Photo: Hiking near Tham Lot, Soppong.

Tuesday Market

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Tiny Soppong is generally a rather quiet spot. It’s too new a settlement to have any prestigious old temples, too small to possess a Walking Street and too far off the tourist trail to have any kind of cafe and bar scene. But on Tuesday mornings when the market comes to town, the village rises to life and you can swap colourful and lively for quiet and somnolent.

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Lisu and Hmong vendors

Lisu and Hmong vendors.

Talart Angkhan, or the Tuesday Market, actually rotates on a weekly basis among Mae Hong Son districts — it’s Pai on Wednesdays, Khun Yuam on Saturdays, Mae Hong Son town on Sundays, and every Tuesday little Soppong gets a go — indeed it’s one of the best of the lot.

Lisu mum and daughter selling their wares

Lisu mum and daughter selling their wares.

It’s a very old-fashioned style market, with many vendors just sitting under parasols on mats on the ground, and with all the hilltribe customers and farmers, many with thanaka powder on their faces, you could be forgiven for thinking yourself in a Shan State market over the border. Many of the goods on display add to that feeling — think thanaka bark, bags of fermented tea-leaves and dried, fermented soya bean paste, normally rarely seen in a Thai market.

Red Lahu girl with her thanaka

Red Lahu woman with her thanaka.

The market sets up along the roadside in front of the bus stop and convenience store and lasts from pre-dawn until around midday. Vendors may come from as far away as Pai or Mae Hong Son and shoppers travel from the villages in the surrounding hills, so you’ll see Karen, Shan, Black and Red Lahu, occasionally even Hmong and of course the (for Soppong) ubiquitous Lisu browsing the market.

Lisu fashions

Lisu fashions.

There are plenty of local snacks to try, such as of course khao soi plus various other northern, Shan and even Burmese-style noodles, grilled chicken and some less easily identified grilled meats. The village’s nearby noodle and rice shops do a brisk business over the morning, too.

Plenty of snacks about

Plenty of snacks.

During high season a few passing trekking groups might browse the market, but over the low season a tourist will be something of a novelty, so locals are friendly and ready to chat especially if they speak a few words of English or you’ve learnt a few words of Thai. It’s well worth trying to time your Soppong visit to coincide with this fascinating and photogenic market as you don’t see many such traditional ones still going these days.

The monks collecting alms aren't a market fixture - they just happened to be passing

The monks collecting alms aren’t a market fixture — they just happened to be passing.

It’s a shame laidback Soppong isn’t like this every day, but of course there are still the mountains, forests, caves and villages to explore.

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Soppong.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Soppong.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Soppong.
 Read up on how to get to Soppong, 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 Soppong? Please read this.
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