You can’t travel around Thailand and not get lost or go on a wild goose chase at least once. That’s what happened on my latest road trip around Nan. In the end, my friend and I managed to find what we were looking for: the oh-so-scenic spot known as Ban Tai Lue Café.
Or as Google knows it, Bantailue (กาแฟบ้านไทลื้อ).
I learned about this unique place while researching different things to do in Nan, one of the lesser known provinces in Northern Thailand. Unfortunately, I got stumped when I tried to find it. Not one guide provided the correct English spelling (turns out it wasn’t Baan Thai Lue, Baan Tai Leu, or Baanthailue), its name in proper Thai script, or a map.
Getting Lost in Thailand’s Rice Paddies…
If you’ve ever hopped in a car or on a motorbike and driven yourself around Thailand, one thing you’ve undoubtedly struggled with is getting to a new place on the first try. On a positive note, you can have some pretty cool views along the way.
After some aimless driving around another similarly named spot, we succumbed to asking directions from the driver of a local tourist tour group. To our pleasant surprise, he knew where it was.
Coffee and Views at Ban Tai Lue Café
All of that hunting was well worth it in the end. That’s because the café turned out to be our favorite stop during our day trip around Nan.
Ban Tai Lue Café is one of three coffee shops on this particular stretch of country road Rt 1081 in the Pua District of Nan. Whichever café you choose to visit, they all provide a stunning panoramic view of rice fields with mountains in the distance.
What makes this place so unique are the stilted, thatched-roof salas suspended several feet above the rice paddies and fields of Cat’s Whiskers. An interlacing network of bamboo and wood bridges connects each hut, which is a pretty interesting feature.
Looking down onto the rice from above was such a cool perspective. Normally to get this angle, I’d be knee-deep in mud and worrying about snakes and other creepy crawlies.
The landscape was incredible. Several handsome water buffalos and a rustic waterwheel rested at the edge of the rice paddies. Woven banners and bolts of fabric gently fluttered in the wind and brought a pop of color to the scene.
The onsite cafés brew espresso drinks from locally sourced Arabica beans. For anyone who prefers something less caffeinated, there is tea, too. Lemon iced tea and green tea latte are my favorites.
Whether you fancy sitting at a table, a Thai-style floor cushion and triangle pillow, or prefer to lounge in the hammocks, this is a beautiful place to roam with a camera in hand or to relax with a good book.
Locally Woven Fabric from Lamduan Textile
If you’re into locally sourced products, be sure to take a peek into the Lamduan Textile warehouse just next door. The large shop features Thai Lue woven handicrafts that are unique to the Pua District.
Colorful and inexpensive, this is shop has something for anyone. There were lightweight, casual tops and fisherman pants as well as formalwear starting at 180 baht.
Bantailue Café Homestay
This little roadside viewpoint keeps getting better because guests can enjoy the views of rice paddies and mountains from the time they wake up until sunset.
It wasn’t until after we left that we learned the stilted buildings along the perimeter of the property were part of the Ban Tai Lue Café Homestay. They share the same gorgeous views as the café.
A little more digging revealed that the price is 1,500 baht per night. This includes dinner and breakfast for two people as well as up to six drinks (coffee, tea) from their cafe. We just might have to stay there for a night the next time we’re in town.
How to Get to Ban Tai Lue Café, Homestay, and Lamduan Textiles
You’ll find these places in Pua District of Nan Province, which is about an hour’s ride north of Nan City.
If possible, go there on a weekday to beat the crowds. We know it’s a popular place with locals on Saturdays and Sundays! We went there in the middle of the week and we were lucky that there were only a handful of people.
GPS: 19.145823, 100.940665
Cafe: (089) 264-6058 or (081) 882-7767 (Open 8am to 5pm daily)
Homestay: (062) 308-4010
Now that I know where it is, I plan to make it a mandatory stop during future trips to Nan. This part of Thailand is incredible and I only wish I’d visited sooner. Travelers looking for something off the beaten path or expats who want to get away from the traditionally touristy cities should definitely add this to their list.