MAE HONG SON is nestled in a deep valley hemmed in by high mountain ranges, Mae Hong Son has long been isolated from the outside world. Virtually covered with mist throughout the year, the name refers to the fact that is terrain is highly suitable for the training of elephants.
Former governors of Chiang Mai used to organise the rounding up of wild elephants which were then trained before being sent to the capital for work. Today, Mae Hong Son is one of the “dream destination” for visitors. Daily flights into its small airport bring growing numbers of tourists, attracted by the spectacular scenery, numerous hilltribe communities and soft adventure opportunities.
THAI YAI CULTURE
The Thai Yai can be seen along the northern border with Myanmar. They may at one time have been the most numerous of the ethnic Thai tribes that stretch across Southeast Asia. A large group settled in Mae Hong Son.
The Thai Yai culture has had a strong influence on the province, as can be seen in its architecture. Although a part of the Lanna region, the indigenous Thai Yai people living in Mae Hong Son are faced with very cold weather during winter and extremely hot weather in the summer, with mist or fog practically throughout the whole year. Not surprisingly they have had to adapt to the environment.
As a result, their architectural style has developed into something different from other Lanna communities. Their living quarters are usually built with tall floors and low roofs, the sizes differing according to one’s social status and position. Homes of the ordinary folks are usually with one single level of roof, while those of the local aristocrats have two or more levels forming a castle-like shape. The space thus provided is believed to help air circulation. An interesting feature of the Thai Yai style is the perforated designs along the eaves which are an architectural identity of the area.
How To Get To Maehongson
Travel from Bangkok
Mae Hong Son is located 924 kilometres from Bangkok. Drive from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and then choose the following routes to Mae Hong Son:
Chiang Mai – Hot – Mae Sariang – Khun Yuam – Mae Hong Son (Route 108) with 1864 curves, a distance of 349 kilometres.
Chiang Mai – Mae Malai – Pai – Mae Hong Son (Route 1095), a distance of 245 kilometres.
Mueang Nuea Yan Yon Tour (Tel: (0 2936 3587-8) operates an air-conditioned bus which runs directly from Bangkok to Mae Hong Son every day. The bus departs from Chatuchak (Mochit 2) Bus Terminal at 6 p.m. The trip takes about 17 hours.
One can travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by rail and then continue to Mae Hong Son by bus. For more information, call 1699, 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020 or visit www.railway.co.th
Thai Airways flies Bangkok-Chiang Mai-Mae Hong Son daily. Reservation should be made in advance at Tel: 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000 or call 1566 or visit www.thaiairways.com for current schedule.
Travel from Chiang Mai
Mae Hong Son can be reached from Chiang Mai either by Highway No. 108 via Hot, Mae Sariang, or Highway No. 1095 via Pai.
Chiang Mai-Mae Hong Son buses operated by Prem Pracha Transport (Tel: 0 5324 4737, 0 5324 2767) departing from Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Terminal every day. The buses which run along Highway No.108 leave Chiang Mai frequently from 6.30 a.m. – 9 p.m. The journey takes 8 hours. The buses which run along Highway No. 1095 leave Chiang Mai from 7 a.m.-12.30 p.m. The journey takes 6 hours.
There are 4 daily flights from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son. Tourists are advised to book tickets at least 2 days before departure. Contact Thai Airways Tel: 0 5321 0043-5, 0 5321 1044-7 (Chiang Mai), or 0 5361 1297, 0 5361 1194 (Mae Hong Son).
Distances from Mae Hong Son town (Amphoe Mueang) to the other districts:
At Maehongson's morning market there is a colorful choice of fruits and vegetables for sale, and many different kinds of people both selling and buying. The market is located on Phanitwattana Road and begins at dawn every morning. Here you can touch the lives of the local people who have every kind of local produce for sale, including Shan food and a delicious selection of sweets
It is situated on Kunlumprapat road. Prayasighanatracha is the first ruler of Maehongson. The local villagers had praised as a prince in familia with the cultural pattern of Chan State of Burma. During Phayasinghanatracha period Maehongson had developed rapidly and in 1885 the most city wall was buit.
At present there was traces of a water channel that can be partly recognised.There was also a local market called "Pok Kad Kaew" which is situated near Mouy Tor temple junction.This had indicated that commerce and trading had played an important role in every day's lift of Maehongson people.
