Located in the northwest corner of Thailand, bordering the Shan States of Burma, Mae Hong Son town is tucked between mountain ranges on all sides. It is often shrouded in mist giving it a mysterious and ethereal feel, and which also helps to keep the hillsides a deep green colour in the rainy season.
A pretty lake fronted by Burmese styled temples forms the centre of the town, but there are many other reasons the tour buses stopover here. Crowds flock to see the bizarre long necked Paduang women, hotsprings and waterfalls, the remarkable cave systems at Soppong and, of course, the endless vistas on the roller coaster road that connects it to Chiang Mai.
From unique Shan temples and Tai Yai locals to long necked women, there’s good reason why this town is popular with the tour buses, experience the remote northwest…more
Step out of the hectic travel plan for a few weeks and lifestyle it in Pai, a town full of friendly backpackers and budget friendly bungalows and services, plus some adventure…more
Take your pick between family run guesthouses, forest bungalows or mid-range scenic hotels in Pai or Mae Hong Son, book online or see recommended budget options…more
just a short flight from Chiang Mai or Bangkok, those with more time and a strong stomach can take the bus or hire a car from Chiang Mai, alternatively join an off road adventure…more
Mae Hong Song and Pai guide – relaxation in the rural Thai north
Mae Hong Son province is perhaps Thailand’s most remote, yet it remains popular on two counts; its rural and rugged mountainous scenery offers an excellent three day excursion known as ‘the Mae Hong Son Loop’, and the small laid-back town of Pai is a popular hangout for backpackers who come here to disappear for weeks.
Pai is the first stop on the ‘loop’ and is a delightful town set in a broad rice-field covered valley among the uplands. Quaint bamboo bungalows lines the meandering river, and there is a general cheap and unhurried, hippie character to the place which is why backpacker like to stay for weeks. Adventure activities are a main drawcard, including trekking, rafting the excellent rapids of the Pai river, caving and blackwater rafting, motorcross riding and even plenty of metaphysical pursuits such as yoga, meditation, reiki and others offered by local foreign residents.
Over New Year it gets crowded with Bangkok Thais, who find it the latest trendy destinations, with its curious bohemian character and dreadlocked locals serving the coffee. By night the bars are lively with tourists, and there is often live music.
Getting to Mae Hong Son is getting easier with the increased number of flights from Bangkok and Chiang Mai. To get here by car, the simpliest thing to do is arrange a rental car in Chiang Mai and begin your winding journey westward. It’s a dangerous road, however, and you might want to take a tour instead.