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“Wholesome, life changing and fun.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Chai Lai Orchid

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The Chai Lai Orchid
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202 Moo 9 | Mae Win, Mae Wang 57110, Thailand   |  
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Certificate of Excellence 2014
Brisbane, Australia
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Wholesome, life changing and fun.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2013

Before we arrived at Chai Lai we knew we were in for something special. The staff are such a lovely team, all very willing to help and to learn. Alexa's goals for her team and for Chai Lai should be remembered, as well as remembering you're in Thailand, and like many chilled out happy countries (such as islands) you are operating in "Thai-time".

Some of the fabulous moments we had at Chai Lai include our guided walk in the jungle, where we swam in an incredible waterfall, walked through local village, through rice paddy's and along the river. It was so remote and our guide was very informative.
The elephants, just having them around you constantly, getting to know their individual personalities, bathing and swimming with them....unforgettable.
Visiting some local villages and spending time with the Karen people.

The room was simple and comfortable, the shower had hot water and there was air con in our room for the hot nights. The food was great and fresh. I certainly could live here quite comfortably!

Our red truck driver that Chai Lai use was most helpful, we were extremely helpful and trustworthy when he came with us to Doi Suthep temple where he asked for a special blessing for us. This was very special. He was always there for us when we needed to be picked up.

Lastly, Chai Lai really taught us what life's about. Simplicity and helping others makes you happy... Thank you Alexa for following your heart and giving us the opportunity to see the real Thailand. We will be back :)

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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138 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (31)
Date | Rating
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English first
Brisbane, Australia
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2013

We stayed at the Chai Lai Orchid as a family for 5 nights and it was one of the most memorable and amazing experiences of our lives. I am amazed to read a previous review and find that they did not have as special experience as us. Chai Lai Orchid is all about doing good for those in need. Alexa has set up the business to inspire like minded people to bring a piece of this back home. The main goal of the Chai Lai Orchid to me was to give guests a memorable experience in a peaceful setting by enjoying what the local community and environment had to offer. Alexa ticked all of these boxes.
On our first day we woke up early and hiked up the mountain to find the elephants where they had been sleeping that night. We rode the elephants bare back down the mountai and into the water where we washed them and played with them. This was a highlight of our trip. Later that day we asked Alexa to organise a hike throughout the jungle to a local Karen Village and waterfall. We had a wonderful guide who told us all there was to know about the Karen people and the local produce that we found on our way. We also came across some Buffalloes! We then floated fown the river back to Chai Lai on a raft. It was a very busy day but these activities gave us a taste of the environment we'd be staying in.
Chai Lai is not the place to go to get free accomodation or meals for your volunteering, nor are many other places in the world though if you are interested in volunteering throughout your stay, Alexa is very helpful and will surely try and find something for you. The staff are currently learning to read english and could always use some extra help!
Alexa is one of the most beautiful women we have ever met but she still need to make a slight profit so that she can continue to help. The money (though not much) thtat we spend on accomodation, meals and activities are the staffs wages. Without Chai Lai the staff would still be in unfortunate situtations such as people traffickig or refugee camps.
We learnt that human rights can be a hard thing to come across if you are a refugee or other foreign person. By giving these people employment, like Alexa has, they are setting them selves up a future where they have rights.
While we stayed at the Chai Lai we went to a local Karen village and donated 20KG of clothes that we had brought with us from home. The women were very grateful as were the men. On our last day we experienced one of the highlights of our trip. Alexa took us with her to a Burmese village also known as 'long neck tribe'. These women are not allowed to leave the small confines of their village. We taught them some english and their ABC's. They were beautiful women who loved to learn despite the fact that they do not have a school in their small village.
We will definitely be back at Chai Lai soon as all of the staff were beautiful. We miss Alexa, Bo and the elephants already! Thank you Alexa, for an eye-opening experience.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2013

The moment you step out of the truck and witness the elephants munching on their grass, you know that you've entered somewhere special. Crossing the huge bridge that straddles a river, your greeted with a complimentary fruit smoothie while you check in.

Rooms are renovated with all the amenities you'd expect from a highly ranked hotel. The nights are filled with the sounds of the jungle and the location allows you to completely relaxed.

The social enterprise is the real beauty however, as local staff are recruited through an employment program to learn valuable hospitality skills which enable women to leave the village and earn incomes that support their families.

The initiative and hotel is more than an impressive and the value for money is amazing. Great for solos, couples, families and anyone looking to see a real gem in Thailand.

