Our Challenging Journey to the Bamboo Nest de Chiang Rai & Overall Experience
Updated: Apr 11, 2020
Sam and I were sitting together at a food spot, in the empty and half closed down Chiang Rai airport late at night. We landed in Chiang Rai with no ride and no communication between us and Nok, host of the Bamboo Nest de Chiang Rai. Wait let me bring you back a few steps to why we had no ride or communication... Our dilemma started back in Bangkok. Hot and sweaty running towards the check in counter, while juggling all our bags in a panic to catch our flight. We get to the counter and are told they will help us get on the flight, but they can not accept any checked baggage because it was extremely late. Relieved we ran to security but were immediately turned away because of the liquids in our luggage. We were bummed because the employee at the counter led us to believe they were making an exception for us. Luckily, we got a new flight booked, and waited 3 hours.
We arrived in Chiang Rai around 7 p.m feeling very exhausted and hungry. We tried to get in contact with Nok, but it was extremely difficult due to the poor internet and cell connection on the mountain. We sat down to eat and figure out what our next move was. Time kept on ticking away, as we slipped deeper into the night and we still had no response. We had a long day and just wanted to be in a bed, sleeping. We tried to think of our options.
Option 1:Get another hotel for the night and figure it out in the morning or
Option 2:Get in an Uber and hopefully we get there.
We decided to take a risk and go for the latter (Sidenote: Uber was new to the Chiang Rai area so all the pricing and maps were not accurate.).
The two hour journey to the Bamboo Nest began as we drove up to the mountain in the pitch dark. The beginning of the ride we were worried, but knew we were a while away. As we got closer and closer, we got more anxious...maps stopped working, we didn’t know which turn to make, the roads were windy, and it was pitchblack out. At this moment, our minds were racing with all the possible outcomes...Are we going to make it there? Are we going to fly off the side of this mountain? Are we going to get left on the side of the road? Should we trust this driver?
The uber driver was getting restless and frustrated (It was his first time driving Uber, poor guy). The uber pulled over after driving in circles for 20 minutes, looking for the entrance of the mountain. Our hearts were pounding and we were staring at each other. The driver got out the car and was on his phone attempting to reach Nok. We felt skeptical but figured it was our only option. Somehow he made contact and told us he’d be down soon. We got into Nok’s jeep and began our journey up the mountain. We were relieved, but still on edge climbing a steep mountain on a dirt road (no way you can make it up the mountain without 4WD). The day wasn’t easy but reaching the top and seeing how quiet and peaceful the bamboo nest is, made it all worth it.
Getting to the Nest
Getting to the nest should be easy when everything goes according to plan. Nok e-mailed us prior to our journey for arrival dates and times. He offered a pick up service from the airport to the Bamboo Nest. If we would’ve arrived on our proper flight, I do not see there being any issue with getting to the Nest. Nok provided contact information such as, e-mail, phone number (for a local phone number), and whatsapp (if you don’t have a local number). Nok provided transportation back to the airport, as well. Nok seemed very worried when we finally did get to him and was relieved to see we made it.
Environment & Experience
The Bamboo Nest felt like heaven on earth because of the serene atmosphere. The Nest was away from the chaos of everyday life and we were surrounded by pure nature. There was no wifi and limited electricity. It gave us the opportunity to disconnect from our everyday chaotic life and really be at peace in nature. The Nest was our first accomodation that was not in a busy city. It was the perfect timing to be in nature because we needed to unwind from our constant traveling from city to city. I’m not sure which was more beautiful, the morning view of the sun rising and the hot spring smoking the chilled air in the distance above the mountains or the infinite sparkling stars in the night sky.
The hosts Nok and Noy, his wife, were very accommodating and welcoming. They cooked all of the meals together and served us different types of Thai food each day. They made the best curry! Every meal they cooked was delicious. Eating in the dining area was always enjoyable because there were benches looking out to the amazing view on the top of the mountain. The experience was intimate; everyone staying at the nest ate together and interacted with each other. Although Nok was a man of few words, he was hilarious (One day he was wearing a hat that said grumpy grandpa).
The Bamboo Nest cottage was spacious with an amazing outdoor balcony. The shower area was nice. However, the hot water in our particular cottage didn’t work so well. No one else seemed to have this problem. The bed came with a mosquito net and was comfortable, from what I remember. The balcony was our favorite part of the room because there was a hammock with an amazing view.
Nok and Noy gave us a map of the area for trekking and exploring. They also provided tours, but we decided to explore on our own. Nok and Noy’s dogs were just as welcoming as they were! They led us on a journey to the Huay Kaew waterfall. The falls were really far, but brought us through a local village. It was amazing to explore the area and seeing how locals lived. There was also tea plantations in the area.
One of days, we decided to go down to the hot spring. We were a little disappointed because the hot spring were located in a park and blocked off due to the high temperature. I’ve only been to one other hot spring before so I imagined it was the same as the one I experienced. To get to the hot spring we had to climb down the intensely steep mountain side and back up to get home. We were so sore the next day that we spent it relaxing and reading.
We would highly recommend this place for accommodations when traveling to Chiang Rai, Thailand! It is nice to know that when we are traveling, we are giving business to the locals. Places like the Bamboo Nest are charming and show travelers the true beauty of their culture. We did not get to see the typical temples (this was by choice because the Nest was so beautiful) and other things most tourists see in Chiang Rai… but this experience was one of our favorites and we would go back again if we could!
Check it out if you’re interested: http://bamboonest-chiangrai.com