Hot! Frankly the best thing about this place is the name, which vies with Fang for top of the unusual names of Chiang Mai province table. There’s a small market, convenience store, several noodle shops and a karaoke bar but that’s about it — though it does have one decent play to stay at.
There is a certain remote, middle-of-nowhere cachet to the place and locals, who see few foreigners in these parts, are friendly so you won’t have any drama if you are cycling and wish to stop, or are on a scooter but don’t want to head too far in a day. Hot is however definitely one of the few small towns in these parts that nobody has yet suggested might be the ‘new Pai’!
The town’s small, but busy and prosperous, lying in the wide, fertile valley created by the confluence of the Ping and Chaem rivers. To the west is an extensive range of hills rising to more than 1,500 metres, stretching all the way to Mae Sariang in the west and including the nearby Ob Luang National Park.
Separated from the border by these highlands, the town’s inhabitants are predominantly Northern Thai rather than Shan, though surrounding villages are still very largely Red Karen and you’ll see plenty of the group’s women shopping in town. Hot is neither picturesque nor gifted with tourist sights as such, so the interest lies in just discovering a typical Thai country town. Check out the local wat, see the sights at the local market and grab a coffee or noodles somewhere. Those locals are friendly!
Very convenient for insomniacs and vampires is the village farmers’ market, which runs from around 01:00 to 05:00. (Yes, it closes at 05:00 am – not a typo!) This sets up right next to the small bus station on the west side of Route 108 just south of the T-junction. It gets surprisingly lively, with valley farmers and Karen from the hills buying and selling fruit and veg until dawn threatens and they scurry off home. (When we asked the reason for the unusual hours we were told, ‘…because it’s not so hot’, which is a fair point but then why doesn’t every Thai market keep those times?)
As far as food goes, Honey at PP Resort will happily knock you up some decent, inexpensive Thai food if you give her a bit of a warning, otherwise you’ll have to wander up and down the main street and see which noodle and rice shops are open. A few are grouped together at the left corner of the road leading off towards Mae Sariang, while a bit further along on the right is the town’s main night spot: a tiny, somewhat dingy karaoke bar.
Another good spot for simple rice, noodle soup and fried noodle dishes is the restaurant attached to what passes for the town’s bus station. (Set just off the road behind the night market slightly to the south of the T-junction.) Most of the town’s cafes will open early (07:00 or 08:00) and close early (19:00 or 20:00) so your best bet for late night grub is the bus station cafe, since they tend to stay open for the all-night vegetable market trade.
Hot is located at a T-junction formed by Routes 108 and 1012, which has created a kind of T-junction shaped town. The main commercial centre — banks, market, petrol station and shops — are astride Chom Thong Road while cafes and additional local stores line the start of the Mae Sariang route.
Residential areas, a large wat, bus station and the town’s best guesthouse lie down the Wang Lung/Doi Tao road, which heads off to the south. The police station and post office are located on the Chom Thong Road to the north and south of the Shell garage respectively. The hospital is just south of town on Route 1012.
By Mark Ord. Last updated on 9th October, 2016.