Mae Hong Son is a rural border town located in a beautiful mountainous valley. Whether you’re stopping through while driving the famous Mae Hong Son loop or you’ve decided to venture further than Pai, there is so much to see and do in Mae Hong Son. Here’s our guide on how to spend 48 hours in this diverse and vibrant town.
Start your Mae Hong Son adventure with a climb up to the revered Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu. Not only is this Shan-style temple stunningly beautiful, it also provides breathtaking views of Mae Hong Son and the valley below. Walk around the back of Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu for impressive vistas over the mountain ranges and to explore a local market. There is also a small cafe for refreshments.
Take a break from sightseeing at the quirky and fun Little Good Things cafe and restaurant. Tuck into some healthy vegan food or refresh yourself with delicious local coffee. Little Good Things is also a great place to relax with a book or to pick up a few souvenirs.
Spend the afternoon exploring the Mae Hong Son Living Museum, a history capsule of old photographs, local cultural artefacts and architecture. A trip to the Mae Hong Son Living Museum will provide you with greater insight into the diverse local culture and the town’s colourful history.
Head to one of the lake-side bars like Sunflower Cafe or the Meeting Bar for an ice-cold beer or refreshing cocktail, as you watch the sunset after a beautiful fun-filled day. Jong Kham Lake is also an ideal place to watch locals practice Tai Chi and see people go about their day.
If you are in town between October and February, the Mae Hong Son Walking Street Market is well worth checking out. Not only is this a great place to snack on delicious local food at awesome prices, it is also ideal for picking up a few locally inspired gifts for loved ones back home. The Walking Street Market is along the roads around Jong Kham Lake.
If you are in town during months when the Walking Street Market is not in action or when you simply feel like trying out another local hot spot, check out the Salween River Restaurant. This friendly family restaurant has an extensive menu that includes local specialities like Khao Soi and Burmese tea leaf salad, as well as pizza and burgers. Local beers and bottles of whiskey are served and there is a large library where one can swap books. The Salween River Restaurant is a great place to mingle and make new friends.
Stop by the iconic Cross Roads bar which is frequented by foreigners and hardened Thais alike. Once the rest of the town is asleep this is the one place that is still a bustling hub of activity even in the wee hours.
Immerse yourself in local culture at the town’s morning market. Pull up a plastic chair and enjoy breakfast, local style. Take a walk around the market and see the different produce on sale from local hill tribe communities.
Continue your adventure at the Sutongpe Bridge, a bamboo bridge that stretches across lush rice fields. In Mae Hong Son you are never far away from nature and the Sutongpe Bridge is a great place to check out the green jungle and sprawling fields. If you want to explore more, take a trip to the fish cave, which has a holy Hindu Nara statue believed to protect the carp fish.
Located on the shores of the picturesque Jong Kham Lake lake is the sacred Wat Chong Kham temple, a significant local landmark that dates back to 1827. The temple itself is stunningly beautiful as is the large Buddha image, gold temple pillars and the 100-year-old jataka paintings. Continue your exploration with a visit to the on-site museum which has 150-year-old wooden dolls from Myanmar that depict gruesome aspects of the wheel of life.
If you have more time on your hands, hop on a motorbike and drive to the mesmerising town of Ban Rak Thai. Ban Rak Thai, also known as Mae Awa, is a stunning tea-growing village and settlement of former Kuo Min Tang fighters from Yunnan Province in China. Ban Rak Thai is a picturesque town around a lake, with mud-brick houses and plenty of tea-tasting opportunities.