Phrathat Doi Gongmoo Temple
The hilltop temple affords a wonderful view of the city and surrounding mountains and valley, constructed by Phaya Singhanatrach, the first king fo Mea Hong Son, built high up on the mountainside on the west side of the town.There are some interesting examples of religious architecture, such as the two Mon style cement chedis that stand out dramatically. All around the temple are magnificent views that offer a panoramic perspective of the town and surrounding countryside. There is a 1.6 kms long asphalt road from the town up to the temple.
Jong Kham and Jong Klang Temples
Jong Kham and Jong Klang temples are situated on Jong Kham Lake and are oldest temples in Maehongson. There are interesting examples of ancient art inside, such as the collection of Burmese style wooden carved dolls, the Burmese style glass paintings and the Mon style cement chedis. Many visitors take photographs of the temple and the lake.
Hua Wieng Temple
The Buddha statue in Hua Wieng temple was brought from Burma and is designed in the Mandalay style. It is a fine example of Burmese art and is held to be the most important Buddha statue in Maehongson
Another name of this temple is Dok Bun Nag temple which is shady and pleasant having ancient in the ancient local dialect informing the history fo thai Yai People.Kam koh temple is also situated at the foot of Gong Moo Mountain, across from Phra Non temple and has beautifully decorated galvanized iron roofs.
Phra Non Temple
Phra Non temple is located at the base of Gongmoo Mountain and houses a large Buddha statue contains a huge Burmese – style Reclining Buddha image, 12 meters long. The temple also houses ashes of former Mea Hong Son rulers. Two massive stone lions guard the temple staircase. There is a museum of ancient tools, and the main hall has a roof decorated in the Shan style with galvanized iron. Many tourists come to visit this temple.
Place of interesting in northern way
Fish cave forest park or Thumpla
The Fish Cave is located near the village of Huay Pha, about 17 kms from Maehongson (Highway 1095), at the foot of the mountains. At the mouth of the cave natural springs from beneath the mountain create a pool in which many large fish live. There are many different kinds of trees and plants around the cave in the area of the national park and a small river with such clear water that you can see the sand at the bottom. The cool air and natural setting make it a perfect place to discover the wonders of nature, such as the tiny snails and the wide variety of ferns.
Pluklon Country Club
Pluklon Country Club is at Moo 2, Ban Mae Sa Nga. It is 15 kilometers from town, on the way to the North then turn left to Kungmaisak. You can see Pluklon Country Club on the right. You shold try skin treatment (face or body) using mud from natural spa which is rich in mineral. Riding horse for sightseeing
Ruam Thai Village
Ruam Thai Village is away from Mae Hong Son about 44 kilometers Go on the way to Phaseur waterfall, Pangtong Royal Resident and Ban Na Papaeg then turn left go straight about 6 kilometers. You'll see variety of Hill tribes people ways of life. Try fresh coffee from the field. There are lots of two and tree leaves ever green trees around the lake. It's a wonderful sightseeing. There are also the place for camping (Set the tent) and accomodation to stay.
Pha sua waterfall
Pha Sua waterfall is located in Jum Bae district, 26 kms from Maehongson, along the road to Pai. This waterfall flows from the Mae Sa-nga River in Burma. There are six levels, called Mae Sa-nga waterfall, Pha Yao waterfall, Pha Lad waterfall, Pha Sua waterfall, Pha Dang waterfall and Pha Hom waterfall. Pha Sua waterfall has interesting rock formations, and water flows all year round making it a perfect place to visit.
Baan Rak Thai
A village of Chinese National Soldiers who fled to and settled in Mae Hong Son for many years ago
Pha Bong Hot Springs
12 kms south of Maehongson you can find Pha Bong hot springs, located in a national park area with lots of local food for sale. There are baths for those who want to soak in the water and benefit from all the natural minerals.
Place of interesting in southern way
Ban Nam Phiang Din
Ban Nam Phiang Din is in Tambon Pha Bong of 1 hour long motorboat trip along Pai River Ban Huai Dua, a scenic route with marvellous terraced cataracts.
