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Akha Mudhouse

Interesting & well-intentioned but overpriced

Hloyo Village, off Highway 1234, approx. 6 to 7 kilometres southwest of Mae Salong T: (093) 258 9994

Akha Mudhouse

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If Mae Salong isn’t remote enough for you, or you have a particular desire to immerse yourself further in hill-tribe culture then the nearby Akha village of Hloyo, set high atop a mountain shrouded in lychee and coffee trees, offers the unusual Akha Mudhouse experience.

Hloyo, a largely Christian settlement, lies just off Highway 1234 as you come up from the Kiew Sathai junction with the Tha Ton—Mae Chan road, and is around 6 or 7 kilometres southwest of Mae Salong town. The Akha people are the predominant ethnic group in the hills surrounding the Sino-Thai township and provide the bulk of the workforce for the ubiquitous tea plantations although casual visitors will most commonly see them selling fruit and vegetables in roadside stalls around town.

Akha Mudhouse enjoys a spectacular outlook.

Akha Mudhouse enjoys a spectacular outlook. Photo: Mark Ord

Tea picking or flogging a few cabbages is a tough way to make very little money so the Akha still form a decidedly underprivileged section of the local community and the rudimentary and poor conditions of many of their villages contrasts dramatically with the affluent, in-town Sino-Thai community running their boutique hotels, tea tasting shops, restaurants and of course plantations.

Akha Mudhouse was created by one of the village’s more fortunate residents, Yohan, who apparently studied in Israel as well as qualifying as an English speaking tour guide in Chiang Rai, with the commendable intention of demonstrating Akha culture and traditions to visitors while funding various community projects for his village. Previous schemes include providing spring water to the village and clearing a soccer field for the local kids.

Designed with a flourish.

Designed with a flourish. Photo: Mark Ord

Employing traditional methods, he built this part guesthouse, part eco-lodge, part village stay using traditional materials such as the area’s distinctive red clay, bamboo, thatch and rice husks along with some compromise concrete for stability, on a hillside on the edge of the village. It is a highly eclectic and seriously ramshackle collection of constructions with pride of place being a very pleasant wooden cafe area including open kitchen, reception, small bar and souvenir collection around which (and even under which) are the varying room options, viewing terraces and even a small museum.

Their 18 rooms are either in small single-storey blocks or separate chalets, all of which come with the traditional-style woven roofs and red-coloured clay or adobe fashioned walls. Interiors vary in size, though were often relatively cramped and we felt the ubiquitous, intense brick-red colour scheme did get rather oppressive after a while. Considerable efforts have been made with some imaginative decor both inside and out consisting of stucco work and patterns of glass bottles embedded in the walls and floors.

Putting those empties to good use.

Putting those empties to good use. Photo: Mark Ord

Furniture is minimal due to the room sizes while concessions to modernity have been made with electric fans, hot showers and glass window panes. WiFi stretches to the restaurant only though. It’s a shame that rooms—even the larger ones—don’t have balconies and that you can’t open the fixed windows while shared bathroom options are reached via inconvenient staircases.

The owner is certainly enthusiastic and his concept commendable yet it has to be said that we strongly doubt architectural design was his study subject and while adjectives such as quirky or cute may spring to mind so do others like ramshackle and messy. Some elements work and others don’t and there’s an overall inefficient use of space and lack of attention to detail with the roof of one room block rendered as a broad but redundant open terrace while the spacious cafe area—a large chunk of which is taken up by the open Akha style kitchen—also forms the flat roof of a second block of rooms. (Sleepers had better hope fellow guests tread lightly.) We realise it’s relatively new but a minimum of landscaping in the messy garden wouldn’t go amiss either.

Enjoy the views from the cafe.

Enjoy the views from the cafe. Photo: Mark Ord

The above are admittedly details and perhaps wouldn’t have mattered until we saw the room tariffs. It’s all very well that there are no high season supplements and that a simple local-style breakfast is included but 900 baht for a small shared bathroom, fan room with no WiFi is as steep as the hillside upon which Mudhouse is built.

Akha Mudhouse is easily reached if you have a bike—which would also allow you to nip up to Mae Salong for lunch for example—while by public transport you’d have to get the songthaew driver to drop you off by the turn of track on the main road. From here it’s around a 1-kilometre walk to the far side of the village though they claim if you call they will pick you up. In addition they offer collections or drop-offs at Tha Ton or Chiang Rai for 1,500 and 2,000 baht respectively per vehicle though bear in mind Tha Ton is less than a 30-minute drive.

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Walk-in rates at Akha Mudhouse

Type of room
Type of room, low and high season prices
Dbl fan share bathroom
900 baht
900 baht
Dbl fan private bathroom
1,300 baht
1,300 baht
Up to 1,500 baht
Room: Dbl fan share bathroom, low season: 900 baht, high season 900 baht. Notes:
Room: Dbl fan private bathroom, low season: 1,300 baht, high season 1,300 baht. Notes: Up to 1,500 baht

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Where is Akha Mudhouse

Akha Mudhouse
Hloyo Village, off Highway 1234, approx. 6 to 7 kilometres southwest of Mae Salong
T: (093) 258 9994
Coordinates (for GPS): 99º36'42.13" E, 20º7'22.58" N
Room rates: 600B to 1,500B

Map for Akha Mudhouse

Map for Akha Mudhouse

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