I spent a night in an off-the-grid tiny house in northern Thailand. It was a perfect — but expensive — way to experience the area’s views and weather.

Wood and Mountain Cabin, Mae Rim, Thailand.
  • I spent a night in a cabin-style tiny house in northern Thailand.
  • A night’s stay at the 592-square-foot lodge cost $238.
  • The cabin had an outdoor tub, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and panoramic views of the mountains.

Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Chiang Mai is home to around 1.2 million people. The province is best known for being the capital of the ancient kingdom of northern Thailand, what locals call “Lanna.”

The province has its own language, culture, and cuisine that is distinct from those in central, eastern, and southern Thailand. More than 10.8 million tourists visited the province in 2019.

Chiang Mai is especially popular for its elephant sanctuaries, national park, and budding cannabis industry.

Just north of the city center is Mae Rim, a mountainous district known for its cool weather and sleepy villages.

Mae Rim, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

I spent a week in Thailand at the end of July for a reporting trip and was keen to check out the country’s tiny-house scene, so I booked a night’s stay in a tiny house on Airbnb. The cabin-style lodge is located in a small neighborhood in Mae Rim.

Wood and Mountain Cabin, Mae Rim, Thailand.

The house has a five-star rating from four reviews on Airbnb. One traveler said the stay was “refreshing,” while another said the amenities, like the fireplace, were “spot on.”

At $238 a night, the tiny home wasn’t cheap. In fact, despite its size, it was more expensive than most accommodations in the area: Hotels in Mae Rim generally cost between $10 and $255 a night, a quick Google search shows. Insider paid for my stay in full.

Inside the Wood and Mountain Cabin estate.

The house stood out compared to the other properties in the neighborhood, as most other homes were bungalows and cottages.

The tiny home is owned by a local woman named Vachira, who asked to be identified only be her first name. Vachira said she chose the location because she wanted to “create a sense of escape from the city.”

Wood and Mountain Cabin, Mae Rim, Thailand.

Vachira said the exterior of the lodge is waterproofed using a Japanese technique called Shou Sugi Ban, where wooden surfaces are charred with a flame.

While staying alone in a remote lodge in Thailand may seem daunting, I felt safe: The door had double locks, and a gated fence surrounded the house. I barely saw anyone around during my stay, save for the housekeepers.

Door locks.

The interior of the house was made of glass and wood materials. Vachira told me she took inspiration from the book “Cabin Porn” by Steven Leckart and Zach Klein.

The first floor of the cabin.

The interior of the house measures only 40 square meters, or 430 square feet, but is fully furnished with a living area and kitchen. Vachira said Chiang Mai-based architecture firm Sher Maker designed and built the house. It took around six months to build.

The first floor of the cabin.

The house had high ceilings, which made it feel larger than it really was. It was certainly big enough for a solo traveler like me.

The view of the kitchen from the bedroom.

I had dinner alone in the dining room, which I ordered from the local restaurant via a food-delivery service.

The bathroom had a shower area and a toilet with a bidet. Toiletries like toothbrushes and soaps were provided, and they were made from bamboo.

The bathroom.

The best part of the house was the 15-square-meter deck, which had a panoramic view of the outdoors. There was also a large wooden tub that was perfect for lounging.

The view from the couch.

It took around 30 minutes to completely fill up the tub. I spent part of my evening relaxing in the tub, but had to leave after 15 minutes as I started to get bitten by mosquitoes.

Me in the outdoors tub.

I didn’t get a chance to light up the fireplace, but it was available for guests to use.

The outdoors.

On the second floor was a narrow walkway that led to the bedroom.

The second floor of the cabin.

The bedroom was sparsely furnished — there was only a double bed and side table. The bed was comfortable, but I woke up with ants crawling all over me, and the sounds of birds chirping and pecking on the windows kept me company all night long.

The bedroom.

The bedroom had a spectacular view of the jungle and mountains thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. I had complete privacy and didn’t see anyone else around the vicinity.

The view from the bedroom.

It was longan season when I visited, so the housekeeper gave me a stalk of the fruit that came right from a nearby farm.

Longan from a local farm.

Overall, the lodge offered total privacy and a luxurious retreat away from the city. It’s the perfect place to experience the gorgeous views and cool weather of northern Thailand.

Me at the cabin.

Vachira said the estate was designed to be as dimly lit as possible so that guests can “see the stars at night on a clear day.”

I’d recommend that guests bring along a strong flashlight to enjoy the outdoors and star gaze after dark, and to pack a light sweater as Mae Rim can get pretty chilly at night. It’s also useful to set up a mosquito coil beside the tub while relaxing to avoid getting mosquito bites.

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