Mae Hong Son is a province up in the North of Thailand, known to have thousands and thousands of curves climbing up the mountain. It’s a bit colder up North on these mountains, which is good for when the heat becomes too much.
Top 5 Places to Visit in Mae Hong Son
- Tham Lot Cave
- Huay Nam Dang National Park
- Ban Rak Thai Village
- Pang Ung Reservoir
MHS is not a popular destination but there are many tourists and people are falling in love with it. The reason is because Mae Hong Son houses such an amazing place like Pai, which people think it’s another big city in Thailand. It isn’t. It’s just a small fun town hiding in between the valley.
I. What to do in Pai?
- Ride the curves
- Enjoy the Walking Street
- 6.00 p.m. – 10.00 p.m.
- Trek the Pai Canyon
- Cross the Memorial Bridge
- Relax at Tha Pai Hot Springs
Just within Pai alone, there are already so many things to do and see. Firstly, expert drivers will enjoy the road around Pai, especially bikers as it’s very challenging with all the sharp curves and steep hills. Don’t worry if you can’t drive or if your skill is not there yet, because there are many public transportation services taking you in and out of Pai.
The best street in Pai is the Pai Walking Street because there is everything. There are cheap food, bars, pubs, karaokes, restaurants, cafes, souvenirs shops and more. There are always a lot of people, selling interesting ideas and designs. This is an opportunity for you to absorb the culture, because there is live street music in different languages mainly Thai and English. There are also mini shows of Thai music and dances. It always has a very groovy mood here.
But if you want more excitement, definitely visit the Pai Canyon or Kong Lan. It’s good for trekking as there are narrow and elevated paths of different sizes and heights. There is no actual safety and the time you might end up spending there is around 3 hours so definitely bring a bottle of water. There is a small Pembok Waterfall in the area as well.
If you want a bit of an edgy vibe then check out the Pai Memorial Bridge. You are allowed to explore as much as you want on foot, which is a must as the wooden floorboards with gaps and holes are very interesting and also look great in pictures. There are bamboo rafting services taking you along the river as well.
Lastly for Pai, you should go to Tha Pai Hot Springs and relax there for few hours as there are many ponds filled with natural mineral water. These ponds have different temperatures for all preferences. There are also beautiful walking paths, with views of clear water and trees. However, if you want a bit of privacy, there are several private spas nearby too.
II. Tham Lot Cave
About 20 minutes driving from Pai, there is Tham Lot Cave. It’s a cave system with loads of stalactites and stalagmites in different shapes and forms. They also create rooms and halls for this cave system.
To explore the cave, there are local guides that will take you into the cave using bamboo rafts. You’ll be flowing along Nam Lang River that is filled with schools of Mahseer fish. They genuinely paint the river pitch black. You’ll also be welcomed by the distinct smell of bats and you’ll spot them if you look up to the ceiling of the cave.
The guide will also show you around the cave system and you’ll be able to spot some evidences of settlement like potteries and teakwood coffins in various spots as the cave used to house cave-dwelling prehistoric tribespeople from over thousand years ago.
III. Huay Nam Dang National Park
- Sea of Fog
- Doi Chang
- Doi Kio Lom
- Huay Nam Dang
- Mae Yen
- Hot Springs
- Pong Dueat Pa Pae
Huay Nam Dang National Park is massive and it lies between 2 provinces; Chiang Mai and MHS. There are several facilities and camping areas throughout the park, including Lom Doi and Hill Pine Camp.
The best time to visit Huay Nam Dang is during winter as you’ll be able to witness the Frost Flowers and the Sea of Fog during a cold, early dawn. To get the most epic view of the Sea of Fog, you’ll have to be above them, so Doi Chang and Doi Kio Lom are best viewpoints. They are also great to watch the sun rising behind these mountains’ peaks.
Within the area of the park there are several waterfalls, but the one that you shouldn’t miss is the Huay Nam Dang Waterfalls. There are a total of 4 levels, waiting for you to explore.
Mae Yen Waterfalls is also great, especially if you want a bit of adrenalin. Here, you could enjoy a 4 hours of white water rafting, which the starting point is at the Ban Bang Pa Kha and you’ll finish at the Ban Sap Kai.
However, when the weather becomes too cold, you could always stop by the Pong Dueat Pa Pae Hot Springs. There are 4 big pools for you to relax and pamper yourself.
IV. Ban Rak Thai Village (Mae Aw)
Ban Rak Thai Village holds many history. Firstly, it was settled by a Chinese Nationalist, which explains why there are so many evidences of Chinese culture, including the people, architecture and food. There are many tea plantations and various types of Chinese tea for you to try, while relaxing at the lakeside. There are also many local shops that sell dried fruits and wine because there are few breweries in the village.
This village also used to be the controlling point for jade trading and army camp. There are evidences of these history throughout the village, which can be explored by walking as it’s only a tiny village with a lake in the middle.
There are several homestays and camping areas, with great viewpoints for those who want to spend the night, watching stars and learn more about the Thai – Yunnan culture.
V. Pang Ung Reservoir
Not far from Ban Rak Thai Village, Pang Ung has one of the best campsites in Thailand. It used to be an opium plantation ground of hill tribes, which later turned into a Royal Project aiming to help those people by convincing them to switch to other plantation, like coffee.
The campsite is in the middle of pine forest by the water reservoir. There are many things to do and see here, such as admiring the misty morning, bamboo rafting by the lake, stargazing at night, horse riding, feeding the royal black swans, purchasing local products and trekking to the Nam Yot Cliff.