The Ontai community is known as “Baan Chum Muang Yen” because it has three rivers flowing through. The rivers are the Mae On, Mae Pha Tha, and Huai Lan. Along with these rivers, the area has two royal projects reservoirs, the Huai Lan and Mae Pha Tha.
They are the water source and reason the agriculture in this community is so vibrant. The beautiful mountain surrounding the town is referred to as “Southern Fuji,” but its actual name is Doi Mon Ching. Or Doi Chieng in Northern dialect, which means steep mountain.
Ontai… from an ancient community to the House of weaving
The Ontai community is a community that has been around for a very long time. The evidence of its age shows in the celadon ceramic source called “Tao San Kamphaeng,” which was influenced by China around the Da Ming dynasty. It can be assumed that this community started making Tao San Kamphaeng celadon ceramic during the reign of King Tilokraj. The town lost the Kiln when King Bureng Naung hit Chiang Mai around 1441. People say that when this area was rebuilt, many ancient wares were dug up. They now reside at the temple.
The inscriptions found at Wat Chiang Saen reveal that the San Kamphaeng people’s origin is connected to those from Panna Phu Lao, Chiang Saen. This puts it 200 years after Phaya Mang Rai had already established the city of Chiang Mai. The inscriptions refer to King Sililati Mangkon, who gave ten thousand swords to build the Viharn Phra Tripitaka pagoda.
When Chiang Mai was conquered and had become a Burmese colony, the city became desolate. When King Kawila came into power, he expelled the Burmese and revived the city. He gathered people from Yong town, Khong River Basin, and Khin Sipsongpanna Basin to be the city’s labor force.
Mae-On importance to the San Kamphaeng District was diminished when the office was moved to Ban San Kamphaeng in 1903. They then changed its name from Mae-On Subdistrict to San Kamphaeng District. And the San Kamphaeng District became renowned for its silk and fabric production.
But when tourism to Ban Mae Kampong became popular, tourists had to pass through Mae-On. Luckily along the way, there are many good restaurants and coffee shops to accommodate visitors who are traveling up to Mae Kampong.
The Ontai community today, a vibrant agricultural community that takes pride in its sustainability. A nature-friendly area that has led them to secure their own food sources. This place is excellent for learning and dining. We can assure you all there’s candy for the eyes, food for the stomach, and nourishment for the soul.
The Kings White Elephant
We started our trip by driving from Chiang Mai’s city center and arriving at Need Cafe. This is where we met up with Nam Khiao to get on the community vehicles used for the tour. Maitree and Thiam, the drivers of our tour vehicle through the community.
Thiam’s cloth bag caught my eye, and I asked why he brought it. He responded by showing me what was inside. Honestly, the situation caught me entirely by surprise. In the bag, he had a picture of King Rama IX. It was a very old photograph, and he had several copies as well as documents printed, stapled, and well conserved. Thiam then told us about a young elephant born in Ban Pha Na forest, which was given to King Rama IX.
The story begins with Kaew Panya having acquired a 40-year-old elephant named Mae Kampo. She mated with Phlai Bun Chu and gave birth to an auspicious elephant. When the Royal Palace was notified, they came to inspect the baby. They found that this little elephant had a characteristic that matched the majestic elephant Pho Kaow. The family then decided to give the white elephant to King Rama IX in 1966. Unfortunately, this white elephant died due to diabetes before traveling to Bangkok.
However, Thiam told the story with a twinkle in his eyes. At the end of the tour, he took us to the White Elephant Memorial at Ban Mae Pha Tha, located in Mae Pha Tha Bai Tobacco Station.
Learn about deliciousness at Ontai farm
The Ontai farm embraces the self-sufficiency economy theory of Mr. Yopinyopisai and Mr. Chao Chatrungprakobwaidthayakit.
Located towards the back of the farm, they have allocated a tourist agriculture area. The designated area is divided into 4 parts: housing, reception, vegetable plots, and activity area.
