Thailand Country Guide

Tour Itineraries


Mae Hong Son Loop

Final Journey
After Mae Sariang the next destination is the capital of Mae Hong Son province, Mae Hong Son town, which is the half way point on the loop. Mae Hong Son town lies at the bottom of a valley amongst the mountain ranges that form the border between Myanmar and Thailand. Its remote location gives the town a secluded and tranquil feel, while its proximity to Burma gives rise to the mix of people that reside there such as the Burmese, Shan, Thai and hill tribes. This interesting blend of people and cultures gives Mae Hong Son a very distinct feel from other towns in Thailand.
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The centre of the town is built around Nong Jong Kham Lake and a temple where you will find an array of guesthouses and restaurants. A small evening market is held here daily where locals and hill tribes come to sell their goods. The market is a great place to buy handicrafts and souvenirs including woodcarvings, silverware, precious stones and antiques. Mae Hong Son town also boasts numerous Burmese and Shan style temples. The most famous of them and a is Wat Doi Kong Mu sitting on a hilltop and offers spectacular views of the town below. Other sights and activities include hill tribe treks, Long Neck Karen villages, elephant riding, bamboo rafting and Phu Klon Country Club.

Town of Mae Hong Son by Steven Belcher

The final leg of the loop on highway 1285 from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai is arguably one of the most scenic drives in the Northern Thailand. However, the drive is not for the faint hearted, this mountain road claims to have over 1,864 curves. The journey can be broken up with stops to Pha Sua Waterfall, Tham Pla fish cave and Tham Lod. Tham Lod which means "coffin cave" is a favourite with tourists. The cave is famous for its stalactite and stalagmite formations and ancient wooden coffins. You can hire a bamboo raft and guide to explore the cave.

The last destination on the loop and worth spending an overnight stay is the town of Pai. Before the 1990s, the town comprised of a few dirt roads and shops. Tourists soon discovered the natural beauty of the Pai River and the surrounding valley. Businesses and development eventually followed not long after and Pai turned into a small backpacker settlement that it is today. This small town is filled with cafes, restaurants, bookstores and guesthouses. During high season (October to February), nightlife here comes alive and during the day, visitors take advantage of the hot spring, rafting and trekking opportunities in the beautiful countryside.
Street in Pai by Kansaikiwi

After a relaxing stay in Pai, the Mae Hong Son loop is almost complete. Returning back 120 km on Highway 1285 will transport you out of the rugged mountains of Mae Hong Son and back to the urban sprawl of Chiang Mai.

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