Phabong Hot Spring
Phabong Hot Spring is in Phabong village not far from town, on the way to the South about 10 kilometers. This way leads to Khunyuam on the route No. 108. Phabong Hot Spring is on the right, the area is about 6,000 square meters. It is the hot spring with sulphate, the temperature isn't to high just only for boiling egg. Tourists can take a shower. The single room rate is 40 Baht/an hour, united room is 20 Baht/an hour.
Place of interesting in Pang Ma Pha
Lod Forest Park or Lod Cave some 60 kilometers from Mae Hong Son town, a road to the left runs further 8 kilometers. It is place where antiques and prehistoric remains were foung. This huge cave is beauitflly decorated with colourful stalagmites and stalactites.The tourist visiting hours is from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily .It took about 1-2 hours to cover the cave.
Mae La Na Cave
It is situated at Ban Mae la na ,83 kilomerters from Maehongson.It have the archway water It's the longest cave of Thailand ,12 kilomerters.It takes 15 hours up to get to this cave on foot with out rest.In this cave it have waterfall ,pearl cave and a lot of beautiful sprout.stones.
Zu Za Cave
Located in Ban nam kad ,43 kilomerters from Maehongson. The entrance of this cave have Zu Za waterfall and the hightest cliff behind it.
Tham nam lang
Can only travel on the dry season and so hard to walk along this cave.There are a stone pillar that hight as 10 floors buiding .You will discover Wang Mek Ka Lha cave ,it have a lot of water in Flow Stone style ,1 kilometers from entrance.Some journey must take rubber rafe and clamber tools.
Tham Bor Phi
Tham Bor Phi is another interesting cave for tourists to stop-by it takes 40 miniutes to the Luke Khoa Lamm hill.
Place of interesting in Pai
Mae Yen Waterfall
At the source of the Mae Yen River, Mae Yen Waterfall is about 12 kms from the town, located deep in the forest along a trail where there are no villages. The walk is beautiful and the waterfall is impressive. As the trail is so small, you cannot take any vehicles up to the falls. It’s best to ask for directions from local people before you set off and to make sure you take plenty of water and some food as this trek will take you the whole day.
Tha Pai Hot Springs
Tha Pai Hot Springs are part of a national park just 8 kms south of Pai. There is a stream running through the hot springs and you can choose either to bath in the river or in bathtubs that have been built on the site. You can get to the springs by foot, bicycle, motorbike or car.
Muang Pang Hot Spring
It is a large natural hot spring with a temperature of 95 degree celcius and still instantly dashing.
Nam Hu Temple
About 3 kilometers from Pia Market contain a sacred Chaing Saen Budddha image, 24 inches wide at the base and 30 inches inches high. The image’s topknot can be opened and contained holy water, revered by local folk.
Mae Yen Temple
Mae Yen temple is located halfway up a mountain and once you have climbed the 350 steps to get there the views over the valley are tremendous, covering a radius of around 10kms. There is an interesting old chedi at the temple and also murals that were painted by a local artist about the previous lives of the Buddha.
Mo Paeng Waterfall
From the town center you can walk up to Mo Paeng Waterfall, passing through two Shan, one Lesu, one Haw Chinese and one Lahu village. The walk is 8 kms long and takes about 2 hours each way. You can also go either by bicycle, motorbike or car. Once at the falls, you can swim in one of the three pools.
Mae Ping Karen Village
It is located in Mu 4, Tambon Mae Hi. The Karens here have their own alphabets and are highly civized.
Place of interesting in Khun Yuam
Wild-Sunflower Field,Doi Mae U-Khaw
It is located in Mae Suruin, Tambon Mae Yuam Nio, covers an area of 1,000 rais of Wild- Sunflower, all are in full bloom during November which make the hills and surrounding areas look plated with gold.
Muay Tho Temple
This temple is located next to Phra Non temple. Behind the temple there are steps leading up to Phrathat Doi Gongmoo
Tor Phae Temple
Tor Phae temple is located 7 kms. from Khun Yuam Market having a large beauiful Burmese style Vihara. According to the legend, it is said that raft assembling people used to gather up in this Area prior to making a teak trees raft trip to the marketing places. They, then, combined their efforts to build the Wat and called Wat Tor Phae…’Raft Assembling Monastet’
Khun Yuam Cultural Center
Khun Yuam Cultural Center is Located in Khun Yuam District opposite Wat Muai Tor. It houses a world Wat 11 Japanese Military Museum with a display of wartime artifacts and personal possesions. Khun Yuam Cultural Centre is opened for the pubic daily from 08.30 am. To 4.30 pm. The admission is free.