Ontai Farm is perfectly equipped for any big corporate events due to the area being very spacious. The grounds and garden area are so vast that Mr. Yopinyopisai said the vegetables grown were not just eaten by the family. It could also be sold, used to feed the guests who come to stay, and maintained all year round. Mr. Yo invited us to collect vegetables and cook. The vegetables grown here are grown organically. They do not use fertilizers because they believe that the soil is already well maintained. And of course, they are more than happy with the amount of vegetation that’s produced.
Besides food workshops, there is a restaurant on site that uses the organic vegetables in their menu. If you want to visit Ontai, and do activities within the community or eat food at the Ontai farm, then call Mr. Yo at 0849147111 and Mr. Jao at 096 6985508
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Villagers in San Kamphaeng have mastered weaving from an early childhood. As well as learning various color processes. Fahmai Handloom is an education center for people who are interested in weaving and the coloring process. They can walk you through every step from collecting the cotton, spinning, dyeing, and weaving.
They only use natural the process of dying at Fahmai Handloom. For example, Fang wood is used to get a red color. Using the bark of the Peggy tree to get a dark green color. Including utilizing jackfruit heartwood to dye it yellow. There is also a wide variety of handcrafted fabric and community products for you to choose and buy as souvenirs.
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Monsiri Mulberry Garden
If there is one place that you cannot miss, it is the mulberry garden at Monsiri Mulberry. They offer every type of mulberries dish possible. You can eat them fresh, have a mulberry Smoothies, or soft-serve ice cream. One of the unique specialties that they offer and that you should try is the Som Tam with mulberry or spicy mulberry Thai salad. What is also unprecedented about this garden is that you can come at any time in the year, and they always have mulberries. Because they have designed and plant, cut, and yield in rotation for each plot throughout the year.
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Learn to make a cup at the Knowledge Center in Wat Chiang Saen
The oldest temple in this area is Wat Chiang Saen, which was built during the time of Phra Yod Mueang, the eleventh king of the Mangrai dynasty. As mentioned above in the inscriptions referring to King Sililati Mangkon. He gave ten thousand swords to build the Viharn Phra Tripitaka pagoda and named the temple Salakan Hantaram. The Bagan Pagoda, which is within the temple, is still magnificent. Villagers said that the temple has a Sapa Kham (golden boat) and golden shoes that can make people fly.
There are rumors that someone previously tried to excavate searching for the Sapa Kham and shoes but ended up being struck by lightning. Since then, no one dares to search for relics at this pagoda anymore. The Viharn was built around 20 years ago and is currently undergoing a complete restoration and replicating the look of Wat Ton Kuan instead of restoring the original form.
Near the temple area, there is a learning center named San Kamphaeng cups of Wat Chiang Saen. It is believed that this center of Muang San Kamphaeng district is the original source of the fish-shaped wares, which has become a part of community identity.
Get to know Ontai at Wat Pa Tung Museum
For a very long time, Wat Pa Tung was a deserted temple. It is assumed that it was built using the same blueprint as Wat Chiang Saen before being restored. The temple became quite famous because of Luang Pulatathip. There is a mausoleum inside that keeps the body of Luang Pulathip for future generations to worship. The pavilion also features beautiful paintings done by local artists, which tell the stories of Lanna’s 12-month tradition. These rare traditions are preserved through this art, including ghost dancing and Tan Luo Hing Fire God tradition.
Another exciting part of the temple is the community museum, which houses unearthed ancient relics and various inscriptions. The inscriptions have been translations by Somdej Phra Kanittha from the Department of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Siam Boromrajakumari. It is said that when the stone inscription was found, the villagers tried to use a knife to clean the stone. The inscription was later found to be chipped, and it is assumed that the chipped stone is probably in someone’s house.
Sunday Walking Street Market
On Sunday, villagers bring their goods to sell right in the middle of the community. The walking street road is approximately 1 kilometer long and is filled with fresh goods, dry goods, and household appliances. They begin selling as early as 6:00 am and continues until 10:00 am when the market starts to fizzle. There is also a yogi who seems to always be in a good mood. Sitting, playing the flute, and talking to all those who walk by. People seem to really enjoy the small chit chat and always walk away with a smile.
