Mae Salong: A Guide to Thailand’s Tea Capital

Mae Salong is a beautiful village located in the northwestern region of Chiang Rai Province, Northern Thailand. It is a unique destination that offers a blend of Thai and Chinese cultures, making it an ideal place for travelers looking to explore something different. The village is situated near the border of Myanmar and was originally settled by ex-Chinese Nationalist Army fugitives who fled from Burma after the Communist party gained control of China.

Mae Salong is a popular destination for tourists who want to explore the natural beauty of Northern Thailand. The village is surrounded by lush green hills, tea plantations, and beautiful waterfalls. Travelers can also hike to the top of the nearby mountain to enjoy stunning views of the surrounding countryside. One of the main attractions of Mae Salong is the tea culture, and visitors can enjoy a cup of locally produced tea while taking in the scenic views.

The village is also a great place to learn about the history of the region. Mae Salong’s early history was centered on the opium trade of the Golden Triangle, and visitors can learn about the region’s past at the local museum. Overall, Mae Salong is a must-visit destination for travelers looking to explore the natural beauty and unique culture of Northern Thailand.

History and Culture

Doi Mae Salong is a small village located in the Chiang Rai province of Thailand. The village has a rich history and culture that is worth exploring. In this section, we will explore the different aspects of Mae Salong’s history and culture.

The Kuomintang and the Opium Trade

Mae Salong’s early history was centered on the opium trade of the Golden Triangle. The Kuomintang, the Chinese Nationalist Army, settled in Mae Salong after they fled from China and Myanmar. They continued to cultivate opium as a source of income. The hill tribe people in the area also participated in opium production.

The CIA and the Opium Trade

During the Cold War, the CIA supported the Kuomintang in their fight against the communist insurgents. The CIA also provided funding for the opium trade, which was used to finance the anti-communist efforts. As a result, the opium trade flourished in the Golden Triangle.

The Thai Government and Mae Salong

In the 1980s, the Thai government launched a campaign to eradicate opium production in the Golden Triangle. The government offered the Kuomintang soldiers, who had become known as the Santikhiri, citizenship and land in exchange for their cooperation. The Santikhiri agreed to stop cultivating opium and instead focused on tea production. Today, Mae Salong is known for its picturesque tea plantations, Chinese-style architecture, and vibrant local culture.

Mae Salong has a unique culture that is a blend of Chinese and Thai influences. The village is home to many Chinese immigrants who have preserved their culture and traditions. Visitors can explore the local markets, which sell a variety of goods, including tea, coffee, and fruit. The village also hosts a Chinese New Year festival, which is a colorful and lively event.

In recent years, Mae Salong has become a popular destination for tourists who are interested in exploring the village’s history and culture. Visitors can take a guided tour of the tea plantations, visit the local temples, and learn about the village’s fascinating past.

Overall, Mae Salong is a fascinating destination that offers a unique insight into the history and culture of the Golden Triangle. Whether you are interested in exploring the village’s opium trade past or learning about its Chinese and Thai influences, Mae Salong is a must-visit destination for any traveler to Northern Thailand.

Tea Plantations and Oolong Tea

Mae Salong is a tea lover’s paradise, with its rolling hills and lush green tea fields. The tea plantations in Doi Mae Salong are known for producing high-quality Oolong tea, with gardens typically situated at elevations above 1,000 meters on slopes of less than 45 degrees. The area’s unique climate, fertile soil, and abundant rainfall create the perfect conditions for growing tea bushes.

The Journey to Mae Salong

The journey to Mae Salong is an adventure in itself. The Mae Salong Loop is a scenic drive that takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Southeast Asia. The road winds its way through mountains, valleys, and tea plantations, offering breathtaking views at every turn. The journey takes about three hours from Chiang Rai, but it’s well worth it for the stunning scenery and the chance to experience the unique culture of the region.

Tea Fields and Plantations

The tea fields and plantations in Mae Salong are a sight to behold. Rows upon rows of tea bushes stretch out as far as the eye can see, with workers tending to the plants and harvesting the leaves. Tea Plantations (Mae Salong) is a popular tourist attraction, where visitors can learn about the tea-making process and sample some of the area’s delicious teas. 101 Tea Plantation is another popular spot, known for its award-winning Oolong tea and stunning views of the surrounding hills.

Oolong Tea and Yunnanese Food

Oolong tea is the star of the show in Mae Salong, with its rich, complex flavors and aromas. The tea is made by partially fermenting the leaves, which gives it a unique taste and aroma. Visitors can sample the tea at the many tea shops and cafes in the area, or take a guided tour of a tea plantation to learn more about the production process.