Place of interesting in Sob moei
Mae Ngoa National Park
15 kilometers from center near Tak province.With the huge hill topography. There are interesting hill such as Doi Pui loung , Doi Ser Ter Lu and Doi Kui Loung. Many tourists love to champing along the waterside.
Mae Sam Laep Village
Mae Sam Laep is village on Salawin River, located in Tamboon Mae Sam Laep, some 62 kilometers from Amphoe Sop Moei on the Hihway 1085. It is a renowned attraction among visitors for its arftion along the Salawin River. The village is situated within a deep valley facing Myanmar with white sandy beach on some pacing Myanmar with white sandy some part of the back. Two stretches of the river which is mostly rafted between Mas Sam Laep and Sop Moei, the point at which Moei River meet Salawin River, and from Mae Sam Laep visitors can go to Ampohe Tha Song Yang of Tak Province.
Place of interesting in Mae Sariang
Wild-Sunflower Field,Doi Mae Hor
Doi Mae Hor is 16 kilometres from Mae Sariang on route 106 kilometre stone No. 84 The area blooms with sceinic sunflowers in November-December.
Sa La Win National Park
During winter season you will see the beauty nature charms ,a finely white sand beach alternate a big stone with cover by fog.Most forest change color from green to red leaves and clarity river in summer .In rainy season ,it's have hard stream water.So,the tourists should to be informed an officer of Sa la Win national Park before camping for your security.
Saen Thong Temple
Saen Thong temple has an old and beautiful bronze image of the Buddha, subduing Mara of chiang Saen period. Phra Buddha Si Hing, known as Phra Phet or Phra Sing Nung, is another image of Bhddha to whicth the people have paid respect since older days.
In the other name "Wat Chong Sung" built in Burmese artstic style having two white pagodas of Mon style architecture and one Burmese style Vihara which is very beauiful.
Sriboon Rung Temple
"Jong Mark Keang" is the old name cause have a big tamarind tree on the west side of the hermitage. Buit by Tu Sri Vichai since 1907, Thai yai temple style with openwork of zinc and decorate picture of Wet son don story inside which drawing by the burmess artisan.
Phatat Jom Mon
It is one of four temple which situated in each corner city :Jom Jeang , Jom Thong ,Jom Kitti and Jom Mon.On the top hill in the northeast of Maesariang many people were embraced with a sceneic Maesariang city view ,peaceful , quiet and pleasent atmoshere.
Place of interesting in Mae Lanoi
Kaew Komol Cave in Mae Hong Son has reopened after a three-month closure. The cave has spectacular natural calcite crystals.
The formations come in all shapes imaginable ranging from snow flakes and mushrooms to vegetables. The cave is fitted with lighting. It has a walkway leading to five chambers that visitors can explore. The cave is part of Khao Doi Tham, five kilometres off Highway 108 that connects Mae La Noi district.
Lawa village in Tambon Huai Nom is situated in the area where three districts meet : Mae Chaem,Mae La Noi and Mae Sariang of Mae Hong son Province. The culture, architecture,costumes and chare of the hilltribes here are different from other hilltribes in Thailand. The attaction of this village is its hilltop location with beauiful view. Visitors can easily go to the village for about 32 kiometers form the district.
Huay hom ,Karen village
It is located in Mae la noi district ,4 kilomerters from Ban la ob.Habitants so smilingly and strict in religious.This village is the pattern Karen village , they can made coat from wool and glow the winter fruit and vetgetable.
Mae sa-kua, Karen village
It is located at Tambon Thapaha Phum is about 13 Kms. from the district . Houses here are remarkbaly built along the slopes of the mountains. During dry season, it has beautiful scenery when wild flowers and foliage turn to orange.
Near the village are waterfalls good for relaxation. The villagers still in traditional ways.
Dao Wa Deung Waterfall
It is a one beautiful waterfall is located in Ban Tung Roung Thong ,6 kilometers from Mae Lanoi District.In the rainy season is the best time to touch it.
Mae Hue Cave
It is situated at Ban Pa Mark ,Mae Lanoi District , 7 kilometers from Mae Lanoi. This cave deep 15 meters with wonderful environment inside.
