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An update from Evaneos
Mae Hong Son

Mae Hong Son (Thailand)

Practical information about Mae Hong Son

  • Encounters with locals
  • Viewpoint
  • Hiking / Trekking
  • Countryside
  • Mountain
  • Lake
  • Culture (paddy field, coffee, tea ...)
  • Place or Religious Monument
  • Handicraft
  • Place or Historical Monument
  • Off the beaten track
4 / 5 - 3 reviews
How to get there
4 hours from Chiang Mai by bus
When to go
Between October and March
Minimum stay
1 to 2 days

Reviews of Mae Hong Son

Emmanuelle Bluman Travel writer
163 travel articles

During my stay in Thailand, I visited Mae Hong Son, a charming mountain village in the north of the country where various ethnic minorities live, especially the famous giraffe women.

My suggestion:
The route from Chiang Mai is beautiful but also tortuous, take an occasional rest to avoid spending 10 continuous hours in a bus. 
Summary:

From Chiang Mai, go towards Mae Hong Son, in the heart of the mountains and the wildest region in north Thailand. I decided to do the famous ring which goes around the region through several mountain villages. Around here the costumes and traditions seem much brighter than elsewhere.

Mae Hong Son is completely encircled by mountains and the views around it are superb. It's very green and dense, and the village exudes a tranquil charm. 

Some people come to see the famous giraffe women, but I refused to go because I had heard that a lot of women only continued the practice for money and for the tourists. Instead, I visited the temples around the lake and watched the young monks in the streets, begging for their pittance.

I made a detour around the market to look at the local crafts and the regional fruit and vegetables that were for sale. Apparently the night market also has a lot to see, but I didn't have the time. It was time to go on my way to Doï Inthanon for the next part of my itinerary.

Mountains around Mae Hong Son
David Debrincat Travel writer
459 travel articles

At 350km from Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son is situated in the very north of Thailand and is home to a number of mountain-based ethnic groups.

My suggestion:
Visitors usually only travel north to go trekking. Treks here are cheaper, with fewer tourists and those departing from Mae Hong Son are more authentic than those from Chiang Mai.
Summary:

As I was a bit disappointed by the touristy side of my trek from Chiang Mai, I arrived in Mae Hong Son hoping to make up for what I missed in Chiang Mai. The first, nice surprise was to find that Mae Hong Son is a peaceful town that sits beside a pretty lake. The perfect place to relax during your trip.

During the day, you should visit the numerous Burmese-style monasteries and climb uphill to get the best views. In the evening, I recommend going to the night market. Lights from the town and temples reflect on the lake - it's stunning.

As for trekking in the surrounding moutains, you get to go from village to village and meet Karens, Meos, Lahus, Lisus and even Giraffe women from the Padaung tribe. An note about the latter. They are actually Burmese and not Thai. They are refugees who fled from the brutal regime in their native country. They don't live in villages but in refugee camps, where they are not allowed to cultivate the land they live on. On the one hand, visiting them seems a bit disrespectful but, on the other hand, tourism is their only source of income. I went, but I didn't feel at ease. I kept telling myself that it was a good idea, as they depend on visiting tourists in order to survive. It's a dilemma you'll have to face if you go there during your trip to Thailand...

View over Mae Hong Son
Aurélie Gottar Travel writer
10 travel articles

Mae Hong Son looks Burmese in appearance and is a typical northwest Thai town. It is a charming and culturally interesting destination, and an enjoyable place to visit and explore.

My suggestion:
Venture off along the famous Mae Hong Son loop by bike and enjoy views that offer a veritable feast for the eyes. There are many things to discover both within the town and in the surrounding area.
Summary:

For fans of adventure, Mae Hong Son is an essential place to visit. It lies on the famous Mae Hong Son loop, which you can travel when touring northern Thailand. Departing from Chiang Mai, the route provides wonderful opportunities to get off the beaten track and meet the local population.

This small, peaceful-looking town is full of life, especially if you're lucky enough to be there when a young monk is being ordained. Everyone is welcome to participate in the festivities on such occasions. The ceremony takes place over several days, with music and percussion from the temple in the town and a procession through the streets to the top of the hill, where another temple is located. There are beautiful views over the surrounding area to be enjoyed from there.

At the night market you can try some of the traditional little local dishes, which are strongly influenced by Burmese culture. For fans of wellness activities, there is a massage center providing massages and mud-based treatments a few kilometers from the town. There are also caves that have been transformed into temples to visit in the surrounding area. You have to look hard for these, however, as they aren't always well signposted.

A cave temple with all kinds of Buddhas