Location: Chiang Mai | Rating: 3 star | Rooms: 20 | Pool: no
An hour north of Chiang Mai, Lisu Lodge is an award-winning ecolodge that lies in a lush green valley, surrounded by rice fields. Its guest rooms overlook this classically northern Thai scenery and are built in simple traditional Lisu style, with an eye to hotel-level service and modern amenities including ensuite bathrooms and wi-fi. A stay at the lodge is your chance to immerse yourself in the tranquil and soothing atmosphere, recharging your mind and body as you explore the local countryside and learn about hilltribe culture.
The lodge is run and staffed by Lisu villagers and you can enjoy a guided tour of their village with the chance to chat with the shaman, as well as visiting the community garden where food for the lodge is grown. If you’re looking for outdoor adventure, hiking, white water rafting and cycling tours can be arranged, including visiting a nearby tea plantation where you can pick your own leaves and brew a cuppa that’s quite different from using a teabag!
Hill tribe people in Thailand have long been looked down upon as backward and primitive and their traditional cultures are under continual pressure, especially as younger generations grow up with the trappings of modern life, western clothes and mobile phones. Lisu Lodge offers a way to preserve and renew this heritage, through the onsite museum and nightly dances, while also supporting economic development in this fairly remote and poor area. As well as buying from local businesses, the income from the lodge has created a dozen jobs with decent conditions and pay for local Lisu villagers, while every visitor night generates a contribution to the community development fund.
The lodge has minimised its environmental impact by using typical Lisu architectural styles and natural building materials, so there is no need for air conditioning and they have solar cells that meet a portion of their electricity needs. It has an extensive organic garden and even its own rice fields, which grow much of the food for guests. However they are most proud of their Himmaparn foundation, which actively reforests the area with native tree species – you can even plant your own seedling.