People visiting Mae Hong Son have a reasonable choice of activities and sightseeing tour destinations. Bamboo rafting, trekking tours and boat trips through majestic mountainous landscapes are sure to excite the adventurous while a long-necked hill-tribe Karen village is a pleasure for those with an interest in culture.
A village populated by ethnic Chinese, and where tea-tasting and buying jade articles are key activities, add to the day tour options. Although shopping options in Mae Hong Son are not equal to those in Bangkok or other major Asian cities, tourists will find market tours provide the opportunity of buying truly unique souvenirs and tasting delicious snacks.
Last Updated: November 2019
HIKING AND TREKKING
Not only is Mae Hong Son town easy to navigate on foot, but hiking may also be the most popular way to explore the rest of this largely undiscovered province. Most organised Mae Hong Son trekking and hiking tours require at least two people and can last between a couple of hours to a few days. Well qualified trekking tour guides know all about basic survival techniques as well as the customs of the local hill-tribes.
Most Mae Hong Son trekking tours begin with drives about one or two hours outside of Mae Hong Son town, followed by lengthy mountain hikes with stops at villages. The homes of village families, chiefs, or the guide’s family members are where most hikers stay during overnight tours. These people usually provide their guests with sleeping bags, mattresses, blankets, and mosquito nets.
Some Mae Hong Son trekking tours also include overnight camping trips in jungles where hikers can practise their survival skills. Mae Hong Son trekking itineraries typically include stops at Karen, Kayan, and Hmong villages or the Nam Tok Surin National Park area. The toughest months for trekking are muddy August and September as well as dry and hot March and April.
BOATING AND RAFTING
Visitors can make the 20 minute boat journey along the Pai River from the Tha Huay Dua boat pier to the Huay Sua Tao Kayan village. Bamboo rafting is also available from Tha Huay Dua during the peak winter high season.
BAN NAM PHIANG DIN
Ban Nam Phiang Din is another popular day trip. The hour long Pai River journey trip Mae Hong Son town takes passengers past lovely scenery on both sides of the river prior to reaching this Pha Bong District village named after the long-necked women who wear brass ornaments around their necks and sell affordable handicrafts to visitors. Long-tailed boats which seat up to seven people are the easiest way to reach Ban Nam Phiang Din.
BAN RAK THAI
Ban Rak Thai is another activity where visitors will be warmly greeted as the name of this village also known as Mae Aw means ‘We Love Thailand Village’. Most people who live in Ban Rak Thai are descendants of soldiers who fled the Chinese province of Yunnan to escape Communism. Mandarin is still frequently spoken in this former jade trading centre which is now filled with Chinese tea plantations and tea shops.
Mae Hong Son is several kilometres away from the closest modern shopping centre, so visitors must stock up on souvenirs and necessities at the lively local markets. The main markets in Mae Hong Son town are Phanitwattana Road’s morning market, where most of the wares are food and herbal medicines, and the evening Walking Street market where shoppers can browse some of Mae Hong Son’s finest silver. This Nong Chong Kham market, however, is only held between October and March.
The province of Mae Hong Son also has a rotating market which comes to each of its districts at different times. Sunday morning is when this rotating market comes to Mae Hong Son’s provincial capital near the road to Mae Sariang. Bargaining is a must at all of these markets as well as any of the hill tribe villages where residents sell handicrafts, woodcarvings, antiques, and jewellery.