which included an energetic uphill climb to the waterfall, source of the village’s water, and a trek through the local fields. As you walk you'll see corn, tapioca, rice, beans and a wide variety of other crops under cultivation, and taste the local tamarind
  • All packages include a visit to the local Lahu and Hmong villages. A class in batik-making is not to be missed, while a visit to the village shaman for some spiritual healing is an enlightening experience
  • The area is one of the best in Thailand for bird watching, so even if you don't book a specific bird-watching itinerary, be sure to pack your binoculars. Grasslands may reveal bushchats and stonechats, and between November and January the Mekong is used as a flyway by bar-headed geese, ruddy shelduck, greylag geese and mandarin ducks, terns and migratory waders including swan geese and baikal teal
  • This is an early to bed, early to rise place, and not a lot happens after nightfall. Take the opportunity to listen to the sounds of the countryside - animals, insects, village life - and revel in the total darkness of the hills around you. A telescope is provided for stargazing

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hmong dance
  • Mountain biking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Trekking

Kids

Children are welcome, and the treks and village visits would be fascinating for kids. It's best suited to kids aged 5 and above. Babies aged 0-2 stay for free. Children aged 2-12 are charged at 50% of the adult rate, when sharing parents' room

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

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