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Mae Hong Son is located in the Shan Hills, and borders Burma along the banks of the river Pai. The province has the most numbers of mountains in Thailand and it is covered with mist throughout the year, the name Mae Hong Son literally means "The City of Three Mists." Due to its geographic location, the province has a rich influence from Burma, reflecting from its historic architecture and many traditions still carry on today.
Mae Hong Son attracts a large number of visitors each year, thanks largely due to the popularity of the village ‘Pai’ and its spectacular natural attractions like Pang Ung, Tham Lod, and ‘Sea of Fog” sunrise viewpoint.
The best way to get to Mae Hong Son from Bangkok is by bus. You can catch an overnight bus from the Mo Chit Bus Terminal, and some rest along the way, before arriving in town the next morning. You could also catch a train to save money, but lose time and convenience, or go in style by plane from Bangkok via a connecting flight in Chiang Mai.
Downtown Mae Hong Son is relatively small so you can walk around or rent a bike. Tuk-tuks and motorbikes are also available for hire. There are also public buses which you can take to different districts in Mae Hong Son.
This hilltop monastery is a significant temple of Mae Hong Son, the temple resembles a strong influence from Burmese architecture, the highlights being the two immaculate grand whitewashed pagodas. Besides being a sacred temple for the locals to visit for religious rituals, the temple is the no.1 recommended place for a 360 degrees view of Mae Hong Son, particularly during sunset. You can pilgrim up to the temple using the 300+ steps of stairs, with each step the view gradually gets better! There is also a small charismatic coffee shop, located on the other side of the temple ground, where you can chillax with a cup of coffee and enjoy the amazing view of the valleys below.
Pang Ung is often referred to as ‘the Switzerland of Thailand’ due to a spectacular mirror surface of a gorgeous lake and the tranquility of its surroundings. During early morning time, you will see foggy clouds that act like a staging curtain that gradually opens up to the stunning scenery of Pang Ung. The supporting stars are the swans floating elegantly on the reflective lake. Visitors can enjoy the lake up close and personal by chilling on a bamboo raft.
There is a camping ground and bungalow accommodation near the reservoir, have a peaceful night star-gazing and get ready to wake up to an unforgettable sunrise. In January only, the special highlight are blooming cherry blossom trees which are rare to be seen.
This remote Chinese village up high in the mountains bordering Burma will be a surprisingly memorable visit, nothing like anywhere else you will see in Thailand. The humble Chinese-style mud houses are located around an impressive lake, surrounded by mountains with floating-cloud like fog. The village offers a popular lunch spot where visitors can enjoy a deliciously unique Yunnan feast, like stewed pork leg with Chinese bun, fresh tea leaves salad, fried fish, and stir-fried local vegetable. Good buys here are a variety of tea leaves and dried fruits. Rakthai also offers resorts if you would like to enjoy this distinctive paradise a little more. Travel coordination should be organized prior to the visit as there are no transportation available from the village.
Tham Lod is a limestone cave renowned for its natural beauty with a river flowing through the cave, the interior features fascinating stalactites and stalagmites. One of the main caves feature strange rock formations which look like dolls all around the cave ground, with black and red historic drawings which dates back to 2,000-3,000 years. Another pre-historic cave is filled with artifacts like potteries, tools, skeletons and the highlight being teakwood coffins, thought to have been carved by the Lawa tribespeople thousands of years ago. To make the visit even more extraordinary is to enter the cave opening through the river by a bamboo raft.
As the name of the park suggests, the attraction is known for the beautiful Mae Surin Waterfall. The spectacular fall is 100 meters in height with a flowing water all year round and is the source of many rivers in Northern Thailand. There are 2 ways you can enjoy the fall, one is a view point located on a hill afar but you can hear the surround sound of the fall crashing on the surface below, the other is a challenging trek route which will require a guide to take you through the jungle see the actual fall up close and personal.
Wat Chong Kham is characteristic with a 9-tier roof, built approximately 200 years ago by the Shan (Thai Yai) people, and is considered the first temple in Mae Hong Son. The temple features enchanting antique glass paintings done by Burmese artisan, a truly unique grand Buddha weaved and structured using rattan, and a small museum displaying a variety of wood carving dolls.
The highlight of this temple is at night, when the temple lights up in all its glory with its stunning reflection displaying on the lake. Around the lake located a night market with food stalls, where visitors can have a picnic while enjoying the view of the lake and the temple to complete a picture-perfect night.
The temple is a beautiful Burmese-style architecture with an impressive elaborate tiered wooden roof, built in the second half of the 19th century. The temple houses the sacred "Phra Chao Phala Lakhaeng" Buddha where Buddhists come to pray for prosperity, wealth and good health. The celebrated bronze Buddha appears to have an aura-like-effect on the face, this is because real gold was mixed in the making of the facial part of the statue.
Wat Hua Wieng is located near the morning market, and is within walking distance from hotels in downtown Mae Hong Son. Due to its central location, the temple ground is used to host many of Thai Yai (Shan) traditional events all year round.
If you would like to see tribal people’s simple way of living, albeit the touristy set-up stalls of weaved fabrics and crafts for sale, this once in a lifetime experience will be worth a visit. The highlight here is of course the longneck Karen ladies and the photo opportunity with them (and support their merchandise of course.) Note that Karen women are not born with longer neck, women start wearing neck rings from the age of 5 and add a ring yearly until the age of 25. Similar to other tribal villages, the fee to enter the Karen village is quite steep. It is recommended to visit the Karen village as part of a day tour, rather than making it the main itinerary of the day.
Like most of Thailand, hot and dry from February to May, wet weather and slightly cooler temperatures until October. However, from November through January, for Northern provinces the weather is dry with comfortable temperatures during the day but can get quite cold at night.