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 the country.

Aside from displays dealing with the Japanese Army and the war, there is also information on the region’s culture and ethnic groups, which include the Shan, Red Karen or Karenni, Hmong and Lawa peoples.

The museum takes up most of what is officially the Khun Yuam Cultural Centre—the newest and smartest building in town—located on the main road, Highway 108, towards the northern end of town. While we’re not suggesting a visit to Khun Yuam solely for the museum, if you’re passing through, don’t miss it!

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

By .

Location map for Khun Yuam Museum

Popular attractions in Khun Yuam

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Khun Yuam.

Best places to stay in Khun Yuam

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Khun Yuam.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Khun Yuam.
 Read up on where to eat on Khun Yuam.
 Check out our listings of other things to do in and around Khun Yuam.
 Read up on how to get to Khun Yuam, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Khun Yuam? Please read this.
 Browse tours in Thailand with Tourradar.

Like what you see? Then you’ll love our newsletter

The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.


See below for more sights and activities in Khun Yuam that are listed on

Top of page