  • Stayed July 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bangkok, Thailand
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2013

As a family of 5 with 3 young energetic sons, this place was a dream come true! The lanna style room we had was perfect for our needs although I would have preferred the room to have been cleaned at least once while we were there. The feeling of waking up to the sounds of the elephants was amazing and my sons got to ride on elephants, go tubing and bamboo rafting down the river, all arranged by Alexa who runs the resort. The staff here are all learning about hospitality and a few mistakes were made but nothing that couldn't be sorted. Also, we found that patience was needed as requests were sometimes met with vague responses. The idea behind The Chai Lai Orchid is a fantastic one and you get a real sense of the day to day living in this community. It really was, for us a once in a lifetime experience that we will never forget!

Room Tip: Lanna style rooms are great for families.
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 25, 2013

We just spent 4 days with Alexa and her wonderful and caring staff. We were met with a warm welcome and a lovely cool banana drink. Just what we needed after a hot few days in the city of Chiang Mai. As we sat at the cafe and watched the bamboo rafts float by, waving to many of the people enjoying the river, we sipped our drinks. The luggage was carried to our room for us, and soon we were enjoying the view of the river and elephants making their way past our window. Our room ( number five) had a feeling of an nest high up a tree with great views and a nice breeze, cool off the river below.
The food was delicious and the traditional Thai dishes were so good we mostly stuck to them, but the bacon and eggs I had were tasty as well. One evening after a nice trek into the jungle to a gorgeous waterfall and a visit to the Karen village, the chef came out with a new dish for Alexa to try. She immediately added it to the menu. A tasty tapioca and sweet corn that really was a delight.

Alexa is also making sure that she does this in an ecologically responsible way. Good practices for the washing and water use as well as helping offering training to some that need a hand and and being a good steward of the beautiful area and people she is working with. The people and the elephants are all being very well cared for here and it shows. Warm similes from the staff and everyone is so helpful. Several families were there and the staff were right there helping keep the kids happy and engaged during a bit of rain. Then the sun came out and it was all smiles and playing in the river.

We really enjoyed our selves and were sad to leave. I know we will be back and we will be telling all of our friends and family about this great place.

Room Tip: All are great but we loved Number 5, with a view of the elephants and the river.
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2013 via mobile

We had an amazing time here. We initially stepped across the bridge over the river and knew we were in the middle of absolute jungle. The sights and sounds were stunning. They immediately took our bags and took us straight to our room. It was the wrong room with no AC due to their mistake but we were not charged for that one night. We were moved to another room with AC the next morning. The staff and Alexa were very accommodating and personal. Everyone was gracious and genuine. The service needed some improvement because the staff are still in training stage. All staff are hilltribe people given a much better opportunity at this elephant camp. Many have come from horrible environments and now have this opportunity to flourish and grow. By staying at Chai Lai Orchid you are supporting a wonderful cause. By the way, riding elephants bareback in the jungle is also a great incentive to stay as well. I loved it!

  • Stayed July 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bangkok, Thailand
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2013

Rooms where not cleaned when we arrived, and found out later that we where using the room of a guest that had to be send to a hospital. Clearly the remains of a bad food experience where left behind in our bathroom. In order to get to the resort, visitors need to use a 50m long hanging bridge. This is not child friendly at all. Last, we totally support the eco and nature friendliness of this resort, but most of the time hygiene is being the forgotten factor in eco friendliness. Elephant dung next to the dining area is not something that should happen. You see the flies flying from you the dung to your plate...

Room Tip: Consider when travelling with young children. Fast running water, steep hills, and a scary bridge wa...
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alexapeak, Owner at The Chai Lai Orchid, responded to this review, March 3, 2014
Thank you for your feedback. As this social business is a training program for at-risk local girls, we really value any input guests have that can help our staff improve. While being located in the jungle among elephants means encountering hills and rivers, that's what most guests love about coming here and we have many families with small children who enjoy their time here. I'm sorry if your room was not clean. I wish you had let us know during your stay so that we could have addressed your concerns. We would like to offer you a free stay, which you may gift to your friend or family if you choose and will not expire; please email us at explore@chailaiorchid.com.
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Additional Information about The Chai Lai Orchid

Address: 202 Moo 9 | Mae Win, Mae Wang 57110, Thailand
Phone Number:
Location: Thailand > Chiang Mai Province > Mae Wang
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 7 Specialty Lodging in Mae Wang
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Chai Lai Orchid is a nature retreat nestled beside the river and surrounded by lush tropical forest. The eco lodge is a social business working to empower Karen and Kayan women. Here you can spend your days swimming with elephants in the river, lounging hammocks, and trekking to visit near by waterfalls and hill tribe villages. The Chai Lai Orchid is located inside an elephant farm so you can spend your holiday interacting with the beautiful Asian elephants who live here. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
The Chai Lai Orchid Chiang Mai Province, Thailand

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