Best budget option in Mae Salong
Next to morning market, Mae Salong T: (053) 765 026, (087) 185 1978
When Shin Sane opened in 1970 no roads led to or from here and Mae Salong was still a KMT military base and not more than nominally part of Thailand.
Across the valley lay Khun Sa’s camp and the hills were covered in poppy fields. It must have been a wild place! This was in the heart of the real Golden Triangle, not the bunch of T-shirt vendors in a coach park it's become today. Of course, the guesthouse has had a few paint jobs over the years and they’ve added some concrete bungalows in the small yard out back, but you get the impression it probably hasn’t changed much otherwise, and the old wooden building certainly oozes atmosphere. It's an odd construction too, with part of the building forming a wooden bridge over the street that actually passes under, or through, the guesthouse itself. It’s even still cobbled and we’d swear on a misty evening you can make out an opium ladened, mule train passing through.
It is basic and these days it's motorbikes on their way to the (early) morning market that pass under your room but you do have the option of their bungalows, which are quiet and comfortable enough. Bungalows have attached bathrooms with hot showers, fans and small balconies though decoration is at a minimum. But who needs Lanna bedcovers and power showers when you’re staying in a historic monument? The rooms are very simple, with little more than a bed but they are clean and shared bathrooms all come with hot showers.
Though there are a couple of tables in front of what passes for a reception area, their cafe and main seating area is located across the cobbled street overlooking the main road. Food’s simple and cheap but it’s a fine spot to sit early morning with a coffee watching the locals on their way to and from market. If you’re in the rooms out front it is noisy so you’ll be up early anyway! A nice touch is free use of the guesthouse’s washing machine.
There is some information on the wall and their trekking map (free for guests, 10 baht for non-guests) is invaluable if you're planning on getting into the hinterland a little. They also have motorbikes for rent for 200 baht per day. It goes without saying that the owner has plenty of local information and good English is spoken too. They don’t make 'em like this anymore!
By Mark Ord
Last updated on 6th October, 2015.