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The Chai Lai Orchid
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Reviews (381)
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Reviewed March 6, 2013

At first I was a little hesitant about staying here as it was more pricey then a lot of the cheap Thai places... However, I decided to give it a try as it had good reviews.... I am so happy I did!! Two years ago I did the elephant trek and felt slightly disappointed as I was in a seat on the back of an elephant... Not even touching it!!

Being at the Chai Lai Orchid I got to see the elephants in every stage of their day!! Even got to swim with a baby elephant and when i rode the elephants i got to sit on their neck, NO cart!!:-) the resort itself was amazing! The rooms are clean and nicely decorated right on the river, the food was constantly delicious! And the owner took time to give me information on how they are supporting the local community and I saw her give free English lessons while I was there to local kids!! I loved knowing that by staying here some of the money I paid was going back to the community! Truly an amazing place and I highly recommend it!!:-)

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled solo
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Thank Tarah D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 27, 2013

Absolutely love this place. I live in Chiang Mai and heading to Mae Wang for a weekend of relaxation and elephants - Chai Lai Orchid is the perfect getaway. Also, its an excellent place to take visitors who can only spend a short time in the area, because it includes all the highlights Northern Thailand has to offer tied up into one feel-good package: elephants (new baby just born!), bamboo river rafting, hill tribe trekking, and excellent Thai food at their restaurant (the curries are some of the best I've had anywhere and the soft shell crab with garlic is to die for). Oh, and the beds are some of the comfiest I've slept on since arriving in Thailand 8 months ago (a comfy bed is hard to find around these parts)!

The eco-resort itself is serene, a lovely spot perched next to the river and surrounded by mountainous jungle, conveniently sharing property with the elephant camp next door so you get to see elephants roaming around all day long (and definitely don't miss out on the opportunity to bathe one of them - unforgettable experience)!

The best part of all is that when you stay at Chai Lai Orchid, your money is going toward a very important cause. Sex trafficking is a huge and heartbreaking issue in Thailand, and the owner of Chai Lai, Alexa (a delightful person), started the resort as a new social business model to fight it. Local girls at risk of sex trafficking can take on paid apprenticeships that will teach them the necessary skills for a career in Thailand's booming hospitality sector. Also, local children can come take English classes and empowerment workshops at the resort. As idyllic as Thailand is, I think it's important for visitors to learn more about the issues faced by the locals. By staying at Chai Lai Orchid, you will not only have an unforgettable experience, but you will also be making a small difference in the lives of the girls that work there. In other words, this is a place you can feel great about spending your money (and it's not even that expensive).

If you come to Thailand, don't miss this wonderful place!

P.S. We went in the middle of the supposed "worst" time of the burning season and found the air quality there to be just fine - way better than it is in Chiang Mai!

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Hilary6078
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 23, 2013

Wanting something with more to offer than a hotel in the city we come across chai lai orchid on airbnb we were both stoked about going there and were not dissapointed nice huts, serene location and cafe by the river, Cheap prices for food and drink and great food try the chicken pad thai its the best.

We arrived at night just two hours after a new elephant was born and one of the girls there offered to take us to see him straight away, relaxing banboo raft ride along the river then elephant ride, I highly recommend the elephant ride without the seat and bath in the river with them its lots of fun and more of an in touch with nature feel about it than the commercial tourist enterprise most other lodges and elephant rides offer.

The area is about an hour drive from the airport but well worth it especially for a relaxing few nights away from the hustle and bustle of the city, definately suggest you go there.

Room Tip: the smaller huts are nice but the larger ones are right by the river with nice view and covered balcony worth the upgrade.
  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Malditang D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 11, 2013

My girlfriend and I just got back from a two week trip to Thailand and the highlight was Chai Lai Orchid. Alexa was very responsive and helpful on airbnb to coordinate our visit and travel to and from Chiang Mai. We arrived to a magical place with a suspension bridge that carried us across a small river and into the relaxing resort.

While checking in, the baby elephant lightly touched me on the shoulder with her trunk and I offered her a banana. Mr. Korn gave us a very warm welcome to the resort, was available throughout our stay, and went the extra mile to help us make the most of our stay.

Our eco-hut was lovely, made of natural stone and wood walls with a thatched roof-simple but romantic. Each hut had a balcony that overlooks the river and trails that the elephants use throughout the day.

The restaurant is outside, overlooks the river, and is the center of action for the resort, where you can watch people navigating down the river on bamboo rafts, the elephants bathing in the river, and all entrance and exit from the resort over the suspension bridge. The meals were fantastic and the ambiance at night was just right. Soft shell crab and Pad Thai were our favorites.

We felt part of a big family. When I mentioned that my girlfriend was celebrating her birthday, the staff went into town and brought back a birthday cake and we celebrated that evening with the mahouts, other guests and resort staff.

What a great way to start the day when you can journey up to meet the elephants that have spent the night on the mountain and enjoy a ride down to the river where they get their morning bath. After the elephants are done working for the day, you can bathe them in the river and ride up to drop them off at the top of the mountain once again.

Other activities we enjoyed at the retreat included a visit to Mae Wang waterfall with a swim in the falls and lunch. A bamboo raft down the river and a hike up to a Hmong village, where we enjoyed a local meal with a family in their village. We also took a walk down the river of the resort and enjoyed meeting locals and other travelers enjoying the scenery and activity.

The elephants appear to be very well treated and can be fed bananas and sugar cane throughout the day. It is very exciting that a baby elephant is due any day. The resort offers a cool respite from the warmer temperatures in town. In the evenings be sure to have a long sleeve shirt and pants. Perhaps what is most amazing about Chai LaiOrchid is its mission to help protect at risk women. On our last evening there, we were excited to spend a couple hours teaching English to some of the staff and local children.
We can't wait to go back and visit soon

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank livingitup31
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 9, 2013

Thank you so much to Alexa and Kong for our wonderful week at the Chai Lai Orchid. Our arrival was not ideal because my partner and I arrived still dealing with some kind of stomach troubles we had picked up either in Bangkok or Myanmar. Kong's wife, Pwon, drove us to a nearby clinic the first morning we were there, and after being evaluated during a relatively fast and organized exam, we left with medicine and were on our way to recovery. The Chai Lai provided the perfect setting in which to rest and recover. After a few days, we felt like venturing out, and Kong arranged 2 days of adventure for us. He has a talent for listening to customers to decide what they want to do, how much time they have, and what their budget is. We spent our first day trekking to hill tribes where women wove beautiful fabrics, to waterfalls with swimming holes, and, after a delicious Thai meal, a relaxing float back down the river on a bamboo raft to the resort. The following day, and much recommended, was a full day as an honorary "mahout" or elephant handler. The opportunity to get to know the mahouts and see firsthand their skill in handling the immensely powerful, gentle, and beautiful elephants was as special as spending the day riding, swimming with, feeding and caring for the elephants. Most of the rooms are individual cabins with en-suit bathrooms and very comfortable beds. We had thought we would want to venture into Chaing Mai for a day of site-seeing, but once we got to Mae Wang and the resort, we stayed put. Alexa is building a social business by offering English literacy classes to local children and job training and education to at-risk young women. Alexa, Kong, and everyone at Chai Lai took wonderful care of us. A bonfire and traditional Thai BBQ on our last night was the perfect ending to a near-perfect week. Speaking of food, the restaurant serves some of the best food at the best prices we've found in Thailand. Seriously, it's all here.

Room Tip: Call or email Alexa to discuss your plans. She enjoys getting to know guests and is very good about promptly replying to messages.
  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank ToddWig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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