Mae Hong Son Travel Guide
The provincial capital of Thailand’s far northwest, Mae Hong Son makes an interesting destination if you want to see the wild western frontier along the border with Burma.
Mae Hong Son is the only thing close to a city in this region, and it’s a long way from Chiang Mai. Surrounded by scenic mountains with the iconic Jong Kham Lake at its heart, the town makes the perfect base for exploring the wealth of cultural and recreational activities in the region.
Within the city are several fascinating Buddhist temples in the Burmese Shan style. Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu sits atop a hill at the edge of town offering stunning views over the valley. Wat Jong Kham and Wat Jong Klang are also excellent examples of Burmese Buddhist temples.
Outside of the city, there are endless trekking options to visit both natural attractions as well as myriad ethnic hill tribe groups. Although they may appear exploited, the amazing Padaung ‘long-necked’ people are truly fascinating to witness.
Rafting along the Pai River is another popular excursion in the warmer months, but the town itself is wonderfully compact and ideal for just wandering around and observing the daily life of this extremely remote part of Thailand.
There are several travel companies in Mae Hong Son that can arrange any kind of trip you desire. These are convenient, but most excursions can be managed just as easily by yourself if you rent a scooter or car in town. Having your own ride will make exploring the many sights around Mae Hong Son infinitely easier.
Getting There & Away
Mae Hong Son has a small airport that handles daily flights from Chiang Mai when the weather is agreeable. Public buses also ply the long and winding road from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son, as do private tour minibuses from Chiang Mai. Another great option is to rent your own car or bike and leisurely drive the amazing road through the mountains.
Things to Do
Mae Hong Son Attractions
- Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu
This is the best of the city’s buddhist temples, primarily for the incredible views over the valley.
- Padaung ethnic group
Also known as the “long-necked” people, this hilltribe group is as exotic as it comes, though they definitely been exploited over the past years.
- Jong Kham Lake
Spend an evening at one of the rustic drinking and eating venues along the lake’s edge and unwind with the locals.
- Pha Bong
These extensive hot springs have been developed just enough to allow you to soak your bones with ease.