Known as ‘the city of three mists‘ and hemmed in by the high mountain ranges of the Shan Hills. Mae Hong Son (แม่ฮ่องสอน) is the most mountainous province in Thailand, occupying 13,814 square kilometers (5,334 sq mi). The provincial capital was originally established in the early 19th century as an elephant training camp as ordered by the then King of Chiang Mai.
Mae Hong Son’s Information
With its remote setting and surrounding mountains, this province fits many travellers’ preconceived notion of how a northern Thai city should be. There’s a very strong Burmese influence to be found here due to the provinces’ location along the border with Myanmar.
This means that it is also a crossroads for Shan and Burmese immigrants (mostly Karen, with some Hmong, Lisu and Lahu). However this border-town feel doesn’t spoil the bounty of nature to be explored and best of all, there’s hardly a tuk-tuk or tout to be seen. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean Mae Hong Son is uncharted territory – tour groups and adventurous holidaymakers have been coming here for years.
Accessible only by a series of windy mountain roads or a precarious flight to Mae Hong Son Airport, this is arguably Thailand’s most remote province. Thickly forested and mountainous, and far from the influence of sea winds, the temperature rarely rises above 40°C, while in January the temperature can drop to 0°C. The air is often misty with ground fog in the winter and smoke from slash-and-burn agriculture during the hot season.
Now firmly rooted on the tourist trail, many resorts are opening in the area around the capital, but the vast majority of visitors don’t seem to make it much further than Pai. Nevertheless, the area’s potential as a base for activities, from kayaking to trekking, ensures that your visit can be quite unlike anyone else’s.
Here at AIRPORTELs, we have put together a list of attractions you might like to visit while you’re visiting Mae Hong Son, and if you need to have your luggage stored or delivered for your trip, you can make an easy online booking.
1. Pang Ung
One of Mae Hong Son’s hidden treasures. Pang Ung is located very close to the border of Myanmar in the North West corner of Thailand. It is a small place nestled in the mountains. There is a camping ground to pitch a tent, and lodges are available for rent around the area.
2. Tham Nam Lod (Nam Lod Cave)
Nam Lod Cave is one of Thailand’s most impressive and easily accessible caves. Partly for its size, partly for its attractive limestone stalactite formations and partly for an unusual coffin cave hidden within the main cave. Indeed, the main chamber is spectacular, running to a height of 50 metres, from floor to ceiling. Located near Sop Pong in Pang Mapha District.
3. Doi Pui Co
Also known as Doi Pui, is located at Ban Umda Nuea, Mae Khaotwan Subdistrict, Sop Moei District, Mae Hong Son Province. It’s renowned as a land of golden grasslands, offering stunning views and a sea of mist. You can enjoy a full 360-degree panorama, witnessing both sunrise and sunset. At night, the sky is lit up with stars.
The trek to Doi Pui Ko is relatively short, about 3 kilometers, and it takes less than an hour to reach the summit. There may be some slightly steep sections, but overall it’s an easy hike. Once you reach the top and see the breathtaking natural beauty, you’ll feel the walk was very comfortable. The best time to visit is from January to February, as this is when you can see the beautiful golden grasslands.
4. Sutongpe Bridge
Beautifully simple in its construction. The bamboo bridge stretches for 500 metres across rice fields and the Mae Sa Nga River. It serves as a link the temple at one end with the village of Kung Mai Saak at the other. Located about 8km north of Mae Hong Song capital.
5. Tea Plantation Ban Rak Thai
Ban Rak Thai is considered another ecotourism village with beautiful nature. In the middle of the village, there is a large lake. Tourists visiting can experience the way of life and culture of the Hô or Yunnan Chinese, including inheriting many traditions of the Hô people, such as spoken and written language, clothing, and houses built from clay mixed with rice straw.
6. Tham Pla – Pha Suea Waterfall
The Tham Pla National Park, Pha Suea Waterfall, covers an area of approximately 305,000 rai. The geography is a continuous range of undulating hills extending to the Thai-Myanmar border in the north. The terrain adjoining the forest line in Myanmar results in a highly fertile forest, which is a source of many streams, leading to several famous waterfalls that are popular tourist attractions.
7. Bua Tong Fields at Doi Mae U-Kho
The Thung Bua Tong (Mexican Sunflower) fields on Doi Mae U-Kho bloom splendidly in vibrant yellow, covering the hills over an area of more than 500 rai at an altitude of approximately 1,600 meters above sea level. They bloom from mid-November to December.
The complex mountainous terrain resembling sea waves, coupled with the absence of large trees in the surrounding area, allows for a 360-degree panoramic view. It is a significant landmark and a popular photography destination in Mae Hong Son province.
8. Huai Nam Dang National Park
The area spans Mae Taeng District, Wiang Haeng District in Chiang Mai Province, and Pai District in Mae Hong Son Province. It boasts lush forests and natural beauty, with high and complex mountain ranges serving as sources for many streams.
Notable natural highlights include beautiful landscapes and scenic viewpoints, offering a serene atmosphere. A particularly famous spot is Huai Nam Dang, known for its stunning sea of mist, making it one of Thailand’s renowned natural attractions.
9. Yun Lai Viewpoint
The Yun Lai viewpoint is located on the same route as Santichon Village. From Pai town, pass Wat Nam Hoo and continue towards Santichon Village. Near the end of the road past the village, if you’re not staying at a viewpoint accommodation, or visiting during the busy winter season when many tourists are present, you should park your vehicle in the parking area opposite Santichon Village and use the local pickup truck service.
Personal vehicles are not allowed due to the narrow road and limited parking space. The round-trip fare is 300 baht, and the truck can accommodate up to 6 people. The best time to visit the viewpoint and see the sea of mist is early morning, around 6 to 7 AM.
10. Sai Ngam Hot Spring
The Sai Ngam Hot Springs is located in Mae Na Toeng, approximately 15 kilometers away from Pai town on Route 1095. These are natural hot springs with water temperatures around 30-32 degrees Celsius. Surrounded by lush greenery, the springs feature small pools of clear, green water where you can see the rocks and sand below.
The water isn’t very deep, making it an ideal place for tourists to soak and relax in the warm water, closely connected to nature. Unlike other geysers or hot springs that shoot water up, the Sai Ngam Hot Springs are naturally occurring and provide a serene environment for visitors to enjoy the warm waters bubbling up from the earth.