Forty-three kilometres from Mae Hong Son town, you will find Ban Rak Thai (also known as Mae Aw). This charming Chinese tea village is nestled within the pine forests of Doi Pan and just a stone’s throw away from the Burmese border. Settled by former Kuomintang fighters from Yunnan province in China, the small population is almost all Chinese or Thai-born Chinese so you will see signs in Chinese characters and hear locals speaking a dialect. Once dominated by the opium drug trade, a royal project was launched to encourage locals to cultivate tea in the surrounding area.
These days, Ban Rak Thai offers a wide variety of teas which you can taste at one of the many tea houses; visit in Febrary and you can enjoy the annual Tea Tasting Festival. Centred around a reservoir lined with mud huts and traditional tea houses, Ban Rak Thai offers a picturesque slice of old-school China.