Lekdee Losto, a small shop in the community
From cities to small towns, the hidden gems are always talked about. This community is no different; you can’t help but hear about the small hidden restaurants that can be found here. Pa Sor Noodle Shop is just that restaurant. Which was completely busy when we stopped by to try their noodles. This shop has been selling in the community for about 3 years, and they sell both noodles and Khao Soi.
This is a new shop that is opening up around a developing area. The owner has put their effort into both the taste of food and the atmosphere of their restaurant. You can also sit at the restaurant’s back, where you will get to enjoy the landscape as you look over a rice field. A great view while eating som tam, what else could you ask for?
The name of the restaurant Tamsum Namsaen (Huean Mai @ Himon), the owner, said that it just opened right before COVID hit. But the shop should be open again by the time you read this. The Santol salad with dried fish is delicious.
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Need Cafe near the Lim Nong Kee Ma Fa
A community meeting point and a recreational area, Need Café has a wide assortment of food and snacks. From basil to spaghetti and coffee, desserts to bingsu. They do all of this very diligently and at an excellent price too. On the weekends, locals and tourists come to spend a relaxing time enjoying the view and feeding fish. Thiam met with the community guide who told us that this pond was originally named Nong Kee Ma Fa And later changed Nong Phaya Phrom. But before we go actually going further into history, the food arrived and disrupted my concentration. Nevertheless, I think that if you are in town, it is worth stopping by this beautiful shop.
Facebook Fanpage: Need Cafe
Big noodle bowls at Chom Thung
It can be for the weekends or public holidays, and it gets very crowded. This shop is a tourist favorite because there are several different foods, including noodles, a la carte food, coffee, ice cream, and bakery. They have everything to please people of all ages. There is a vast garden for children to run and play. Mascot statues at various locations is an excellent opportunity for taking photos with the family or the kids. It’s all fun even though I don’t like posing for pictures. I still joined in the fun, haha. As for the noodles, the bowl is huge!
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Chiang Mai Art Museum
During the opening, I heard that they had plans to turn this area into a more extensive art museum with 10 buildings. For now, there are only 2 buildings. It is expected that the museum will gradually continue to be developed. They also have a residential area for artists behind the museum, so they live onsite and work on their creations
In front of the museum is a cafe called Naive Café in Art, which is a very chill looking cafe. Beautifully laid out from the walkway to the back. Great place to sit and discuss the fantastic pieces that you just observed inside the museum.
Facebook Fanpage: Chiang Mai Art Museum
Beautiful, fragrant kissing photos at Nasi Jumpru
I have been a fan of this restaurant for a long time. No matter where it moves, I follow and eat. Besides the food being so beautifully plated and presented, it also tastes incredible. The chef is thorough in finding fresh ingredients and puts a lot of creativity on the plates. From the visuals to the taste, it feels like you are eating a piece of art.
A fun and interactive dish, the Shake Okra Ham, comes with a bottle, will shake, and pour over your food before eating. They often shift the spicy salads’ ingredients, namely Ham Sirloin, Smoked Pork, and Yum Miang Krathon. For example, When the strawberries are in season, it was used to create a flavorful salad.
Facebook Fanpage: Nasi Jumpuru
Rock & Loft Cafe and Resort
A beautiful loft-style coffee shop and restaurant, with lodgings available behind the restaurant. There are many different types of food options available on the menu. Most importantly, it is all delicious. The one I love very much is Kanom Jeen with Crab Curry. As for the younger ones in our group, the desserts and spicy basil tray was the big hit.
This shop had a solution for every need. If you have an outing with many people, don’t worry, they have many seating options for you. Anyone who needs a presentation space can use the side room with a neat projector, great internet, cold air conditioning, feeling like an oasis during the summer. The shop uses many local products like their coffee uses beans from Thep Sadet, and several ingredients are also bought locally.
Facebook Fanpage: Rock&Loft Cafe and Resort