History of Mae Hong Son

Mae Hong Son is the town that the famous Mae Hong Son Loop is called after. We don’t know much about the history of this charming town. Until the road from Chiang Mai was sealed in the late 1980s Mae Hong Son was a very remote town. The population mostly consisted of Shan (Tai Yai) and Burmese. All the temples show influences of these people. In the 1980s Thai Airways started flying to Mae Hong Son from Chiang Mai. As a tourist destination Mae Hong Son has not really taken off as opposed to Pai.

Buddhist temples in Mae Hong Son

Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu

This temple is located on Doi Kong Mu, a hill overlooking Mae Hong Son. A steep road takes you up to the temple but it’s much nicer to walk up. There are two white chedis (pagodas) in Burmese style. The largest one dates back to 1860. It contains the relics of Phra Maha Mok Kallana Thera, an important Buddhist monk. He was one of the disciples of the Buddha. Migrants from Burma brought the relics to Mae Hong Son. They constructed the chedi. The first governor, Phraya Singhanat Racha, constructed the smaller chedi in 1874. As with most temples: try to be there at sunrise for spectacular views. Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu is our favourite amongst the temples of Mae Hong Son and it features in our Mae Hong Son Loop Tour.

Monks at a viewpoint
Monks during sunrise at Doi Kong Mu

Wat Jong Klang

Wat Jong Klang is located on the lake in the center of Mae Hong Son. It is next to Wat Chong Kham. This temple dates back from the 1860s. People constructed the temple as an offering to monks from Burma who visited Mae Hong for the funeral of an well-known abbot. Interesting is the wicker Buddha statue that is located in the Wihan. Wat Jong Klang also has glass painting that depict the story of the previous lives of Siddharta Gautama before he became the Buddha.

Two chedis with mountain scenery
Wat Jong Klang Mae Hong Son

Wat Chong Kham

Wat Chong Kham is located on the lake in central Mae Hong Son. It is next to Wat Jong Klang. These are usually called the twin temples of Mae Hong. Shan (Tai Yai) people constructed the temple in 1827. In 1970 fire damaged the original wooden temple. The current temple is a reconstruction. The temples are illuminated after dark and offer a spectacular sight. 

Buddhist temples on the lake
Mae Hong Son evening

Trekking in Mae Hong Son

Trekking is one of the great activities in Mae Hong Son. There are Hmong, Karen, Lisu and Lahu villages in the province. Landscapes are spectacular so get your hiking boots on. We have a number of itineraries from easy to medium to hard. Join us.

Palong forest Family trekking into the jungle
Family trekking into the jungle

Visiting the Padaung (Long Neck Karen)

The Padaung aka Long Neck Karen originate from Myanmar and have been one of Mae Hong Son’s tourist attractions for a long time. You can make a boat trip on the Pai River and visit one of their villages. You will pay an entrance fee of 200THB. According to the ticket the money will be spent on community development.

Long neck woman weaving
Huay Phu Keng Long Neck village

Ban Rak Thai

Ban Rak Thai (translated: village that loves Thai) is right on the border with Myanmar about one hour drive from Mae Hong Son. It is also known as Mae Aw. Yunnanese KMT fighters founded this settlement after having been defeated by the communists forces in China. It is a lovely small town located on a reservoir amidst tea plantations. The drive to Ban Rak Thai is very scenic. It’s worth spending the night there.

Ban Rak Thai

Whitewater rafting on the Pai River

Rafting on the Pai River is another great activity in Mae Hong Son. It’s a two day/one night trip that starts in Pai and end in Mae Hong Son. It’s real adventure in rubber dinghies. You will pass the lovely Susa Waterfalls.

Rubberboat shooting the rapids with tourists
Whitewater rafting

Su Tong Pae Bridge

The Su Tong Pae Bridge is an impressive bamboo bridge located not far from Mae Hong Son. Villagers built this bridge across a rice field to connect the village with a temple. It has become one of the great things to see in Mae Hong Son in recent years. Especially in the rainy season it offers great photo opportunities.

People on a bamboo bridge
Suthongpe Bridge Mae Hong Son

Mae Hong Son Living Museum

This small museum which is more of an exhibition is located in an old wooden house, right in the center of town. It is really worth a visit. There are pictures and exhibits related to culture, history, ethnic groups and architecture. They have some excellent brochures and a map that shows heritage houses and buildings. Entrance is free.  Chiang Mai University, Mae Hong Municipality and other private and public organisations founded the museum in cooperation. The Thailand Research Fund offered financial support.

Old wooden house
Mae Hong Son Living Museum

Thailand-Japan Friendship Memorial Hall

The Thailand-Japan Friendship Memorial Hall is located in Khun Yuam, 143 kms south of Mae Hong Son. Apart from the seasonal sunflower fields it is the only real tourist attraction of Khun Yuam. An engineer unit of the Imperial Japanese Army was based in Khun Yuam during World War Two. Their presence has cemented friendly relations between Japan and the community of Khun Yuam. This museum is dedicated to that history. It also gives information and has exhibits about the local Shan (Tai Yai) population.

Traditional building
Khun Yuam museum

The Fish Cave

The Fish Cave is….. a cave with a lot of fish. Not far from Mae Hong Son it is a pleasant stopover for lunch. You can make a nice walk to the cave which is nothing really special. Scenery is nice and it is good to stretch the legs. It’s a good place to stop for lunch. Entrance fee is 50THB per person.

Fish cave Mae Hong Son