Photo: Pretty sunflower fields.

Khun Yuam Museum

Our rating:

We’ve seen this museum called 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, and it’s the only museum in town — and it deals with stuff beyond World War II.

The Museum garden houses rusting old Japanese vehicles

The museum garden plays host to rusting old Japanese vehicles.

During World War II, Mae Hong Son’s remote Khun Yuam was one of the Japanese army’s most important bases in allied 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 also died and are buried here — many under what is now Route 108. 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, as it wasn’t really practical to transport Allied prisoners this far.

Spanking new Cultural Centre

Spanking new Cultural Centre.

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 and the British. Since the Thais were at least nominally allied to the Japanese, the latter certainly had to treat locals and workers much better than they would their prisoners, so little resentment against them existed then or now.

Some of apparently 1,300 WW II military objects

Some of apparently 1,300 military objects.

The museum was established in 1995 by the local 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’s been expanded to include displays and photography exhibitions on local culture, general regional history and ethnography. It’s all very 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 museums in the country.

But also plenty of local cultural items on display

Also plenty of local cultural items on display.

Aside form information on the Japanese Army and the war, there is also information on the region’s culture and ethnic groups, which include the Shan, Red Karen (Karenni), Hmong and Lawa groups.

There’s also photographic displays, dioramas and wax figures...

There’s also photographic displays, dioramas and wax figures…

The museum is set in what is officially the Khun Yuam Cultural Centre, the newest and smartest building in town, but it does actually take up most of it. 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
Daily 08:30-17:00
Admission: 100 baht adults, 50 baht children

By .

Location map for Khun Yuam Museum

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