Rico Resort Chiang Kham is truly off the beaten track by any measure.
How many people have heard of Chiang Kham, Thailand anyway?
That’s ok, this fork had to check Google Earth first too. And I haven’t found it on many bucket lists either.
Most importantly, good hotels in Chiang Kham are hard to find.
If you are looking to discover new destinations in Thailand and do new stuff, Rico Resort Chiang Kham (starting from 1,600 baht (US $49) a night) is the place to stay.
Alas, we digress, more on Rico Resort Chiang Kham later.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) likes its ‘Unseen Thailand’ slogan, or it once did. I never saw mountain biking around Chiang Kham promoted but it should have been.
This ride starts near the gates of the Rico Foundation, owner Rico Fowler’s well-established educational and tennis charity.
It has provided education to over a dozen at risk Thai youth, in addition to training Thai female tennis protégé Noppawan Letcheewakarn and other young players.
A brief morning rain shower makes the ride muddy fun doesn’t stop until you reach the edge of Thailand’s Phu Sung National Park on the Lao border.
Perched on rice paddy dikes, we weave our way over muddy bridges and through rural villages, providing a time capsule of a simple bygone era in Thai history.
It’s epic not because of extreme or difficult terrain, but because of what you experience along the way.
Simply put, most of rural Thailand doesn’t look like this anymore. As we ride by local Thais all know Rico – the red headed foreigner. He has lived and worked in Chiang Kham since 1999 and pivots through country roads like a boss.
The trip surprises visitors by the stunning beauty of colourful houses and temples juxtaposed with seasonal emerald green rice field backdrops.
And there is also a little known, yet possibly somewhat difficult to prove, historical footnote of the same colour.
Local legend has it that Thailand’s revered Emerald Buddha was hidden for years at Chiang Kham’s Wat Prakaew temple after being taking from Laos in the 15th century.
History or fable, Chiang Kham’s old wooden Wat Prakaew is retro and wonderful in equal measure, and the story is an excellent yarn.
Today’s Chiang Kham could have been part of Chiang Rai province at the time, so who’s to say it’s not possible right?
Mountain biking to Phu Sung National Park can be a leisurely ride under 15k round trip.
It’s a good workout, but returning back to Rico Resort Chiang Kham is the best part of this adventure.
That’s another story for later.
As a teaser check out these stunning photos of Rico Resort Chiang Kham (images only unless you read Polish;).
The resort’s very exclusive 3-bedroom private villas are perfect for company tennis retreats, leisure groups or families reunions.