Festivals & Events
Now a day,tourists have more comfortable trip to Maehongson than a past. Traditional is never changed follow the time such as house in Thai Yai style , mens ware china trousers with a clothfiting shirt with tight long sleeves in china style , women ware long skirt with Thai Yai blouse.Various festivals be attract many tourists come to Maehongson. It is something not to be missed.
Poi Sang long Procression
This is in fact the celebartiion of novice ordination ceremony of Thai Yai people regarded as a highly meritoues occasion. Traditionally, the candi-date-novice, his head is cleanly and wrapped with head-cloth in the Burmese style,will don a prince-like garement and put on valuable ornaments, and ride a horse or be carried over the shouldr of a man to the shirne. Then he will visit abbots of various Wat to beg for forgiveness. On the ordination eve, a proces-sion of offerings will be paraded through the where the ordination takes place the following day. It is usually held during March-April. Today this colourful procession has become a major tourist attaction in Mae Hong Song.
Bua Toung Blossom Fastival
Each year in November, the hillsdes of Amphoe Khunyuam and Ampoe Mae Sariang are fill with golden colour of Bua tong blooms. As gay as a daisy and almost as large as sunflower,the Bua Toung only blossoms for Mae Hong Son province to hold the Bua Toung Blossm Festival at Amphoe Khun Yuam every year from 1 November until 15 December. At Amphoe Khun Yuam’s Doi Mae U-kho,the blssom appear profusely. Finally, the golden blssom become prat of the scene. Some speciliste have discovered the flower’s insect-repellent properties. Bua Tong a symbol of Mae hong son, is still preserved on the hillsides.
Chong Para Procression
In October (duan sipet) the festival of Hen Som Go Ja is held, which consists of making offerings to relatives who have already passed away. There are also celebrations to mark the end of the Lent season, or Chong Para. During the evening the people make processions carrying hand made castle like structures (to welcome the Buddha back from heaven where he went during the Lent season to visit his mother) to the temples, or else place them outside their homes to bring merit to their families. During these ceremonies there is music and dancing. Mostly the dancing is done by dancers dressed up as mythological creatures, such as the mythological half bird-half human ginaree and the mythological yak, which is held by two dancers, rather like a pantomime horse.
The Chong Para in the Thai Yai dialect means a castle made of wood, covered with colorful perforated papers and decorated with fruits, flags and lamps. It is placed in the courtyard of a house or a monastery as a gesture to welcome the Lord Buddha on his return from giving sermons to his mother in heaven, according to traditional belief. The rite is held during the postkain Retreat season from the full-moon day of the 11the Lunar month to the waxing-moon night of the same month. Other activities to celebrate the occasion include dances where performers are dressed in animal costumes. This is based on the belief that during those long-gone days, both humans and the animal kingdom were equally joyful of the return of the Lord Buddha and therefore joined in a jubilant performance as tribute of the Enlightened One.
Loi Krathong Festival
Loi Krathong Festival is held on the full moon night in the month of November every year. Villagers make 'Krathongs' to float in rivers. At Nong Chong Kham, various entertainments and a contest of large krathongs are held near the central pond. Lamps and candles are lit all around the area. At Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, there is a ceremony to release candle-lit krathongs bound to balloons (known as 'Loi Krathong Swan') to the evening sky.
The tea test festival of Rak Tai village Each year in february at Rak Tai village, there is a celebration of The tea test festival to support the agricultural and tourism of their village. During their celebration you can enjoy a horse's riding trip around village plus an opportunity to tase hight quality of tea and shows from U-nan china and Tai traditional 's plays.
There is a various kind of souvenirs in Maehongson, some of them is from local , some came from Burmese and some came from Chiangmai.The favourite are
Souvenirs from Burmese such as woodcarvings, silverware, precious stones, pictures, Burmese puppets etc.
Silverware such as ornamentally, salver , rings,silvercarvings etc. most of silverware is come from Chiamgmai.
Thai Yai costume It'is the local souvenirs of Maehongson such as the trousers in Thai Yai Sytle and the headgear from bamboo.
The hilltribe 's manufacture For people who love in handicraft ,you will find different hill tribe people sell their handmade products such as the textile , Karean Shirt , embroidery work on a hoop etc.