Mae Hong Son, Thailand's northern border city, hiding itself in between the towering mountains with densely forested slopes, stretching to the Burmese border. With its remote setting and surrounding mountains, Mae Hong Son fits many travellers’ preconceived notion of how a northern Thai city should be. Maehongson is known for its charm of scenery and culture. The people of Maehongson consists of the Shans who live in the city and the hilltribe people who live in remote villages on mountain tops where elements of lifestyle have changed little in hundreds of years.
Daily flights into Mae Hong Son’s small airport bring growing numbers of tourists, attracted by the spectacular scenery, numerous hill tribe communities, and soft adventure opportunities.
For those familiar with the name, Mae Hong Son conjures fantastic images of rugged, mist enshrouded mountains where isolated tribal villages await exploration. From the fascinating culture of the indigenous tribal communities to the spectacular natural beauty of the countryside, Mae Hong Son is certainly a dream-come-true destination for many visitors.
Nestled in a deep valley hemmed in by high mountain ranges, Mae Hong Son town has long been isolated from the outside world. Virtually covered with mist throughout the year, Mae Hong Son was once only accessible via harrowing, windy, narrow roads that took most of a day to traverse, an adventurous drive that made the town that much more alluring.
The name of Mae Hong Son refers to the fact that its terrain is highly suitable for the training of elephants. In fact, former governors of Chiang Mai used to organize the rounding up of wild elephants which were then trained in Mae Hong Son before being sent to the capital for work. Elephants remain an important part of the local culture, and elephant trekking is a popular tourist activity, often combined with overnight hill tribe home stays and river rafting.
Mae Hong Son is a fascinating province of Burmese and Lanna style temples, hot springs, hill tribe villages, trekking, rafting, national parks, and even an annual reggae festival. In addition to a charming capital in Mae Hong Son town, the town of Pai is also a traveler favorite; many people come to Mae Hong Son and Pai to experience the natural beauty of northern Thailand or witness one of the many festivals that are celebrated in Mae Hong Son, especially the annual novice ordination ceremony for young men declaring their intentions to become Buddhist monks.