Soppong is a small market village a couple of hours northwest of Pai. There’s not much to see in it, but the surrounding area is defined by dense forests, rushing rivers, caves and mountains. This is the place where people come for outstanding nature in Thailand.
Soppong is far removed from the packaged tourist hordes and it’s one of the most remote areas of Thailand. After tourism growth in nearest town Pai, now more travellers come across the mountain to Soppong for a more quiet stay in a traditional small village. Also, there is still real forest (including teak) and jungle in the area, unlike many other areas of Thailand that have been completely stripped of trees as a result of slash and burn agriculture. This is the territory of exploring the jungle and the caves, bird watching, and splashing in the river, with most visitors opting for early nights at one of three guesthouses. Yup, it’s so tiny tiny.
This village really lies just 45 kilometres from Pai, but it’s far away away from bustling tourism scene. Not many of Pai’s visitors make it as far as Soppong. At first, we thought we have too many things to fit on one motorbike, but knowing our perfect packing skills we managed to fit on one bike with three bags. We looked funny and even locals laughed at us.
This village has some of the most spectacular mountain scenery to be found in Northern Thailand. So you will stop quite often to be delighted by the roadside views.
You won’t find many places to stay in Soppong. So it’s better to book in advance. One fine place where you can get wifi and even a pool (remember it’s a village) is Little Eden Guesthouse. They even prepared vegan meals for us and cooked beans for us as we asked.
The village is a trading and market centre for the many hilltribe villages that populate the area. Every Tuesday there is a big market, when people come from all over the villages. You can also visit the main Soppong village market every day if it happens that you visit not particularly on Tuesday.
What was the most surprising thing for us that you can find hilltribe people selling their goods by the road and you can find strange, unseen eatable things.
This was a recommendation of my sister Auste and her boyfriend. They visited this place before us and were inspired by their pictures to go there.
The best place to see sunrise around Soppong is called Mae Lana. It’s about 15 km drive from the village and you need to get up really early to be there on time – while it’s still dark. The road to there is winding and it takes about 30 minutes to get there on a motorbike.
The scenery is worth the efforts to get there. You can enjoy the mist of clouds and first sun beams.
This fantastic view attracts a lot of tourists, so you won’t be able to enjoy it all alone. If you are a photographer you can get easily annoyed, because the wooden platform on which you put your tripod is moving endlessly and you need it to be still to capture the moment. So, as a photographer it’s not the bet place to go, nevertheless we met many photographer there. But the reason may be only because it’s a bit harder and further to get to another great sunrise view point Phu Chi Fa. We liked the latter one better.
All words by Eisve Treciakauskaite and all images by Justinas Lekavicius, unless otherwise noted.