Chai Lai Pre-Departure Guide
Welcome to Chiang Mai!
Whether this is your first time in Asia, or you are a regular visitor to the Land of Smiles, this page is for you. Find our top travel tips for a smooth trip and learn about our home, the Chai Lai Orchid.
What is the Chai Lai Orchid?
Our founder, Alexa Pham, came to Thailand six years ago with the dream of opening an empowerment project for indigenous and refugee women - strong, smart, resilient women who happened to be from some of the most oppressed populations.
But Alexa was broke.Undeterred, she borrowed a bunch of money from some super friends and family, and rented some abandoned buildings in a forest in Chiang Mai. A few more amazing friends came together to help with painting, renovating and dreaming to create a one of a kind social business, the Chai Lai Orchid - a jungle hideaway offering tours, treks and lodging to intrepid and socially minded travellers.
The Chai Lai Orchid uses its profits to fund all Daughters Rising’s projects. The Chai Lai Orchid also provides a safe place where at-risk women get paid full wages to learn hospitality job skills, English/Thai language, women’s health, and human rights so that they are less vulnerable to traffickers.With your help, Chai Lai does its part to ensure our vocational trainee graduates are independant, empowered and can even provide a brighter future for themselves and their whole community.
An important part of what we do here is our real world job training program. Prior to entering our program, some trainees may not have never had the opportunity to stay at a hotel, eat in a restaurant, use electricity or attend school. They are learning about hospitality for the first time. Keep in mind, too, that for refugees that English may be their third or fourth language - but they really want to practice and improve.
Thank you so much for being a vital part of our program and enjoy your stay!
The Daughters Rising Family
Don't worry, you won't need to fend for yourself in the jungle. We have three dining options onsite.
Chai Lai Orchid Cafe is open from 07:30-22:00. Continental breakfast, lunch, dinner are available as well as elephant happy hour, wine and cocktails.
Phutawan Cafe offers Thai food and beer. Open 08:00-20:00. Cash only.
Plern Cafe serves delicious cappuccinos, american breakfast, organic flower teas, fruit smoothies and Thai food. Open 7:30-15:00 and a day pass is also available (200 THB) to use their salt water swimming pool. Cash only.
Bathrooms in Thailand
For your comfort, all of our rooms have private bathrooms and showers with western toilets. But please do NOT put tissue in them.
Every country seems to have its own bathroom etiquette, flushing system, and stomach-endangering foods. If you are coming to Asia, be prepared to get to grips with the joys of a squat toilet! For more on this and other practical tips for first timers in Thailand check out our blog post 10 things to know about Thailand before you go.
Getting to the Chai Lai Orchid
Please note: the Chai Lai Orchid does not have its own vehicle. These prices are standard rates, set by the drivers and paid directly by you. Taxis only accept cash in Thai currency.
From the Airport You can request a driver to pick you up from the Chiang Mai Airport — the driver will wait at the arrivals exit with a Chai Lai Orchid sign with your name on it. The driver can make stops or wait while you change money. 800-1200 thb.
From a Hotel a driver can pick you up from your hotel in the city. Just let us know the name and contact number for your hotel, and the time you'd like to be picked up. 800-1200 thb.
Driving directions The Chai Lai Orchid is located 55 km/1 hour from downtown Chiang Mai. The GPS is 18°38'22.5"N 98°41'57.0"E 18.639583, 98.699167 and our address in Thai is 202 หมู่ 9 ต.แม่วิน อ.แม่วาง จ.เชียงใหม่ 50360. You can find us on Google Maps!
What to pack...
...and what to leave at home.
To take the stress out of packing, be sure not to forget the essentials: We are in a rural non touristic area there are no ATMs or pharmacies near by. Bring cash, and any mediciation you need. Our general packing list is here.
Extra top tips for women travellers here.
We are passionate about elephant wellbeing and we know you are too. But there's a lot of myth and misinformation online about what constitutes good care for elephants, and it's important to do your research and get information from experts who spend their careers studing elephants (not profiting form them). Please take a few minutes watch a video and get educated on Elephants in Thaiand.
Before you buy tickets to any elephant park in Thailand, please consider reading about ethical animal tourism to get a deeper understand the difference between captive and wild elephants and how you can best help them both. You can also learn more about our approach and challenges to rescuing elephants.
Weather in Thailand
Choosing the best activities based on the season and weather can make your holiday even more enjoyable. Thailand's weather consists of six months of rainfall during the wet season, three months of cool season, and three months of heat during the hot season.
Temperature in Thailand ranges from 18 to 38°C, with occasional highs of 40°C+.
Make this your best vacation yet check out our top tips.
It’s always useful to have a few handy apps on your phone - especially once you’ve your your Thai SIM card. Here’s our round up of the best:
Grab - Like Uber. Use this app for a quick and easy way to get across the city
Foodpanda - If you fancy some home comforts, you can order food from Chiang Mai’s best eateries to your door
Line - Great for contacting small businesses and new friends. More popular than WhatsApp in Asia
Thai by Nemo - Great phrasebook app with phonetic pronunciation and native-speaker recordings