In addition to the wide range of activities offered by Cave Lodge it is possible to organise treks and day tours directly in Soppong as well.
Most guesthouses, plus an unnamed trekking agency just a few doors down from Lemon Hill, can organise one-, two or three-day treks through the surrounding hills, including overnight stays in hilltribe villages, and on the longer tours generally some bamboo rafting.
Approximate rates for day hikes are 1,000 baht or 1,300 baht for hiking and rafting, and up to 1,600 baht if you wish to add on Tham Lod. Little Eden offers two- and three-day treks with the enthusiastic and knowledgeable guesthouse owner, priced from 2,500 to 3,000 baht and 3,000 to 3,500 baht respectively, based on a minimum of two people. Again this will include meals, overnight stays in hilltribe villages and return transport.
Treks for one or more days may include stays in Lahu, Lisu and Karen villages, but even though it is a lot less touristy than Pai, don't expect to find areas that aren't well frequented by other foreigners, as trekking has been a big business in Soppong as well as Pai for a long time now.
Many shorter hikes, including ones to surrounding villages, are relatively easily organised on your own, and most local guesthouses have maps and information available showing trekking routes. Most of the closer villages are used to tourists by now and if you do get lost you'll find someone in any village (usually one of the younger members or the school teacher) who can speak a smattering of English to help you get back.
Ban Nong Thong, a fairly large and prosperous (that is, more concrete than teak or bamboo) Lisu village, is an easy walk out of Soppong. Walk around 500 metres towards Mae Hong Son, turn left, and it's up that road another 500 metres or so. It's not one of the more attractive villages around but locals are friendly enough and there's a small village shop where you can buy a canned drink and while away a bit of time with friendly Alema, the shopkeeper.
By Mark Ord.
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