MAE HONG SON ATTRACTIONS
MAE HONG SON ATTRACTIONS Lying to the west of Chiang Mai and bordering Myanmar on itseastern flank, Mae Hong Son province covers an area of 12,681sq. km. of breathtaking mountains traversed by hidden valleys, each one a contender for Shangri-la.
With stunning landscapes, waterfalls, caves and hilltribe vil- lages it is a dream location for trekking, soft adventure travel and for those who love wild hill country and seek the thrill of sweeping valley vistas.
Because of the terrain, Mae Hong Son is one of Thailand’s most remote provinces and thus retains its own separate identity. At the same time, the provincial capital is readily accessible by air and road. Nestled in its own lovely valley and surrounded by hills that are often shrouded in early morning mist, this small town is one of the most enchanting places in the entire North. Burmese-style temples, a picturesque lake, a hilltop vantage point and a bustling morning market afford scope for leisurely sights-seeing, while a choice of hotels makes it an excellent base for excursions into the surrounding countryside.
WAT PHARTHAT DOI KONG MU
Atop the hill to the west of town, the temple is distinguished by its two Burmese-style Chedi, the larger one built in 10 and the smaller in 14. The site also commands superb panoramic views of Mae Hong Son and the surrounding hills.
WAT PHRA NON
This temple at the foot of Doi Kong Mu houses a 12-metre long Reclining Buddha cast in the Thai Yai (Shan) style in 15. Also notable are the two large sculpted lions standing side by side, guarding the way up to Doi Kong Mu.
WAT KAM KO
Located opposite Wat Phra Non, this temple dates from 10 and is architecturally distinguished by its roofed passageway from the entrance to the Burmese-style Wihan. It also stores texts in Thai Yai script chronicling their history.
WAT HUA WIANG
Also known as Wat Klang Mueang, the temple is located on Sihanat Bamrung Road next to the Morning Market. It was built in 13 and enshrines the beautifully adorned Phra Chao Pharalakhaeng Buddha image, a replica of a statue in Mandalay, Myanmar.
WAT CHONG KHAM
Situated close to the banks of the town’s small Chong Kham Lake, the temple was built in 1827 by Thai Yai artisans and houses a large Buddha statue with a lap width of 4.85 metrescast by Burmese craftsmen.
WAT CHONG KLANG
Next to the previous temple, Wat Chong Klang is interesting for its replica of the Phra Buddha Sihing Buddha image; its wooden figurines of humans and animals depicted in the PhraVejsandon, Jakata tale, which were made by Burmese craftsmen and brought to Mae Hong Son in 1857, and 100-year-old glass paintings.
PHA BONG HOT SPRING
Located on Highway 108, about 11 km. from town, the spring has facilities for mineral water bathing.
THAM PLA – PHA SUEA NATIONAL PARK
About 17 km. from town on Highway 1095 (Mae Hong Son-Pai Road) the park is a pleasant area of streams and woodland. Aspecial feature is a cave pond filled with carp-like Phluang fish,believed to belong to the gods.
NAMTOK PHA SUEA
These large falls are located in Tambon Mok Champae, about 17 km. from town on Highway 1095, then a left turn at Ban Rak Thai and a further 20 km. beyond the village. Another 5 km. away are the hilltribe villages of Na Pa Paek and Mae O on the Thai-Myanmar border.
THAM NAM LOT
In a forest area in Pang Mapha district, 77km. from town, the main attraction is a 1-km-long cave with a stream running through it and beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations.Also discovered here were 2,000-year-old remains of utensils and coffins.
RIVER RAFTING ON THE PAI RIVER
The Pai River is the longest river of Mae Hong Son, originatingfrom mountain ranges in Laos to flow through Pai district andeventually join the Salween river in Myanmar, a total distance of 180 km. Several sectors are suitable for rafting and trips are organised by tour operators in Mae Hong Son town or in Pai. The best time for rafting is from October to March.
HUAI NAM DANG NATIONAL PARK
At KM 65 on the Pai-Mae Malai road (Highway 1095) is a turn leading to the headquarters of the park. Visitors can spend the night in tents to wait for the spectacular views of sunrise and mist-shrouded mountain views in the morning. Cherry blos- soms during January adds charm to the attraction.
THA PAI HOT SPRINGS
Located 2 km. off Highway 1095 at KM 87 , the spring has an average temperature of 80 degrees Celsius. Steam from the spring permeates the area in the morning creating a fascinating sight.
KHUN YUAM INDIGENOUS CULTURAL CENTER
Located at KM 200 on Highway 108, the centre has a consider- able collection of Thai Yai and other hilltribe handicrafts. It also displays military accessories and equipment of the Japanese army which entered Khun Yuam district during World War II.
THUNG BUA TONG
These wild sunflowers bloom during November and carpet thelandscape of Doi Mae U-kho in Khun Yuam district with bril- liant yellow.
SALAWIN NATIONAL PARK
Covering an area of 721 sq. km., the park is on the banks of the Salween river on the Thai-Myanmar border, about 14 km. south of Mae Hong Son town. Transport can be hired for travel to Mae Sam Laep village (46 km.) and then by boat to reach the park headquarters. The scenery is of forested mountains dotted with small hamlets.
Pai, located 111 km. from Mae Hong Son, is a quiet, relaxed little town set amid superb scenery and popular as a base for exploring the natural attractions of the area.
MAE HONG SON SPECIAL EVENTS
POI SAN LONG PROCESSION
This is a traditional Thai Yai mass ordination ceremony for novice monks in which the candidates, with their heads shaven and wrapped with Burmese-style head-cloth, don prince-like garments and jewels, and are taken on horseback or carried on shoulders to the city shrine.
CHONG PHARA PROCESSION
Chong Phara are model castles made of wood and colouredpaper and decorated with fruits, flags and lamps. On thefull-moon day of the 11th lunar month these are placed in the courtyard of houses and temples as a gesture to welcome the Lord Buddha on his return from giving sermons to his mother in heaven, according to traditional belief. Other activities to celebrate the occasion include dances with performers dressed in animal costumes.
In addition to traditional Loi Krathong celebrations around Chong Kham Lake, candle-lit krathong suspended from bal- loons are released at Wat Phrathat Doi Kong Mu.
BUA TONG BLOSSOM FESTIVAL
Each year in November, the hilltribes of Khun Yuam and MaeSariang districts are filled with a host of golden Bua Tongblossoms. They are as yellow as daisies and almost as large assunflowers. At Doi Mae U-kho, the blossoms are profuse, butonly last for a month.