An attractive and photogenic stop-off
Published/Last edited or updated: 14th January, 2018
Mae Hong Son’s bamboo bridge—known in the Shan language as Su Tong Pae—is another of those sites that, while perhaps not worth travelling far out of your way to see, definitely merits a stop if you’re passing by.
Fortunately, with a strategic location at the junction of Highway 1095 and the route to Ban Rak Thai, it does conveniently slot in beside other out of town destinations. Right by the main highway, the bridge makes for a great stop if you’re travelling under your own steam between Mae Hong Son and Soppong or Pai. The eastern end of the bridge is signposted in English to the right of the road as you arrive from Soppong. Along with a stop at the nearby mud spa and a peek at the seasonally impressive Pha Sua Waterfall the bridge also adds to the various sites between Mae Hong Son and Ban Rak Thai for a day tour. Access to the Shan village of Kung Mai Sak and the western end of the bridge is just off this route.
The bridge itself resembles something of a mini-U Bein bridge with a raised but low, bamboo platform attached to teak piles and stretches some 500 metres across paddy-fields and the Mae Sa Nga Stream. It was built in 2012 purportedly to link a hill-top temple aside 1095 to the village itself.
The small Shan style temple on the low hill, known as Phu Sama, provides fine overviews of the bridge. A sealed road also connects the two and the bamboo bridge is only suitable for pedestrians so, aside from allowing monks direct access to the village (and vice versa), the main users are principally tourists. We did see plenty of atmospheric shots in town travel agents of early morning monks seeking alms from sarong-clad villagers on the bridge but we’d reckon you’d have to be lucky with your timing and there were certainly none about on the morning we visited.
In fact, when we passed by at an early pre-monk hour there was no-one at all and with rainy season emerald fields, it was a tranquil and splendid scene though it can get busy later in the day as local tourists stop off for selfies plus it’s a key feature of organised day tours. Car-park cafes at the highway entrance weren’t yet open when we arrived but a welcoming little spot at the village end was serving coffees, drinks and noodles.
The village itself is quaint and the outskirts offer more rural vistas across the paddy-fields so with a gentle return stroll, drink break in the cafe and perhaps wander to the temples at each end we’d allow at least an hour in total. Best done early morning, as you set off for Ban Rak Thai or, if you’re travelling along 1095, it’s well worth a halt at any time of day.
Address: Kung Mai Sak Village, around 7kms north of Mae Hong Son at the junction of Highway 1095 and the Ban Rak Thai road.
Coordinates (for GPS): 97º57'16.42" E, 19º23'22.26" N
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Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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