This side of Thailand: Bubble house paradise where dreams come true

Thailand has got to be on most backpackers’ travel bucket list and we absolutely know why! We’ve got Bangkok’s iconic Grand Palace, floating markets by day and dazzling nightlife with lively pubs and cheap beers by night; adventurous seaside excursions in Pattaya; the awe-inspiring Buddhist temples, and the trendy cute cafes in Chiang Mai for digital nomads to set up your picture-perfect workspace.. There are also islands such as Koh Samui, Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Phangan for their famous full moon parties and countless idyllic beaches to unwind. Haven't we mention the traditional outdoor markets and delicious street food that can be found all around the country? It’s definitely a must-visit country that is NOT going to disappoint!

Away from the hustle and bustle of tuk tuks and top tourist destinations though, there’s even more magic that hasn’t been discovered yet. Up the highest mountains of rural Northern Thailand, is a stunning eco-retreat that will be sure to catch your eye from afar…

birds eye view of bubble house eco project on the mountains

Affectionately nicknamed ‘Baan Matao’ (or ‘Watermelon House’) by locals in the area, this bubble house project is a place where volunteers and guests can meet, learn, relax, exchange travel stories and explore new ideas together.

“I want other people to come here and use the full potential of the place. We would also like this place to be open for ideas, all types of ideas: maybe someone wants to do a yoga class here, or meditation, or whatever types of workshops. There are many things that I’ve probably never thought about, and hopefully we will find out what we can do here,” hosts Kiki and Marco explain about their project. 

Originally both avid travellers from Germany, Kiki and Marco fell in love with the amazing waterfalls, the lush hills, the nearby villages and its friendly locals in the area. They decided to call northern Thailand their home and started settling there.
Since becoming Workaway hosts in 2015, their empty plot of land has slowly grown into a vibrant art space and eco-retreat for travellers. Apart from various creative workshops and cultural exchanges that take place simultaneously, they are also currently in the process of setting up a permaculture garden.

workawayer traveller posing with group of local children at the eco retreat

Initially, what was meant to be a safe space for them to explore an alternative lifestyle has been turned into something so much more. Their bubble house project is now a second home where locals and travellers can connect, exchange knowledge, as well as a community that helps support the local village. As the locals and travellers started coming together to build this eco-retreat, the community that was created along with it is a real testimonial of how their vision has eventually come true…

“It is an amazing project located (in my opinion) in one of the most beautiful areas in Thailand. We helped mainly with construction, stonework, and cooking, with lots of adventures to beautiful nearby waterfalls and swimming spots. We also got to work alongside and get to know some of the villagers, who are incredible, strong people. The project attracts a wide range of nationalities and personalities, and I am so grateful that we got to be a part of it.”

Workawayer Alex from USA

“This is one of the most amazing and interesting projects we visited! Marko and Kiki are interesting and extraordinary people. The atmosphere has always been fun and easy. [...] All the volunteers we met here came here not for the first time and this is already an indicator of good conditions, I think that we will return too!"

Workawayer Nicolas from Russia
workawayer painting shapes on top of a dome house

Surrounded by nature, workawayers spend their days hiking, exploring waterfalls and jungles, hanging out at local hilltribe villages, visiting nearby elephant camps, and enjoying host Kiki’s delicious home-cooked meals. Depending on their skills and interests, they can help with the construction of the bubble houses, painting and making mosaics, gardening, or just keeping the place tidy and happy.

When we’ve poured our effort into creating something real with our travel tribe, we are also learning new things and connecting with people who share the same vision as us. So many workawayers have returned to the project again and again after volunteering there, making this a truly special place where travellers all over the world can come, contribute and call home. And at the end of the day, isn’t that exactly why we travel and volunteer the way we do? 

Related blog post: How you'll never travel the same way again after Workaway

three workawayers smiling and preparing for a mosaic wall

It’s nice to leave a bit of my heart in the hills of Thailand somewhere,” says workawayer Ed from the UK, who is here helping to build the domes along with other volunteers. “I like the idea that I can come back here in ten years and it’s going to look amazing." 


Watch our video with hosts Marco and Kiki here:

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