Mae Hong Son

Mae Hong Son

Tranquil temple town

Remote Mae Hong Son, provincial capital of the eponymously named province, lies just a few kilometres from the Burmese border in Thailand’s far northwest.

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The small city or big town is barely much larger than Pai these days, thanks to the on-going tourism boom there, but Mae Hong Son certainly sees far fewer foreign visitors. You’ll notice several large governmental and municipal buildings on the outskirts and perhaps more traffic may zip along its slightly wider roads, yet Mae Hong Son has a decidedly more laidback feel to it than its busier neighbour up the road.

One of Thailand’s most beautiful provincial capitals. : Mark Ord.
One of Thailand’s most beautiful provincial capitals. Photo: Mark Ord

Whether you go for bustle or laidback, we reckon Mae Hong Son has a more attractive setting than Pai in so far as its valley location is much narrower—with barely enough room for the town and its tiny airport—and is bordered by steep forested hills that crowd in from all directions. The lake is a highly picturesque feature in the centre of town and makes for a great spot to take an evening stroll, enjoy a picnic or down a sunset drink, while several attractive Shan-style temples, as well as old teak constructions, dot the lakeside, town and surrounding hills.

Unusually for a Thai provincial capital, there’s a total lack of high rise though an incongruous 4-lane ring road does mar the suburbs somewhat. (It’s apparently part of one of those pan-Asian highway schemes intended to eventually connect Bangkok and Chiang Mai directly with Delhi or somewhere ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 2,500 words.)

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