The small district town of Mae Sariang sits in a picturesque location on a largely undeveloped riverside, surrounded by forested hills and paddy-filled valleys. The town still possesses plenty of old teak buildings, a handful of Burmese/Shan-style wats, some fine accommodation choices and... well, it's just a great glimpse of traditional, small-town Thailand.
Mae Sariang sits in the southern reaches of Mae Hong Son province at the junction of Routes 105 and 108, the Mae Hong Son to Mae Sot and Mae Sariang to Chiang Mai highways. If you're doing the famous Mae Hong Son loop by motorbike (or some other means), Mae Sariang is about as far south as you get. While the loop is probably the reason most visitors do stop here, we reckon the town has enough to do, and sufficient charms, to warrant a couple of days in its own right.
For now, Mae Sariang remains a sleepy, untouristy backwater. It sits on the eastern bank of the Yuam river and does more business as a small trading centre and regional market town for the surrounding farmlands than as a trekking and tourism centre – despite the dreams of some resident entrepreneurs, who hope it will be Thailand's next Chiang Mai.
Bucolic, in every cliched, lovely sense.
Other than sitting with a coffee or beer and watching the Yuam flow by – which we could quite happily do for hours – there are not many sights as such in town. But you can walk around the quiet streets checking out a few wats, some old teak architecture and the market.
On Sundays there is a Walking Street market
on the lower section of Wiang Mai Road, with lots of local produce and snacks; a similar market sets up around the corner in front of the district office and surrounding lanes on Friday evenings. Both usually start around 17:00 and run until 21.00.
Hire a bicycle and explore the surrounding countryside, plus there are organised treks to be had. If you can ride a motorbike (and find one to rent), a couple of longer trips are well worth doing such as Mae Sam Laep
and Salween National Park
The road to Mae Sariang.
Beautiful Mae Sam Laep sits on the eastern bank of the Salween River and aside from great views across to Burma, you'll also find a bustling market town with boats going back and forth across the river carrying all sorts of goods. There used to be a lot of these atmospheric, remote, end-of-the-road style places in Thailand but these days there are fewer and fewer, so if you have the time up your sleeve it is worth setting aside an extra day, not just for Mae Sariang, but also for a day trip to Mae Sam Laep.