Photo: Classic wooden building.

Mae Hong Son Living Museum

Our rating:

The Mae Hong Son Living Museum is a splendid initiative set up to highlight and as much as possible protect the town’s cultural and architectural heritage.

While great in theory, certain similar projects in other northern Thai cities can be a bit half-baked so while we did enter slightly sceptical, in this case, we came out thoroughly enthused. Some say it’s a defence against Pai’s dark arts of crass commercialism and rapid development, although to be realistic Mae Hong Son can’t blame tourism for the regular demolition of some of its older buildings to make way for new bank branches or air-con minimarts.

Don’t miss the Shan style 7-eleven opposite. Photo taken in or around Mae Hong Son Living Museum, Mae Hong Son, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Don’t miss the Shan style 7-eleven opposite. Photo: Mark Ord

Even hard-wearing teak has a limit to its shelf life and such historical buildings require considerable money and effort to preserve which isn’t always easy in the case of privately owned ones or one where, for instance, a family is trying to run a small business. Help is needed, so any project that does so is a start and even just making people aware of the problem and displaying the town’s cultural heritage to locals—as much as visitors—is a worthy project.

The small but well laid out museum—more of an exhibition really—shows all things Mae Hong Son by means of mostly photographic exhibits covering culture, local ethnic groups, history, architecture and even cuisine and points out many remaining old buildings of note around town. These include period villas or perhaps former trading company offices not just well-known temples, some of which today are hardware stores for instance or private houses and you’d never imagine the history behind them.

Fascinating and we strongly recommend grabbing one of their excellent brochures and maps from which you can work out your own walking or bicycle tour of the town. This should be your first stop on arrival in Mae Hong Son as, even if you’re not about to embark on a do-it-yourself cycling tour, you’ll find an excellent potted general history and descriptions of the well-known sites as well.

It is officially open daily from 08:30 to 16:30 though on our last low season visit we did find it closed. A shame if it is but at least it’s not far out of your way. Why doesn’t every Thai town have one of these?

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Mae Hong Son Living Museum
Singhanat Bamrung Road, Mae Hong Son
Mo–Sa: 08:30–16:30
T: (053) 611 944

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