Valentine's Day at Baan Famui near Chiang Mai: Romance in the Mountains
I like my eggs with sunshine, mountains and romance please!
It’s breakfast time. In the morning sunshine, haystacks piled in the impossibly green fields cast long shadows over farmers, who use old fashioned tools to spill water from irrigation ditches onto their crops. The dark mountains behind the fields are burnt with the orange leaves of autumn and shrouded in the blue haze of distance.
That’s the scene that Andy and I looked out over as we ate toast and eggs on Valentine’s morning. Baan Famui is a delightful little guesthouse run by a genuinely super-friendly French guy called Damien and his wife Mui. Four large bungalows sit behind a real Thai village on a steep slope, which means it’s in the most fantastic position for taking in the awesome beauty of Chiang Dao’s mountains.
Even if you’re not an early riser (hello me!), making the effort to watch the sunrise over the mountains and see the light burst over the rice fields from the comfort of your balcony is amazingly beautiful and something that you won't forget.
Baan Famui is one of the most comfortable guesthouses we’ve been lucky enough to stay in.
|photo by agoda.com|
Baan Famui is 100km North of Chiang Mai city, between Chiang Dao and Doi Ang Khang in a tiny little place called Nawai. It's been open for about three years, so everything is still shiny and new. Having happy, smiley guests is clearly a priority for Damien and Mui – everything is great quality, right down to the towels in the bathroom, the rain-shower-head, the comfy garden sofa on the balcony and the best king-sized mattress we've slept on in about two years. Everything is very clean, everything works perfectly, everything is very, very comfortable.
Oh my gosh I WISH we had that bed at home. We were almost tempted to just stay in bed all day watching movies huddled up in the squishy fluffiness, but then we’d have missed out on waterfalls and road tripping so I’m glad we hauled our lazy selves up.
So, what’s a Baan and what’s a Famui?
Baan means ‘home’ in Thai. A famui is a kind of orchid, and Mui is the cute nickname that Damien gave his wife when he met her ten years ago, so the guesthouse name works on so many levels. For guests, the name really reflects the level of hospitality you can expect – it’s like you’re being welcomed into the family home. They are truly lovely lovely people! We invited Damien to drink coffee with us in the morning. He seemed genuinely interested in talking with us about ... well... anything and everything! We chatted for ages. He was very knowledgeable about what we could do in the area and helped us to plan our day.
Not only are the people awesome, but there’s a menagerie of animals to make friends with too. There currently are three dogs, three cats and three tortoises. One of the dogs is super sweet – a fat black Labrador girl who plods around the tropical gardens and flops down in the sunshine or shade as the fancy takes her. One of the cats was poisoned as a baby kitten (!!), and lost her balance, which means that now she’s a bit off balance and the cutest, silliest cat you’re likely to meet. The three tortoises were rescued from the forest, where they were liable to end up in the cooking pot of a local villager.
Fat tropical flowers drip from stems and branches in Baan Famui’s gardens.
I’m not very green fingered. I bought a packet of coriander seeds about eight months ago and planted them eagerly, ready to grow my own organic coriander and put it on all my food. My plant is pathetic. It has a few straggly bits of grassy stuff that doesn’t even look like coriander. I’m always very jealous when people can grow amazing gardens. Baan Famui’s gardens are spectacular and bursting with colour.
Super romantic glowing red pool
I really love flowers, but I think I probably loved Baan Famui’s little pool more because IT GLOWED RED AT NIGHT. It was amazing! How perfect is that for Valentine’s Day? I don’t think you can get much more romantic than a glowing red pool under a million bright stars with a glass of wine and a cheeky kiss from your favourite man-or-lady-friend on February the 14th!
At dinnertime, the little glowy pool kept a group of kids entertained for ages, it was very cute.
It’s a little chilly for swimming in February, but Damien promised me that he’s installing a solar heater very soon, which means that next year we’ll be in the pool for hours and become very prune-like.
At night, Damien lights a camp fire while his wife and the staff serve dinner to hungry guests. Because there are only four bungalows, I doubt it ever gets too busy.
Book a stay at Baan Famui
A big bungalow in the tropical gardens at Baan Famui costs 1,500 baht per night for two people, and you get breakfast too.
Road trippin’ from Baan Famui
There's a lot to see around Baan Famui, but I'd recommend having your own transport, hiring a driver or joining one of Baan Famui's tours or activities. Bamboo rafting is a lot of fun, by the way ;)
Almost next door to Baan Famui is Srisungwan Waterfall - definitely worth a trip to cool off in! When you buy your ticket to the waterfall, you get entry to the nearby hot springs included too. Arunothai is a very Chinese little village. There's not an awful lot at the village, but the ride over is stunning. Muang Na cave is supposed to be very amazing, but we didn't have time or enough petrol to see it, argh! Does anybody know if it's worth a visit? There are hill tribe villages dotted all around the area, too. And of course, the hugely popular Chiang Dao area is just south of Baan Famui.
We love exploring the countryside on our motorbike..
...so that's exactly what we did the next day after breakfast. We drove to Muang Na village, ran out of petrol, got some more, drove to the Chinese village, went to the waterfall and then to Chiang Dao! The mostly clear roads were so much fun to drive. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes other-wordly, sometimes like we'd gone time travelling.