I have loved farmstays since I was a child.
There was something about it that was so simple yet so quaint. Exciting, even. A deep fulfilment tinged with a glow of pride when I announced that the eggs we were having for breakfast had been collected by myself from a mother hen or that our milk had just been squeezed from the udders of a black spotted cow. The air in the countryside was invariably fresher, the wind gustier and filled with the sounds of crickets and cicadas. It felt like a throwback into simpler times. A reconnection with a part of myself that I had not even realised had become subsumed by outside noise and distractions; the pings, movie dates or Big Night Outs.
Unsurprising therefore that farmstays have been experiencing a grand revival in recent times. We are all about going back to the basics. Eating responsibly, living cleanly and disengaging from our devices (is that even possible?!) when the weekends and holidays roll by.
If farmstays strike your fancy - and don’t worry, you can still enjoy a certain level of modern amenities and comforts although the internet might be suspect - then why not consider making a trip down to one of these gorgeous countryside farms for a stay?
Image by Phong Nha Farmstay
You cannot talk about Vietnamese farmstays without making a reference to the Phong Nha Farmstay. Having opened in 2010, the Phong Nha Farmstay is run by a husband and wife team, Ben and Le Thi Bich, who grew up in the local rural community and was the first farmstay to operate in Vietnam. The farmstay consists of a dreamy collection of French Colonial buildings nestled in a surrounding that is every photographer’s dream: lush green rice paddy fields, cloud piercing karst mountains, wild jungle, rivers and the Hang Son Doong - the largest cave system in the world. This cave is located within Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which became a UNESCO world heritage site in 2003, and is one of the largest limestone regions in the world. One of many reasons why this rural area is seeing a tremendous influx of adventure seekers.
Given the sheer proliferation of caves and trails to explore, even a week might not suffice in covering everything on offer! You can hop on a motorbike to the nearby Bong Lai Valley, kayak down the Son River which joins all the cave systems together, zip line across rivers, go spelunking in Hang En and Hang Lanh cave (including a night spent camping on a beach in the cave), go jungle trekking, lagoon swimming or even visit the semi-wild enclosure in the Botanic Gardens.
There are multiple ways to get to the Phong Nha Farmstay. You can opt for local buses, taxis, private cars or even an adventurous two day motorbike tour via the old Ho Chi Minh trails. To arrange for the mode of transport that aligns closest to your preference, we recommend reaching out to the hosts at the Phong Nha Farmstay.
For further information, visit https://phong-nha-cave.com
1 km East of Ho Chi Minh Highway, Cự Nẫm, Bố Trạch, Quảng Bình, Vietnam
Images by Thung Dong Farm Stay
Thailand is known for its food, shopping and beaches. A haven so filled with things to do and dishes to try that even a dozen visits will prove inadequate, and you leave knowing that a return trip is required, pronto.
For those seeking a more nature-based experience, we recommend trying out the Thung Dong Farm Stay. Located in the highlands of Northern Thailand and 50 km away from Chiang Mai, this working farm is run by Chaiwat Pankaew (better known as “Ae”) who first bought the land where the farm sits on to breathe life to his version of heaven.
Nestled in the bosom of forested mountains, it is perhaps unsurprising to find that the activities on offer include rafting, zip-wiring over forest canopies or going on hikes ranging from 2 hours up to an overnight stay in a jungle lodge with campfire. If you were hoping for a peaceful holiday, you can join in on the animal feeding, soak in the two hot springs nearby or go golfing. For a truly unique experience, you can boast to your friends about having flown in a vintage Tiger Moth at the nearby airfield! Just ask Ae, who will be more than happy to help with all the arrangements.
Interested in dropping by? Ae is able to meet you within Chiang Mai City, the Chiang Mai International Airport, Chiang Mai Railway Station, or Chiang Mai Bus Station, so no worries there. All you have to do is plot out your dates and submit that booking form!
For further information, visit https://www.thungdongfarmstay.com
บ้านปางจำปี Thungdong Farmstay ถนน ห้วยแก้ว Mae On District, Chiang Mai 50130, Thailand
Kindly note that Thung Dong Farm Stay operates a minimum Two Night Stay policy.
