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Mae Sariang

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A relatively small town, Mae Sariang sits in the southern reaches of Mae Hong Son province at the junction of Routes 105 and 108 -- if you're doing the Mae Hong Son loop by motorbike (or some other means), Mae Sariang is about as far south as you get.

Regardless of its location at a traveller's crossroads, Mae Sariang remains a very sleepy untouristed affair. It sits on the eastern bank of the Yuam River and does more business as a small trading outpost than as a trekking centre (despite the desires of some resident entrepreneurs who dream of it as being Thailand's next Chiang Mai).

The trading part of Mae Sariang's enterprise comes partly due to nearby Mae Saem Laep -- a speck of a village clinging onto the east bank of the Salween River -- and facing Burma. There is a sizeable smuggling trade through Mae Sam Laep, and onwards through Mae Sariang.

Smuggling aside, Mae Sariang has a fair degree of charm in its own right -- there's lots of wooden buildings, a handful of Burmese-influenced wats, an interesting market, and, well a great glimpse of untouristed Thailand.

It's true Mae Sariang has considerable trekking potential -- its surrounds are dotted with mostly Karen villages and the village's often mountainous settings are stunning. However, this potential is tempered by the relatively high cost of tours and the small number of tourists coming here to trek.

If you don't mind paying an excess in order to get going, then Mae Sariang is a great spot, but if you're travelling solo and hoping to just show up, sign up for a cheap trek and get walking, then Pai or Mae Hong Son would be better bases to work from.

There's more to do than trekking. Head out to Mae Sam Laep and do a rafting trip on the river and pick up some cheap Burmese prayer beads while you're at it, hang out on your guesthouse veranda watching the river slide by, or just hire a motorbike and scoot around for a few days -- the locale is beautiful.

Text and/or map last updated on 21st September, 2009.

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Sleepy River Town with a Heart of Gold
By KhowNeow11, 15 September 2011
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