Jedsadapong Wongkiew / Kanchanit Manukkong
The Galyani Vadhana District, named after H.M. King Bhumibol’s
Adulyadej’s late sister, H.R.H. Princess Galyani Vadhana, has become not
only Chiang Mai Province’s newest district but also the latest tourist
attraction to offer visitors and residents the sights and sounds of nature.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) invited members of the press on a
2-day trip to Galyani Vadhana district starting December 26.
local hill tribesman performs on the Tae Na, a traditional Pa Ka Yo hill
tribe musical instrument.
Chalermsak Suranan, Director of TAT Chiang Mai Office, said that the trip
was to promote Galyani Vadhana district as a new travel destination, with
nice weather, interesting geography, abundant undiscovered nature and, being
only 85 km from Pai, it is a good destination for those visiting Pai as
We traveled 92 km from Samoeng district to Galyani Vadhana district on
muddy, steep and narrow roads dotted with forests and rice fields. This
route is perfect for the adventurous; 4 wheel drive vehicles are
The first stop was the Doi Kaew Farm, a chemical-free strawberry field
approved by Royal Foundation Project, located in Bo Kaew sub-district, 35 km
from Samoeng district. This strawberry field, owned and operated by Wittaya
Narata, the president of Bo Kaew Agriculturists’ Association, with the
support from Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, is set in
2,500 rai of land, and is one of the country’s largest strawberry producers.
Visitors can take a tour around the field and eat freshly picked
member of the Pa Kao Yo hill tribe performs the traditional sword dance at
Musikee Eco Lodge.
The Suan Doi Kaew Farm is being developed as an agriculture tourism
destination. Resort houses are being built and campsites are currently
available, welcoming Thais and foreigners who’d like to spend their days
amidst cool weather and a beautiful clean environment.
The next stop was the Galyani Vadhana district where we were taken to the
Royal Project Foundation’s Wat Chan Development Center in Ban Chan
sub-district. Pornchai Pianpla, social development officer of the Center,
explained that the Center helps locals increase their agricultural knowledge
and other occupational skills. The center was initiated by King Bhumibhol
Adulyadej to help improve the living conditions of hill tribe people in Wat
Chan and nearby villages.
Chan in Galayani Vadhana district.
The center contains fruit and vegetable farms, an animal farm, an exhibition
of hill tribe culture, souvenirs for sale, a cafeteria, and rooms and tents
for visitors to spend the night out in the forest.
Other attractions and activities to do in the district include pine forests
with wild orchids; bird watching; cool weather fog watching at the border
between Chiang Mai Province and Mae Hong Son, the Huai Hom waterfall, where
the Chaem River and Pai River flow from; Huai Reservoir, and Wat Chan, which
date back to the Lawa era, one of Chiang Mai valley’s earliest periods.
We spent the night in the cool weather at the peaceful Musikee Eco Lodge,
set in the middle of a forested area and offers food from its own farms for
visitors. We were warmly welcomed by the staff, members of the Pa Ka Yo hill
tribe, a hilltribe group native to this district. Musikee is the name of the
Mae Chaem River in the Pa Ka Yo language, it also reflects the way of life
of this hill tribe group. Hiking to the junction of the Chaem Noi and Chaem
Luang rivers is one of the popular activities for visitors to the Musikee
Eco-Lodge. The nearby forest offers a large variety of plant life and the
local hill tribe villages offer a glimpse into their native culture and
arts. Often you can hear locals playing the Tae Na, a Pa Ka Yo made
instrument similar to harp, or singing traditional songs. There is often a
show with the traditional welcoming dance, a sword dance.
of the pine forests from Musikee Eco Lodge in Chiang Mai’s Galyani Vadhana
The last stop on our trip was the Ban Wat Chan Royal Foundation Project of
the Forest Industry Organization of Thailand, in charge of preserving and
restoring the forests in the area and promoting vegetable farming among the
locals. It’s set in the country’s largest pine and dry dipterocarp forest,
960 meters above sea level, and is now being developed as an eco-tourism
destination to attract people who love adventure and cool weather. Camping,
viewing morning fog, visiting hill tribe people, hiking and riding bicycles
are among the many activities on offer at this eco tourism destination which
can accommodate up to 500 people.
The mountainous Galyani Vadhana district, containing the Ban Chan, Mae Dad
and Chaem Luang sub-districts, is the 25th district to be established in
Chiang Mai Province. Formerly part of the Mae Chan district, it was created
in honor of H.R.H Princess Galyani Vadhana and granted the name by H.M. King
Bhumibhol Adulyadej earlier this year. A new district office is being built
to replace the temporary office, and the completion of a new road leading
the district – which will make traveling here more convenient – is expected
in two years. Galyani Vadhana district is 157 km from Chiang Mai’s Muang
district through Mae Hong Son’s Pai district and 146 km through Samoeng
district. Both routes take about 4 hours.
Members of the Pa Ka Yo hill tribe perform a
welcoming dance for the visiting officials and journalists to Musikee Eco
Some of the bungalows at Musikee Eco Lodge..
The gardens at Ban Wat Chan Royal Foundation
Huai Hom waterfall provides a cool and scenic
spot in the new district.
Fog over the forests of Galayani Vadhana
District in Chiang Mai.