Hidden Gems: Galabag Homestay, Thoen, Thailand

This homestay in a village near Thoen in Northern Thailand, is an ideal rest stop for cycle tourists and other independent travellers. In an immaculately restored traditional Thai teak house, it's one of the true hidden gems in Thailand.

What We Love

  • Beautiful garden to relax in
  • William’s warm welcome
  • Like a home away from home
  • Mini tour of the village
  • Wonderful food

Best For

Cycle tourists
Motorbikers and independent travellers

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After a long, hot day of cycling, we ended up in Thoen Buri, a small town part way between Chiang Mai and Sukhothai.

The three hotels on the main road were overpriced and skanky and after a very disappointing lunch in the musty restaurant of one of them, we couldn’t bring ourselves to check in. We had one last hope, which was the “School Homestay” marked on our PocketEarth App a little way out of town.

We hadn’t been able to find a speck of information about this place online, so naturally, we assumed it didn’t really exist. As we wound our way away from the busy main streets, into a tidy residential neighbourhood along the river, we knew there couldn’t possibly be a guesthouse back here.

Who could ever find it?

Then we rounded a corner and saw a prominently displayed sign reading “Thoen Homestay”.

Stay here if you're in Thoen.

Stay here if you’re in Thoen.

Next to that was another sign, at the same house which said “Galabag Homestay”.

What’s So Great About It?

The homestay is run mostly as a hobby by a friendly fluent English speaker, Withaya “call me William”.

William showing off his garden to Stephen, at Galabag Homestay.

William showing off his garden to Stephen, at Galabag Homestay.

The house is a traditional Thai polished teak home, immaculately maintained and stunningly beautiful. The gardens are equally awe-inspiring, landscaped with several kinds of palm tree, thousands of bromeliads, Spanish moss, and firestick cacti among countless other plants and trees.

William's garden at Galabag Homestay.

William’s garden at Galabag Homestay.

Technically, this is a cyclist only guesthouse, but we know Withaya also hosts motorcyclists and other independent travellers. Thoen isn’t exactly crawling with tourists, so we’re pretty sure he won’t turn you away (unless he doesn’t like the look of you).

After we arrived, Withaya took us on a tour of the village, introducing us to local monks, bookstore owners, and restaurateurs. For dinner, we took away some curries from a small restaurant where Withaya always buys dinner for his guests. He also got us a huge portion of sweet and sticky mango rice for dessert.

The highlight of the stay was getting to while away the hot evening in William’s cool garden, talking with him about life, politics, and religion until we could no longer keep our weary eyes open.

If you go, make sure to look for our picture in his guest book!

Find out more about our stay →

How to Get There

If you’re riding south on the 106 from Li, turn right onto a small road (labelled 1102 on Google Maps) just before you cross the river Wang into Thoen. The Galabag Homestay will be on your left, just past Wat Um Long.

See our route map for more details →.

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