The people of the Kayan ethnic group come under many names: most frequently and crudely, ‘Long-Neck Karen’ by local Thais and visitors who don’t know any better; ‘Femmes Girafes’, by the ever tactful French and just ‘Long-Necks’ in certain tourist blurb. They are actually a sub-group of the Red Karen or Karenni ethnic group, and originate from Burma’s Kayah State just across the ... Read more about Visiting the Kayan people .
The twin Shan-Burmese-style wats of Wat Jong Klang and Jong Kham and their reflections on Jong Kham lake make for the classic Mae Hong Son photo. The brilliant white and golden chedis mesh with the green roofs and their yellow edgings to form a glistening mirage across the surface of the lake, broken only by the lake's fountains. Wat Jong Kham is the elder of the two and is best known for its ... Read more about Wat Jong Klang and Wat Jong Kham .
These two temples are set towards the west of central Mae Hong Son and feature a reclining Buddha at the base (within the grounds of Wat Phra Non) and, from the summit, by Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, splendid views over the surrounds. Wat Phra Non is a small wat that sits at the base of Doi Kong Mu and houses a 12-metre reclining Buddha. Phra Non means reclining Buddha and this Burmese-styled ... Read more about Wat Phra Non and Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu .
Trekking is another attraction in Mae Hong Son, though to a lesser extent than in Pai or Soppong, and can be done as part of a day tour for a few hours or for a full day or longer. Longer treks will take you into the mountains towards the Burmese border, where you will visit Karen villages. Generally you need a minimum of two people for a departure, but if you’re alone and flexible with your ... Read more about Trekking .
We went in here sceptical and came out thoroughly enthused. Set in a two storey teak house on Singhanat Bamrung Rd, the Mae Hong Son Living Museum is a small but well laid out museum -- it's more of an exhibition really -- which shows all things Mae Hong Son by means of mostly photographs covering culture, ethnic groups, history and architecture, and points out many remaining old buildings around ... Read more about Mae Hong Son Living Museum .
Like any Thai town, Mae Hong Son has its fair share of markets and here are three that are worth a look for the more market-inclined traveller -- note that not all are open year-round. Every Sunday, on the right hand side of the road to Mae Sariang, you'll find Mae Hong Son's Sunday Market. This is the rotating market appearing in each of Mae Hong Son province’s districts and Sundays is the ... Read more about Mae Hong Son markets .
The owner of a property to the north of Mae Hong Son has discovered supposedly health-giving mud on his land and you can now share the benefits at the temptingly named Phu Klon mud spa. It is not clear exactly where the mud itself comes from, as it is found only in large terracotta pots beside a large natural hot spring pool. There’s a prominent sales shop with a wide range of mud and ... Read more about Phu Klon mud spa .
If you're looking for a day out and don't particularly want to go trekking, head south out of Mae Hong Son on the road that follows the Pai River and you’ll see signs for the boat pier, Tha Huay Dua, where you can arrange a boat trip down the picturesque river. These trips generally commence at Tha Huay Dua and finish at Huay Sua Tao Kayan village, some 20 minutes of travel time away, but ... Read more about Boat trips .
Tham Pla (Cave Fish) Forest Park is around 17 kilometres from Mae Hong Son on the road to Pai. It's a very pleasant little spot with a river in a cave feeding a number of creeks that run through the attractive gardened grounds. The main attraction is the fish cave, packed with phluang fish. These fish are similar to carp and have to be some of the best fed ones in Thailand. You can buy small bags ... Read more about Tham Pla Forest Park .
Located just off the main highway some 20 kilometres before Mae Hong Son is the forest temple Wat Tham Wua, whose Vipassana meditation retreats are very popular with foreign visitors. There is an English-speaking abbot and stays are payable by donation only, which ought to include costs for your simple lodging, food, instruction plus of course a bit extra. It's a lovely setting in gardens ... Read more about Tham Wua Forest Monastery .
Another former KMT army post, the border village of Ban Rak Thai has reinvented itself as a kind of mini Mae Salong-style tourist destination. Tea has replaced opium and flocks of tourists (especially Chinese), head here to sample the local brews and eat in cafes serving Yunnanese specialities. The village is quite cute with plenty of old South Chinese-style cottages along a winding road ... Read more about Ban Rak Thai (formerly known as Mae Aw) .