Mae Hong Son’s small but modern looking airport (HGN) sits just on the northern edge of the town centre and is almost walking distance from Jong Kham Lake if you’re not carrying too much luggage.
As is often the case with such minor regional airports, services can br erratic in terms of both scheduling and pricing. At the time of writing the only direct services were between Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai airports so any other destination, such as Bangkok, requires a change of flight at Chiang Mai. Furthermore seasonal factors come into play, so you’ll find far fewer flights during low season, while you may encounter delays and even cancellations due to low visibility caused by mist and cloud cover at certain periods of the year. Sadly dry season smoke from burning fields also can cause visibility issues.
At the time of writing in November 2017, we found two daily flights in each direction with Bangkok Airways departing Chiang Mai at 09:20 and 16:15 and returning at 10:35 and 17:25. Prices varied between 2,140 and nearly 4,000 each way so we reckon you’d need to be in a real hurry in order to avail yourself of their pricey services. These are prop planes—ATR72’s—and take around 45 minutes for what in clear weather, is a very scenic trip.
Both flights connect from Chiang Mai to Bangkok as well if you wish, though we did see a bewildering price range for the through flight going all the way from 4,340 up to a spectacular 15,430 baht! Rates vary according to day of the week, time of the year, time of booking and whatever deals Bangkok Airways see fit to offer. We do emphasis that this is their high season 2017/18 schedule and we’d assume low season will see it curtailed to a single daily flight at best. Don’t rely on your hotel reception having the latest info to hand and please check the airline’s website below.
Former carrier Kan Air had suspended services when we last checked, including their Pai flights, and though we were assured it was only temporary, we’ve had no positive news since.
Bangkok Airways Mae Hong Son Airport, Niwet Phisan Rd. T: (053) 611 426. http://www.bangkokair.com/
Mae Hong Son's bus station is at the southern end of town and is signposted just off the main Mae Sariang Highway. From here buses run regularly between Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai, by either the northern route, via Soppong and Pai, or the slightly longer southern one via Khun Yuam and Mae Sariang. The northern route is by far the more spectacular, but it is very hilly and winding—hang onto your stomach. There are also regular direct buses to Bangkok.
There’s a choice between minibuses and occasional larger, fan cooled buses whilst all air-con Bangkok-bound coaches take the Mae Sariang route only. If you are heading for Bangkok we’d recommend going via Pai to Chiang Mai and over-nighting there before taking a train or bus to Bangkok. Mae Hong Son to Bangkok in one go, via Mae Sariang is a long and arduous journey and we recommend avoiding night buses in Thailand (for safety reasons) when possible.
Prempracha have cornered the local routes and their minibuses for Pai via Soppong and Mae Sariang via Khun Yuam leave approximately hourly in theory but in reality whenever the bus is full. They cost 150 baht for Pai and 100 for Soppong or 200 for Mae Sariang and 100 for Khun Yuam. Through minibus tickets to Chiang Mai go for 250 baht. For travel times allow the following: Soppong 1-1.5 hrs, Pai 2.5, Chiang Mai 6-6.5, Khun Yuam 1.30 and Mae Sariang around 4 hrs.
The large fan cooled bus leaves at 8.00 in the southerly direction costing 43 baht for Khun Yuam, 97 baht for Mae Sariang and 185 baht for Chiang Mai. The similar fan coach service to Soppong and Pai was no longer running at the time of our last visit.
Another usual suspect in this part of the world, Sombat Tours, provides air-con coaches for the run down to Bangkok with advertised departures at 15:00, 16:00 and 16:29 daily. (That’s 16:29 not 16:30 so don’t miss it!) They’re described as star, super and supreme services and go for 675, 788 and 1,050 baht respectively taking approximately 15-16 hours to reach Bangkok’s Mor Chit bus terminal. Higher prices reflect decreasing seat numbers and all go via Mae Sariang and Chiang Mai. There will generally be additional departures during weekends and holiday periods.
From the bus station to town should cost 40 baht per person for a moto taxi or 60 baht for a tuk-tuk for 2 persons. (Don’t get excited the bus station is just about the only place in Mae Hong Son you’ll see a tuk-tuk!) Moto taxis can be found in front of the market. Though the address is Khunlumprapas Road the bus station is actually on an unnamed parallel road 1 block to the west.
Mae Hong Son Bus station 117 Khunlumprapas Rd. T: (053) 684 222
Prepmpracha Minibus Service Mae Hong Son bus station, 117 Khunlumprapas Rd. T: (053 ) 492 999 http://premprachatransports.com
Sombat Tour Mae Hong Son bus station, 117 Khunlumprapas Rd. https://www.sombattour.com/
Most of relatively compact Mae Hong Son is conveniently walkable which perhaps explains the paucity of local transport of the tuk tuk kind. The only place we regularly encountered them is at the bus station though your hotel or guesthouse reception may well have a number to hand. The bus depot tuk tuk station posts up a list of set tariffs.
From the bus station the following prices apply:
Jong Kham Lake area 50-60 baht
Sang Tong Huts (or nearby Makasanti Road addresses) 80 baht daytime and 100 baht at night
Fern Resort 320 baht in the day day and 400 baht at night
Phu Klon Mud Spa or Tham Pla National Park 450 baht
Slightly cheaper motorbike taxis are also available there.
For much cheaper rates to outlying villages including Ban Rak Thai, Huay Sua Tao and occasionally Soppong check the yellow songthaews at the station outside the municipal market on Langpanich Road. These generally leave in morning times so don’t leave it too late and check times the day before.
Certain guesthouses provide bicycle rental and you will see one or two bike and motorbike hire shops around town.
Motorbikes can be hired from a number of travel agents and guesthouses around Mae Hong Son for about 150-200 baht per day for a scooter. There is plenty to see and do in the surrounding areas, and most of the proposed day trip itineraries can be done independently. Salween River Cafe has some Hondas for rent for 200 baht whilst just a bit further down the same road you’ll find PR Tours which have a wider variety of bikes plus cars and 4WD for rent. Their bikes go for the daily rate of 150 baht for an automatic and 200 baht for a semi-manual with their cars from 2,500 to 3,000 baht per day.
Please read your travel insurance policy carefully before hiring a scooter and always always always wear a helmet.
PR Tours Pradit Jongkham Road T: (053) 611 647; (086) 180 7031 Open Mo–Su: 08:00–18:30 http://www.pamotorcarrent.com