Images by Philipkutty’s Farm
Kerala, which means “land of coconuts”, was chosen by the National Geographic Traveller as one of the “50 Places of a Life Time” and is home to Philipkutty’s Farm. This 35 acres family-run working farm is built upon land reclaimed from Lake Vembanad back in the early 1950s and possesses a series of gorgeously constructed waterfront villas available for guests to stay in.
Anu and her family pride themselves in making every guest feel welcomed, always looking to personalise each stay without diluting the real “Keralan” experience. You can go on a sunset cruise on a vallam (country boat), bird watching, cooking classes, farm walking to learn more about the family’s organic farming practices, countryside explorations by bicycle, fishing, yoga, firefly watching or even seek out a treatment from the nearby Ayurvedic Centre.
All food is included in the price, which contains strong Syrian-Christian influences and revolves around fish, homegrown vegetables and fruits, duck and chicken. Specialities include the red hot Kerala fish curry, Karimeen (pearlspot) and fish molee.
The best time to visit is between October to March, and we feel that this is the ideal farmstay for those seeking a little solitude or a relaxing getaway while soaking in the true Keralan life.
Philipkutty’s Farm is located 75 km from the Kochi International Airport, 20 km from Kottayam and 25 km from Alleppey. The farm can only be accessed by boat, which will be waiting for you upon your arrival. Direct airport or hotel transfers can also be arranged by the host on request at additional cost.
For further information, visit http://www.philipkuttysfarm.com
Have you ever been to the West Malaysian highlands?
The Moon River Lodge is a family owned farmstay that lies in the cool valley of the Sigar Highlands some 32 km from the town of Brinchang in the Cameron Highlands. Able to take up to 45 persons in its 14 rooms, the Moon River Lodge works closely with its sister company, Food Forest Company, which supplies prestigious supermarkets like Isetan Supermarket and Ben’s Independent Grocer with its organically and hydroponically grown produces. Such an association is crystallised in the farm-to-table meals prepared for farmstay guests including homemade jam, chutney and sambal, as well as the opportunities to visit and get your hands a little ‘dirty’ in its greenhouses, food forests and home gardens.
Beyond the farm, you can go on rafflesia treks, self-guided night walks to hunt for fireflies, or visits to the nearby fish farm and pecking house. There is also a little sensory pool that is perfect if you have just finished a hike at Mount Irau, which is the highest mountain at Cameron Highland with an elevation of 2110m.
This farmstay is perfect for company retreats (but beware the slow wifi and lack of ensuite toilets!), families, research groups (many university students use it as a base to research the local Lojing Hotspring geothermal activity) and even hikers looking to conquer the nearby mountain peaks.
Jalan Gua Musang - Cameron Highlands, 18300 Lojing, Kelantan
If you don’t fancy the drive up to the highlands, consider a visit to the 120 acre fruit plantation of the The Orchard which is located near the UNESCO World Heritage Centre of Melaka. Apart from being a 4 time winner of the Wellness World Spa Awards, you get to try glamping in 30 of their spacious canvas tents in the midst of the tropical wilderness. For those unfamiliar with the term, “glamping” is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as outdoor camping with amenities such as proper beds, electricity and access to indoor plumbing that are not usually associated with camping. In other words, living beside nature while still indulging in some modern day comforts.
Making full use of nature, there are opportunities to go on canopy walks, orchard trail walks, safari night walks, mud swinging or fishing while indulging safari bush breakfasts and bush barbeques. Whether you are looking for a place to host weddings, gatherings, student outings or corporate team buildings, the Orchard will likely have a package that fits your needs.
For further information, visit www.orchardsafari.com or send a Whatsapp/SMS to Adeline, +6016 325 8888
63, Kampung Brisu, Lubok China, 78100, Melaka, Malaysia (20 minutes drive from Simpang Ampat Toll, Melaka)
If you have never done a farmstay before, we recommend giving one of the above a go. The beauty of Southeast Asia is that it is a collection of wildly diverse cultures and heritages, making every stay a unique experience. Since we all love a good bargain, head over to Mayflower.com.my to start your adventure!
A faith-driven Sarawakian lawyer who believes that it is never too late to start crafting a socially impactful legacy. When not grappling with warranties and liabilities, she loves pursuing adrenaline-fueled adventures, improving her Español and playing the violin. You can find her at @vidadeliya or reach her at vidadeliya at gmail.