If you are on time, on your route through northern Thailand you should not miss a visit to the city of Mae Hong Son . Located in the northwest of the country , this city of just 6,000 inhabitants rests quietly among wooded mountain ranges that color the area with many greens (almost 90% of the forest reserves of Thailand are in this province) and create an idyllic environment to rest legs after walks in Chiang Mai.
Mae Hong Son, a province on the border with Burma, is somewhat far from the typical tourist route , and it is appreciated, because upon arrival one finds a more authentic climate and less farang . Not all are guesthouses or western food restaurants, and contrary to what can happen in places like Pai or Chiang Mai, you can see more Thais than foreigners on the street.
Mae Hong Son is known among travelers for being the right place to settle to visit the villages of the Long Neck Karen, or giraffe women. However, we, who had visited the Museum of the Tribes in Chiang Rai and had read information about these villages (in our opinion little more than human zoos) are not going to promote this activity nor do we want to encourage the traveler to visit these places. We recommend that you read and learn about the situation of these people before visiting a Karen village.
From Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son is reached after 6 hours by van or 8 hours by local bus .A long tour full of curves that will test the stomach of travelers. Many of them choose, however, to make a stop in Pai , a beautiful backpacker and hippie enclave halfway there.
Visit the temples of the city
The Mae Hong Son temples are different from what you will see anywhere else in Thailand. The Shan and Burmese influence has drawn colorful and bright temples, with a different and curious architecture. The Wat Jong Kham and the Wat Jong Klan are especially recommended , due to their location on the shores of the lake, and of course the WatPhraThatDoi Kong Mu, to the west of the city, which, located on top of a hill, offers some beautiful photographs of the city and the surrounding valleys, as well as offering beautiful views of the sunrise (some days the fog covers the whole city and is spectacular) and the sunset, on the other side of the mountain.
Visit the markets
During the high season, a large market is set up every night around the lake , the tourist epicenter of the city. During the low season you can hardly visit a few stalls, and it is hard to say that it is worth it. However, a gastronomic market of greater interest can be visited in the middle of the afternoon north of the city, in ThanonPhanitWattana. There you can eat all kinds of local food and enjoy a fairly pure Thai atmosphere.