Photo: Just stunning lake views.


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Remote Mae Hong Son, provincial capital of the eponymously named province, lies just a few kilometres from the Burmese border in Thailand’s far northwest.

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The small city or big town is barely much larger than Pai these days, thanks to the on-going tourism boom there, but Mae Hong Son certainly sees far fewer foreign visitors. You’ll notice several large governmental and municipal buildings on the outskirts and perhaps more traffic may zip along its slightly wider roads, yet Mae Hong Son has a decidedly more laidback feel to it than its busier neighbour up the road.

One of Thailand’s most beautiful provincial capitals. Photo taken in or around Mae Hong Son, Thailand by Mark Ord.

One of Thailand’s most beautiful provincial capitals. Photo: Mark Ord

Whether you go for bustle or laidback, we reckon Mae Hong Son has a more attractive setting than Pai in so far as its valley location is much narrower—with barely enough room for the town and its tiny airport—and is bordered by steep forested hills that crowd in from all directions. The lake is a highly picturesque feature in the centre of town and makes for a great spot to take an evening stroll, enjoy a picnic or down a sunset drink, while several attractive Shan-style temples, as well as old teak constructions, dot the lakeside, town and surrounding hills.

Unusually for a Thai provincial capital, there’s a total lack of high rise though an incongruous 4-lane ring road does mar the suburbs somewhat. (It’s apparently part of one of those pan-Asian highway schemes intended to eventually connect Bangkok and Chiang Mai directly with Delhi or somewhere or another.)

Do take a stroll by the lake. Photo taken in or around Mae Hong Son, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Do take a stroll by the lake. Photo: Mark Ord

The population of Mae Hong Son is still predominantly Shan, an ethnic group inhabiting the entire northwest corner of Thailand which abuts Burma’s Shan State just over the nearby border. A large number of northern Thais and Sino-Thais have also moved here to establish businesses in the urban area. Karen and even Lisu and Hmong are also regularly seen in ... Travelfish members only (Around 2,500 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Mae Hong Son.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Mae Hong Son.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Mae Hong Son.
 Read up on how to get to Mae Hong Son, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
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