Mae Hong Son – The jungle paradise in the north of Thailand
The journey to Mae Hong Son
The journey from Chiang Mai takes about five hours in a minivan, which has to make 1,864 bends to reach its destination. Alternatively, you could fly from Chiang Mai, but the journey has something to offer. There is also a bus to and from Bangkok: for about 30 euros you can get here and back from the Thai capital several times a day. So it is not that difficult at all! And you won’t regret it, even if you might have to take a pill or put anti-nausea plasters on your skin to get through the curves safely.
If you don’t want to take all the curves at once, you can make a stopover in the famous hippie village of Pai. This village is about halfway between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son City. You are already in the province of the same name and can enjoy the special flair of the village on the Night Market on the main street.
What is there to see in Mae Hong Son?
Mae Hong Son actually has something to offer for almost every taste. The only thing missing is the sea…
Lovers of nature will find themselves in a green thicket that occasionally offers views of breathtaking valleys, roaring waterfalls or expansive lakes. You love Thai culture? Then Mae Hong Son offers you numerous temples and monasteries where you can experience it first hand. And you can also relax here. Whether in a Hot Spring, a Mud Spa or with a typical Thai massage… Treat your body to something good!
Raise your hands if you’re a waterfall fan yourself! Then you’ve come to the right place in Mae Hong Son…
I visited the 10 meter high Pha Sua Waterfall, which can be reached very easily and quickly via footbridges. So you don’t have to go on a long hike to see it and take some pictures. It is about 45 minutes away from Mae Hong Son City and is located in the Tham Phla Namtok Pha Suea National Park, which also offers a lot more besides this waterfall.
Other waterfalls are the Huay Pong-on and Mae Sa-nga Klang or in the other direction, south of Mae Hong Son, Mae Surin Waterfall.
Afterwards I drove straight on to the water reservoir Pang Ung. This is a Royal Project, meaning a project that was brought to life by the royal family. These projects are meant to support the local population. Soon you can read more about this topic here.
The lake is a wonderful destination and it is best to bring a little time with you. Because here you can even stay overnight. There are camping sites if you want to fall asleep and wake up with a view of the lake, as well as guest houses. This is the perfect place to relax and just switch off.
A stray sunflower field
My probably biggest highlight was a small natural spectacle. Because once a year sunflowers bloom 80 kilometres south of Mae Hong Son and at the beginning of November they make the whole mountain shine in green and yellow for two weeks. The journey by scooter takes two whole hours, but it is worth it!
Ban Rak Thai – A Chinese village in Mae Hong Son
First, I can recommend the village of Ban Rak Thai. It is Chinese and not Thai, but it is part of the local history. It’s foundation goes back to the time when the Chinese soldiers of Kuomintang left communist China and went into exile. Even today, the majority here speaks Mandarin.
Here you can not only take beautiful pictures of the lake where Ban Rak Thai is located, but also dive into the world of tea cultivation and jade import, which are essential parts of the history of the region.
Buddhist temples in Mae Hong Son
Apart from that, Buddhism is of course an important part of the culture here as it is in the rest of Thailand. So you should not miss the temples and monasteries. Here my recommendations:
In the city of Mae Hong Son itself you can visit the two temples Wat Chon Klang and Wat Chong Kham, which are both situated directly at the lake Chonh Kham. Around the lake there is also the night market which I recommend you to visit at least one evening for a walk and dinner.
At least once you should experience the sunset over the roofs of the city – namely at Phrat That Doi Kong Mu Monastery. It is situated on a mountain, so you can enjoy the view and look at the monastery at the same time.
A little outside the city – about 15 minutes by scooter from Mae Hong Son – another temple is waiting: Wat Su Thong Pae is enthroned on a hill above a rice field and is connected by a 500 meter long bamboo bridge with the next village Kung May Sak. The temple is wonderful and offers many photo motives as well as the possibility to attach a wish written on a piece of wood to the temple. But the highlight for me is the bridge, which divides the idyllic valley seemingly in two parts.
Vipassana at Wat Pha Tam Wua Forest Monastery
And as the last cultural point I recommend the Wat Pha Tam Wua Forest Monastery. There I made a stay of several days for a Vipassana. Because meditation is just a part of Buddhism. So if you want to learn more about these topics, you should consider a stay in this monastery.
If you want to do something good for yourself and your body, I have two cool suggestions for you:
Mud Spa for the special spa experience
Have you ever been to a Mud Spa? Close to the Pha Sua waterfall there is a natural mud source, rich in minerals that are good for the skin and stimulate the circulation.
For about 1000 Baht you can get a mud treatment here. But there are also hot springs and the possibility to get a classic Thai massage or to relax at the pool with a beautiful view of the rice fields.
Hot Springs for a small purse
Alternatively you can drive to the Pha Bong Hot Springs. They are about 15 minutes south of Mae Hong Son and for only 20 Baht (a little more than 50 Cent) you can enjoy the warm pool. The main pool is really hot and bathing is forbidden here. You are allowed to put your feet in, but even that is almost torture. So I just went for the normal pool, which is really nice.
Tips for your stay in Mae Hong Son
Hotel in Mae Hong Son
I stayed overnight at the Tee Nont Guesthouse, which is run by a young, Thai couple who are incredibly friendly and make a big effort to run the guesthouse. For breakfast, for example, every morning a small bast bag is waiting outside your door, filled with local delicacies like dumplings and coconut rice in banana leaves.
The guesthouse is simple and you can’t expect luxury here, but it has a familial atmosphere and they offer a lot of help when you plan your day.
To book with Booking please follow this link: Tee Nont Guesthouse*
Here you can check for accommodation in the city in general: Hotels in Mae Hong Son*
Scooter in Mae Hong Son
At Tee Nont Guesthouse I was recommended KTY Motorbike. There you can get well maintained scooters for 250 Baht a day. You also have to leave a deposit of 1500 Baht. Personally, I prefer this to leaving my passport there, as it is regularly done especially in the south.
If you dare to ride a scooter or even have experience, this is definitely the best choice to explore the region on your own.
I enjoyed every minute in Mae Hong Son and in the end I was a little disappointed to have been there for only four days. I would have loved to stay at least twice as long – maybe even longer. The region is big and offers so much wonderful nature where you can get lost that I probably could have stayed here for a whole month. After all, it never gets boring here with the numerous possibilities for trips.
Have you ever been to Mae Hong Son or are you planning a trip there?
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