We’ve all got an idea of what makes for a perfect place to stay. From a remote Scottish bothy to an indulgent 6* hideaway resort, a hip city hangout to a private villa on the best beach in the world. But surely there’s a magic ingredient that applies to all of the above, no matter how different they may at first appear and we think that Northern Thailand, and Mae Hong Son in particular might just have it nailed!
Mae Hong Son town is in many ways the forgotten heart of Northern Thailand. Chiang Mai gets hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, Pai gets its fair share of both backpackers and flashpackers but Mae Hong Son seems to be just that bit too far for most leaving the area to those with a little more adventure in their hearts and, I guess, the desire to get away from the crowds and experience real Northern Thai friendliness.
Take a short 15 minute drive South of Mae Hong Son town and then turn off down what feels like a very rural road and you’ll find Fern Resort, and if you’re anything like the team at The Tuk Tuk Club, once you’ve found it you’ll never want to leave.
Walk in and immediately any worries and stresses you’ve had seem to disappear. Not because of obsequious service and bowing and scraping but more because it seems like you’ve entered a zone where everything is calm, everyone is relaxed and smiles rule the day – and that’s just the entrance.
With a number of bungalows – although bungalows doesn’t do these little homes from home justice – spaced around ride paddies and forest it almost feels as If you’re in a remote village. A small river runs down one side of the resort and on the other side is just forest – and not some manicured Four Seasons forest, just the real deal.
Head to the top of the resort and there’s a great laid back restaurant serving great hearty Thai food – with a smattering of Western dishes for the less adventurous – a swimming pool in the heart of the forest and a footpath directly to the side taking you on an 8km trek.
Head to the front of the resort and there’s the world’s great sunset bar. Anywhere can do cold beers but can they ever taste any better when in front – and in fact all around you – are mountains, forest, rice fields and the sense of peace that I don’t think I’ve ever found anywhere else in the world, irrespective of how luxurious or back to basics somewhere is.
Fern has it just right – everything works and the rooms are really comfortable but nothing is over done or over designed. The staff are lovely and full of stories but not following you around and bowing and scraping. The location is just awesome – there may be bigger forests out there and taller mountains but somehow the combination in this one location seems to tick the box in everyone’s mind.
On a recent visit we were accompanied by someone who’s been everywhere and experienced pretty much all there is in the world of travel. They were keen to head out for adventures in Mae Hong Son town on the evening we were staying at Fern. Fine we thought, a shame but all good. However, within 5 minutes of arriving at Fern, things changed and nobody wanted to go anywhere other than to enjoy the surroundings, peace, nature and of course that sunset bar. If Fern can do that to someone who’s seen everything then that’s good enough for us.
Next time you’re thinking of an adventure in Northern Thailand, don’t miss out on Fern. Adventurers with The Tuk Tuk Club stay here for 2 nights on each 11 day trip and trust us, it’s not just a highlight of the trip but a highlight of the year.
Get in touch at [email protected] and experience it for yourself