Photo: Back in the day.

Khun Yuam Museum

Our rating:

Khun Yuam’s excellent little museum is also known as the Thai-Japan Friendship Memorial Hall, the World War II Museum and the Japanese War Museum, but we’ll just go with Khun Yuam Museum, since, that’s where it is, it’s the only museum in town plus its scope includes plenty of exhibits not connected with the war as well.

During World War II Mae Hong Son’s remote Khun Yuam Town was one of the Japanese army’s most important bases in Thailand, as a forward supply and communications centre during their Burma campaign. It was also something of an R&R centre and housed the largest military hospital in the country. Consequentially, many Japanese soldiers died and were buried here—many under what is now Highway 108.

Quite the collection. Photo taken in or around Khun Yuam Museum, Khun Yuam, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Quite the collection. Photo: Mark Ord

The Imperial army hacked out roads and bridges right across northwest Thailand and the only reason it’s not as famous today as Kanchanaburi and the Bridge on the River Kwai is that local coolies were employed as workers, since it wasn’t really practical to transport any Allied prisoners this far.

The museum today receives financial assistance from Japan, sees many Japanese visitors and has a similar significance for them as the Hellfire Pass Museum in Sai Yok does for Australians or British. Since the Thais were at least nominally allied to the Japanese, they treated locals and workers better than they would their prisoners, so less resentment against them existed either then or now.

Historical relics. Photo taken in or around Khun Yuam Museum, Khun Yuam, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Historical relics. Photo: Mark Ord

The museum was established in 1995 by the town police chief who had amassed a huge collection of World War II artefacts. Though nowadays the core collection is still his military paraphernalia, it has been expanded to include displays and photography exhibitions on local culture, general regional history and ethnography. The displays are all well displayed, with legible English explanations and we reckon in proportion to the tiny town’s population it has to be one of the best provincial museums in ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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Khun Yuam Museum
Thai/Japan Friendship Memorial Hall, Route 108, Khun Yuam
Mo–Su: 08:30–16:30
Admission: 100 baht adults, 50 baht children

Location map for Khun Yuam Museum

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