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Mae Hong Son and Pai

Mae Hong Son is the hidden province of northwest Thailand blessed with natural beauty and home to many ethnic groups including the Shan, Karen and Padaung.

Jong Kham Lake is the heart center of the town reflecting the Shan temples of
Wat Jong Klang and Wat Jong Kham.
Pleasant strolls around the lake and town and some evenings a Night Market along the lake. A great little travelers Cafe is called Salween River located just up from the lake.

Mae Hong Son is very popular in cool season-  starting in November when Thais especially love to have a chance to wear thicker jackets.

Mid- November to December is the season to see the sunflowers blooming in the fields on Doi Mae U-Kho above Khun Yuam village–  approx 28km drive from Mae Hong Son town going towards Mae Sariang.

Visiting the Long-Neck Kayan:

The Kayan ladies known as the Long-Neck Karen have for years been a tourist curiosity. The Kayan are a sub-group of the ethnic Karenni of Kayah State of Myanmar.  Sadly these people along with the other ethnic minority groups have been escaping the civil conflicts and crossing the hills into Thailand for the last five decades.  There is much debate about how appropriate it is to visit these long-neck ladies as several camps feel like human zoos.  However, over the years much has evolved.  It is sad these people are not able to be in their own homeland but over the years their communities have settled into a safer village existence where they can at least earn livelihood through tourism. Many of a new generation have not known any other place to live besides these refugee villages in Thailand. They have never been into Burma.
Sadly there are places around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai where long-neck Karen are indeed brought as a business for tourist photo options and I would not support this.

But below is an excellent link with more background and about visiting the Kayan people along the border of Mae Hong Son area from the site:

Accomodations in Mae Hong Son:

Sang Tong Huts:
a long-time established place in harmony with nature. Simply from the Heart.
Can help with suggestions for local treks, local guide and driver.

Fern Resort:

located a few kms out of the center in a lovely setting.
Traditional style accomodations with air-conditioning which is appreciated in hot season.

Getting to Mae Hong Son:

The Mae Hong Son Loop is one of the most scenic drives in Thailand.
If you are sensitive to curves, take it slowly and enjoy the views.

Flights to Mae Hong Son from Chiang Mai-
approx 30 minutes
  PLEASE CHECK for UPDATES on any DIRECT FLIGHTS operatinhg post Covid

Driving from Chiang Mai north and then up into the hills westward via Pai  and Soppong/Pang Mapha cave area is the popular route for most visitors.  From Mae Hong Son town, the loop continues onward to Mae Sariang and down to Chiang Mai which allows the option to branch and visit Doi Inthanon– Thailand’s highest mountain.

The Salween River and Mae Sam Laep:  where Thailand meets Myanmar:

Read more about a side trip from Mae Sariang and learn more about a proposed Salween Peace Park:

Bus Transport from Chiang Mai:
A few local buses depart each day but they are quite old without air-con.
Mini buses depart almost every hour are more comfortable and making a rest stop along the way.

See Prempracha Transport from Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Station:


A Piece of Peace in Pai on the way:
This backpacker haven has also been developing more upscale Flashpackers in recent years. The surrounding area is gorgeous for a stopover, especially with lush green at the end of rainy season in October and before the busy peak time.

Pai is comfortably 3.5 hours from Chiang Mai and on the way into Pai town coming from Chiang Mai is a turn off to the PamBok waterfall and up into the rice fields where you can walk along the Merit Bridge made of bamboo created by locals so the monks could walk easier into the village.

wonderful to see the green fields in October before harvest time.

Accomodations in Pai Town:

Baan Tawan Guesthouse is a quiet sanctuary in town along the Pai River run by a Shan family:

A short walk to the walking street and market area with lots of local food.

Om Garden Cafe

Om Garden is a short walk away from Baan Tawan-
another special oasis created by the Heart serving wonderful healthy food:

Tham Lod Caves and Karen weavers…
set off the main road at Soppong Market between Pai and Mae Hong Son town to visit incredible caves and venture up to a Karen village.
Click below for story:

Wat Tham Wua Meditation Center is on the way from Pai to Mae Hong Son Town- beyond Soppong- about 70 km from Pai and 35km from Mae Hong Son town.
See more onRetreats Page.


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