I wasn’t durian hunting that morning. I was out for an early morning jog. Or I was supposed to be running. Within 1 mile, an excited durian farmer was pushing seconds-ago-cut durian into my hands.
It was the perfect kind of cut durian — not-too-sweet, slightly salty, thick cream cheese with a hint of chewy skin —
“Come, stay,” the farmer encouraged me. “Come stay my homestay. Free durian for you.”
And that’s the problem with Koh Chang Island. There’s amazing, super-high quality durian everywhere.
You can’t even take a run in the morning without the temptation.
Video Tour of Mae Somboon Homestay
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This small Homestay near the end far tip of Koh Chang Island is in a durian orchard and includes free Durian in the cost of staying there (during season of course). We happened to find it while out running when I noticed them harvesting a huge pile of durian and stopped to ask questions. You can read more about Mae Somboon Homestay at www.yearofthedurian.com/kohchangfarmstay
About Maesomboon (Mother Somboon’s) Homestay
Maesomboon Homestay is on the farthest tip of Koh Chang Island, almost as far away as you can drive from the loud tourist beaches of the West Coast.
Turning left from CentrePoint ferry pier, it takes a full 30-minutes driving on the winding coastal road, past the tiny intersection of Salakphet Village, to the durian orchard and a small dirt driveway leading to Maesomboon Homestay.
The small aquamarine house is partially on stilts over a mangrove swamp, with a large dark-wood deck and beautiful views of Salakphet Bay and a private pier.
Uncle Wan said he and his brother, Jeet, take visitors on boat and snorkel trips around the bay, while his mother, Somboon, cooks them excellent local seafood with a Vietnamese flare, kudos to her immigrant mother.
Somboon and her sons were all born on this bay, as was Somboon’s father, as was his father. Google Translate didn’t manage to communicate “great-grandfather,” so I’m not sure for how many generations the family has been living in this swamp by the sea. But it’s a long time.
In Dan Mai, we met so many durian farmers whose grandfathers immigrated from Hainan, China. It was neat to meet a family who had been living in this isolated corner of Koh Chang for basically forever.
Where you stay and sleep
The Homestay part comprises 3 very basic air-conditioned rooms, large enough to fit 6-7 thin mattresses on the floor. One had lovely big windows (above). One had no windows at all (below). We didn’t see the 3rd one.
It was surprising to see the air-conditioning units on the walls, as well as a sign advertising free WiFi. I tested it, and it was fast enough to put high-end hotels in Bangkok to shame.
The rooms face the large open-air living space, down the hall from 4 Thai-style toilet&shower combo stalls.
And because I find the whole bathroom situation to be one of the biggest dealbreakers for fellow travelers, here’s a photo of said bathroom situation, so you know exactly what you’re getting into:
On the opposite side of the hall from the bathroom, there’s an enormous kitchen where Somboon sits at the wooden table and keeps her fingers busy with peppers, garlic, and various local fruits.
The family has been running the homestay for about 10 years, and seemed really comfortable with us even though they barely spoke English. I think everyone was thankful for Google Translate!
About the Durian Orchard
Richard and I were on a jog from our *interesting* stay at Island View Resort & Spa (still not sure where the spa was), about 1 mile further along the road and then past the end of the road on a narrow cement motorbike trail along the bay.
I’d noticed the durian orchard on the side of the road, but that morning there was an enormous pile of durian and at man-woman team busy in the orchard. The man climbed the trees, dropping the durians down to the woman, who waited with a burlap sack and snatched them up as they fell.
Luckily for us, Jeet and Wan were standing by the durian pile with Tip, a durian seller from Khao San Road in Bangkok who had come to collect 300kg of durian to drive back.
Jeet and Wan don’t speak English, but Tip was able to help translate.
The orchard is 40 years old, planted by Wan and Jeet’s father when Chanee Durian was in vogue.
They added Puangmanee about 10 years later, making those trees 30 years old.
Old enough to be delicious.
Despite our somewhat feeble protests that we were running (and not wanting to eat freshly cut durian), Tip sliced open a Chanee just thrown down from the tree.
It was a shocker.
I expected the ultra-fruity, somewhat nauseating sweetness of cut Chanee, a waxy texture, and crunchy bits the Thais call kang. After all, it was literally seconds off the tree. How could it be ripe enough for this nim-nim-suk-suk loving farang with Malaysian-durian tastebuds?
To be polite, I took a nibble. It was cheesy. It was ultra-creamy. It was nutty. It wasn’t fruity at all. It was delicious.
Richard, in shock, wolfed down the whole durian.
How could tree-cut durian be so good?
I have two theories:
- The weird nauseating sweet flavor comes from the artificial ripener usually used on Thai durians
- Wan and Jeet waited to cut their durians until some where falling off the tree on their own, meaning these were really really close to fully ripe. In Thailand, durians can be cut up to 9 days early — before fat content has fully developed — and that’s why these Chanee so cheesy and good.
- The orchard is organically managed.
How to get to Mae Somboon Durian Homestay
Facebook: Homestay Maesomboon
Phone Number: (+66) 095 487 6582
Mae Somboon Homestay is located on the northwest side of Salakphet Bay, with a private pier over the water, about one mile before the end of the road.
Expect a 30-minute drive from Centrepoint pier and a little further from Ao Sapparot pier, where you can get the ferry to Trat mainland.
Use this map to navigate to Mae Somboon Durian Homestay and other durian farms in Koh Chang, Trat, or durian around Thailand.