Mae Hong Son is nestled in a deep valley hemmed in by high mountain ranges, Mae Hong Son has long been isolated from the outside world. Virtually covered with mist throughout the year, the name refers to the fact that is terrain is highly suitable for the training of elephants.
Former governors of Chiang Mai used to organize the rounding up of wild elephants which were then trained before being sent to the capital for work. Today, Mae Hong Son is one of the dream destinations for visitors. Daily flights into its small airport bring growing numbers of tourists, attracted by the spectacular scenery, numerous hill tribe communities and soft adventure opportunities.
Chiang mai closes to the borders north East and the the west of Myanmar, boundary to Chiang Mai by south.
Distance of driving of
This is annually held in February to promote tea products of the Rak Thai village. The activities include hot tea tasting, tea-making demonstrations combined with cultural shows. Visitors can also enjoy riding a horse around the village.
Poi Sang Long
Poi Sang Long When: March and early April
Where: Wat Hua Wiang, Amphoe Mueang
This is the celebration of novice ordination which the Thai Yai tribal people hold to be a highly meritorious occasion. Traditionally, the candidate-novice, his head cleanly shaven and wrapped with head-cloth in the Burmese style, will don a prince-like garment, put on valuable jewels and gems and ride a horse or be carried over the shoulders of a male relative to the city shrine.
Then he will visit Abbots of various Wats to beg for forgiveness. On the eve of ordination, a procession of offerings and other necessary personal belongings will be paraded through the town streets and then placed at the next day. It is usually held between March and May before the Buddhist Rain Retreat period. Today the tribesmen are encouraged to hold several processions at the same time with the result that they have become a major tourist attraction.
Chong Para Procession
Where: Wat Pra That Doi Kong Mu, Amphoe Mueang
The "Chong Para" in the Thai Yai dialect means a castle made of wood, covered with colorful perforated papers and decorate with fruits, flags and lamps. It is placed in the courtyard of a house or a monastery as a gesture to welcome the Lord Buddha on his return from giving sermons to his mother in heaven, according to traditional belief. The rite is held during the post-Rain Retreat season from the full moon day of the 11 the Lunar month to the waxing moon night of the same month. Another activity to celebrate the occasion is dancing in which the performers are dressed in animal costumes. This is based on the belief that during those long-gone days, both humans and the animal kingdom were equally joyful at the return of the Lord Buddha and joined together in a jubilant performance as a tribute to the Enlightened One.
Bua Tong Blossom Festival
Bua Tong Blossom Festival
Where: Doi Mae U-Kho, Amphoe Khun Yuam
Each year in November, the hillsides of Amphoe Khun Yuam and Amphoe Mae Sariang are filled with a host of golden Bua Tong blooms. As fresh as daisies and almost as large as sunflowers, the Bua Tong only blossoms for 15 days, a fine reason for Mae Hong Son province to hold the Bua Tong Blossom Festival over this period at Amphoe Khun Yuam. At Amphoe Khun Yuam's Doi Mae U-Kho, the blossoms appear in profusion. Specialists previously classified these Bua Tong as weeds and because of this, they began to be cleared to make way for cash crops. Fortunately, researchers have discovered the flower's insect-repellent properties. Perhaps for this reason, rather than our enjoyment, they are now a secure part of the annual scene? Whatever, Bua Tong, a symbol of Mae Hong Son, is here to stay on the hillsides.
Loi Krathong Festival
Where: Wat Pra That Doi Kong Mu, Amphoe Mueang
Loi Krathong Festival is held on the full moon night in the month of November every year. Villagers make 'Krathongs' to float in rivers. At Nong Chong Kham, various entertainments and a contest of large krathongs are held near the central pond. Lamps and candles are lit all around the area. At Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, there is a ceremony to release candle-lit krathongs bound to balloons (known as "Loi Krathong Swan") to the evening sky.
Peaceful days in Pai
Small northern town a refreshing hub for fans of trekking, caves and hot springs.
From Ron Emmons, Bangkok Post
Looking for somewhere to really relax in Thailand? Somewhere easy to get to, but at the same time away from it all? Try Pai.
This little town, snuggled in a picturesque valley between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son in the North, has a peaceful atmosphere that soothes away the stresses of city life, as well as offering plenty of adventurous options like trekking and caving to satisfy restless urges.
Since the town does not appear on the itineraries of any of the big tour companies, visitors are guaranteed an escape from the tourist hordes. In short, Pai offers a bucolic experience from which few are keen to emerge.
Pai is not accessible by plane, but in fact the journey by road from Chiang Mai is one of the greatest reasons for going there. Pai is situated almost 140 kilometers along the road to Mae Hong Son, and the route over the hills offers some of the most attractive scenery in the North. Several buses leave Chiang Mai each day and cover the journey in about four hours, but hiring a jeep, car or motorbike cuts traveling time down to less than three hours, and allows visitors to stop wherever they like as well as make intriguing detours. Rental prices for jeeps and cars start at about 800 Baht a day, while motorbikes can be as little as 100 Baht.