Yunnanese food is also a highlight of the Mae Salong experience. The region’s cuisine is heavily influenced by its proximity to Yunnan province in China, with dishes like stir-fried mushrooms and pork belly, and spicy hot pot. Visitors can sample the local cuisine at restaurants and food stalls throughout the region.

In conclusion, Mae Salong is a must-visit destination for tea lovers and foodies alike. The journey to the region is an adventure in itself, with breathtaking scenery and a unique culture to explore. The tea fields and plantations are a sight to behold, and the Oolong tea and Yunnanese food are not to be missed.

Exploring Mae Salong

Mae Salong is a picturesque mountain village located in Northern Thailand, known for its stunning views, tea plantations, and hill tribe communities. Here is a guide on where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when exploring Mae Salong.

Where to Stay

Mae Salong offers a variety of accommodation options for visitors, ranging from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxurious resorts. One of the most popular places to stay is Mae Salong Mountain Home, which offers cozy rooms with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

What to Do

There are plenty of activities to keep you busy while exploring Mae Salong. Renting a motorbike or car is a great way to explore the surrounding area at your own pace. One popular destination is Wang Put Tan, a scenic spot with a beautiful waterfall and hiking trails.

If you’re looking for relaxation, there are several spas and hot springs in the area. The Santikhiri Hot Springs is a popular choice, offering a variety of hot pools and spa treatments.

For those interested in hill tribe culture, there are several villages located in the surrounding hills. Many of these villages can be reached by hiring a songthaew, a type of shared taxi commonly used in Northern Thailand.

Where to Eat

Mae Salong is known for its tea plantations and coffee shops, making it a great destination for foodies. One popular spot is the Choui Fong Tea Plantation, which offers a variety of teas and a cafe with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

For a quick bite, there are several street food vendors located throughout the village. One popular option is the Mae Salong Chicken Rice, a local specialty that is both delicious and affordable.

In conclusion, Mae Salong is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Northern Thailand. With its stunning views, tea plantations, and hill tribe communities, there is something for everyone.

Nearby Attractions

Mae Salong is a beautiful and serene place, but if you’re looking to explore more of Northern Thailand, there are plenty of nearby attractions worth visiting. Here are some of our top recommendations:

Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai

Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai are two of the largest cities in Northern Thailand and are both easily accessible from Mae Salong. Chiang Rai is known for its stunning temples, including the famous White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) and the Blue Temple (Wat Rong Seur Ten). Chiang Mai, on the other hand, is famous for its night markets, delicious street food, and ancient temples.

Pai and Chiang Dao

Pai and Chiang Dao are two smaller towns that are popular with backpackers and travelers looking for a more laid-back vibe. Pai is known for its beautiful scenery, hot springs, and waterfalls, while Chiang Dao is home to some of the most impressive caves in Northern Thailand, including the Chiang Dao Cave.

Fang and Mae Hong Son Loop

Fang is a small town located in the heart of Northern Thailand and is known for its beautiful scenery and friendly locals. The Mae Hong Son Loop is a popular motorcycle route that takes you through some of the most stunning landscapes in Northern Thailand, including the town of Mae Hong Son and the Pai Canyon.

Whether you’re looking for ancient temples, beautiful scenery, or delicious street food, there’s something for everyone in Northern Thailand. Make sure to check out these nearby attractions to get the most out of your trip to Mae Salong.


Mae Salong is a beautiful and unique destination in Northern Thailand that offers visitors a glimpse into the rich Chinese culture and history of the region. The town is located in the Mae Fah Luang district of Chiang Rai province, close to the border with Myanmar. It is known for its stunning tea plantations, Sakura cherry blossom and sunflower fields, and the friendly local hill tribes, including Akha and Pasang.

Visitors to Mae Salong can explore the town’s fascinating history by visiting the Martyr’s Memorial Museum, which commemorates the Chinese Nationalist Army soldiers who fought against the Communist Party in China. The town also offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling, and motorbiking.

For those who want to explore the surrounding area, Mae Salong is conveniently located near other popular destinations in Northern Thailand, such as the Golden Triangle, Mae Chan, and Mae Sai. These towns offer a variety of attractions, including temples, markets, and scenic viewpoints.

If you are planning a trip to Mae Salong, it is recommended to use Google Maps to plan your itinerary and navigate the area. It is also important to note that Mae Salong is located in a mountainous region, and some of the roads can be challenging to navigate. Visitors should exercise caution when driving or riding motorcycles, especially during the rainy season.

Finally, it is worth noting that some of the local hill tribes in Mae Salong and the surrounding area do not have Thai citizenship and may face discrimination. Visitors are encouraged to be respectful and mindful of local customs and traditions, and to support responsible tourism practices that benefit the local community.