Mae Hong Son is a stop in the famous Mae Hong Son loop that starts and ends in Chiang Mai. While most people spend time in Pai, Mae Hong Son deserves a little more attention given how much it has to offer. Here are some things you can do in Mae Hong Son if you are planning to do the loop or spend time in neighbouring Pai:
1. Visit Wat Phrathat Doi Kongmu
Wat Phra Thai Doi Kong Mu is a temple on top of the mountain that overlooks Mae Hong Son. This is an extremely scenic spot, especially during sunrise and sunset. At sunrise, you will see the fog shrouding the mountains slowly clear up to reveal the town of Mae Hong Son. At sunset, the mountain range that envelopes Mae Hong Son will be painted with a beautiful golden hue. The walk up is steep, but the views are totally worth the effort.
2. Walk the Su Tong Pae bamboo bridge
The story of the bamboo bridge is as interesting as the bridge itself. The villagers built this bamboo bridge to connect an isolated temple to the main road. At 900m long, the bridge spans across many plots of rice fields and is used by the monks to collect supplies. During the rainy season, the floods may destroy large sections of the bridge. However, the villagers always ensure it comes back to life. This is the kind of dedication the villagers have for their religion!
3. Join the local crowd at Wat Pu Sama
At the end of the Su Tong Pae bamboo bridge is Wat Pu Sama. Climb up the steps to reach the temple and you will be rewarded with a beautiful vista of mountains, rice fields and the elegantly built bridge. The temple has many strange artifacts: a four-faced Buddha sculptured on a boulder and a row of wax monks meditating in the main prayer hall. Wat Pu Sama is a strange, but nonetheless an interesting temple to visit.
4. Camp at Pang Ung Reservoir
Also known as the “Switzerland of Thailand”, the Pang Ung Reservoir park resembles that of a beautiful alpine village. The park is entirely covered in pine trees. You will also find log cabins facing the reservoir and little rowboats docked at its banks. Stay a night in one of the cabins or pitch a tent by the reservoir. You will be waking up to the sounds of chirping birds and a picturesque view of the reservoir.
5. Have a Yunnan meal at Ban Rak Thai
Ban Rak Thai is a Yunnan village built around a large lake. The strong Chinese architecture bears no resemblance to any other Thai village. The history of the village is pretty amusing: the first villagers were supporters of the Kuomintang. To avoid persecution from the Communist army, they escaped through the mountains and ended up in Thailand. As you walk around the village, you may spot plaques and carvings that glorify the then-generals of the Kuomintang.
If you would like to eat something unique, there are various eateries in the village that serve up delicious Yunnanese food. You should also look out for the small noodle booths outside some homes. Nothing beats home-cooked noodle dishes!
6. Walk around the main lake area of Mae Hong Son
In the evening, the main lake area is transformed into a bustling night market. Grab a hot bowl of noodle soup to keep yourself warm or a street snack to chew on. If you are lucky, you may even find young Thais singing and playing the guitar. Come a little earlier and visit the two Burmese temples in the area. For the adventurous, one of them has an interesting room full of mummified dolls and human-sized figurines!
Mae Hong Son is a place where you can rest and relax. The climate is cool, the air is fresh and the town is much quieter than Pai or Chiang Mai. Do rent a motorcycle and spend some time exploring the outskirts. You will be surprised at how much you can discover in a day around Mae Hong Son!
Feeling like you now have to visit Mae Hong Son? Share these places with your friends using the icons below. Drop me a comment if you have any questions or if you have another thing to do in Mae Hong Son!