The route from Chiang Mai to Pai follows Highway 107 north for about 35 km to Mae Malai, from where Highway 1095 turns left and heads for the hills. Just 18 km along this road, a left turn leads just two kilometers to Mok Fah waterfall, one of many intriguing diversions along the way.
A short walk from the parking area leads through a pretty bamboo grove to the plume of white water, which tumbles about 30 metros down a cliff face and into a shallow pool bordered by a sandy beach. This is an ideal place for a picnic and a cooling dip in the pool, with a thundering massage beneath the cascade for those who dare.
After the falls, the road soars and swoops into the hills, its countless bends bringing increasingly spectacular views across misty mountain ridges.
The hillsides are heavily wooded with stands of bamboo and pine. After crossing a ridge at 1,300 metros, the road descends steeply into the Pai Valley, where wooden houses and paddy fields typify Thai rural scenery.
Travelers heading on through to Mae Hong Son might be forgiven for not even noticing Pai, which is so small it only takes a minute to drive through. The main road is often empty and the buildings are an unimpressive mixture of traditional wood and modern concrete.
Yet in the back streets and along the banks of the River Pai there is a range of accommodation to suit all tastes, some coy restaurants with extensive menus, and an ethnic diversity among the people that gives the place an almost cosmopolitan feel.
Brightly dressed hill people of the Lisu, Lahu and Karen tribes mingle with Thais, shrouded Muslim girls and the few foreigners who find their way here.
Temples Worth Exploring
As with most Thai towns, the temple compounds are worth exploring. One example is Wat Klang, near the bus station, which has curious elfin characters on its gateposts and a wooden viharn (main temple building) raised on stilts.
Most temples in town have multi-tiered roofs with elaborately carved eaves, showing the architectural influence of nearby Burma.
The best-known temple in the area is Wat Phra That Mae Yen, which sits on a hillside across the river to the east of town. A steep stairway leads up to a sweeping view across the valley, a quiet temple compound and carvings depicting scenes from the life of Lord Buddha as well as local village life on the solid wooden doors of the small viharn.
Despite its atmospheric temples, Pai's main attractions are not in town but in the surrounding countryside. Walking in any direction for five minutes is enough to yield views of patchwork fields hemmed in by heavily wooded slopes.
Birds, butterflies, spiders and snakes abound, while flying s and squirrels might be spotted in the woods.
Natural attractions near town are Mob Paeng Falls (7 km west), Tha Pai hot springs (7 km southeast) and Mae Yen waterfall (11 km east); the route to the latter crisscrosses a sparkling stream that runs into the Pai River. Though such walks allow total freedom of choice in what to do and when, many visitors choose to spend a few days trekking with a guide in the hills, passing the nights in hill-tribe villages. A typical trek lasts three days, though some are longer or shorter, and prices are less than 500 Baht per day.
The misshapen limestone hills west of Pai house some of Southeast Asia's largest caves; among them Tham Lod near Soppong, 43km along Highway 1095 toward Mae Hong Son.
The Lang River flows into the entrance and continues right through the mountain, emerging some 600 metros away.
Inside the entrance, when eyes have adjusted to the dim light, the vastness of the cavern with its enormous stalactites and stalagmites becomes apparent. It is possible to pass right through the cave with the help of a guide, though it requires either wading through the river or hiring a bamboo raft. An intriguing feature of the cave are the remains of coffins situated near the exit which were hollowed out of tree trunks and are believed to be over 1,000 years old.
Relief for the weary
Inevitably, some visitors come hobbling back into Pai with weary limbs after the rigors of caving or trekking, but help is at hand. A couple of places offer a herbal steam bath followed by a traditional massage at very reasonable prices.
The heat of the steam bath loosens the muscles and herbs such as lemongrass have a relaxing effect on the nervous system. Massage concentrates on pressure points where tension accumulates, and after a session most people feel revitalized. Of course, it is not necessary to be suffering from aches and pains to feel the benefits of a massage.
On the return trip to Chiang Mai there are a couple of detours that lead to further natural wonders of the North.
The first of these is Huay Nam Dang, situated on top of the ridge of hills. Just after the Km 66 marker on Highway 1095, a left turn leads six kilometers to the headquarters of the national park. A viewpoint looks out over one of the best views of the North, which on a clear day includes Chiang Dao, Thailand's third-highest mountain at 2,175 metros. This spot is particularly popular at dawn in the cool season, when a spectacular sea of mist collects in the valley below' Another left turn and a six-kilometer drive at Km 42 follows a roller-coaster ride to Pong Duat hot springs, which are much more impressive than those near Pai. Here water erupts from geysers in a small stream, creating clouds of steam in the woodland. Though the water is too hot to bathe in here, a few hundred yards downstream is a series of pools that provide visitors with the chance to bathe in the open air at the temperature of their choice.
There can be few memories of Thailand more pleasant than the feeling of therapeutic waters washing over the body, the sound of birds singing in the trees and the view of lush plant life all round.