Mae Hong Son Tourist Attractions
The principal attraction of Mae Hong Son township, high in the mountains of northern Thailand on the Burmese border, lies in the rugged scenery and dense forests of its mist-shrouded valley, but it has another, more sinister claim to fame, which the Thai government would rather forget, and that is its proximity to the "Golden Triangle". As the authorities have increasingly clamped down on the opium growing and drug dealing in Chiang Rai's part of the "Golden Triangle" so the smugglers and dealers have turned to new routes in the mountainous frontier country behind Mae Hong Son.By car: Highway 107 north from Chiang Mai, turning onto Highway 1095 before Mae Taeng (130 km (81 mi.)); Highway 108 from Mae Sarieng (about 170 km (106 mi.)). Anyone who appreciates breathtaking scenery should follow the rather more difficult "horseshoe route", 380 km (236 mi.), from Chiang Mai via Hot and Mae Sarieng.By bus: a 7-8 hour journey from Chiang Mai.By air: 2 or 3 times a day from Chiang Mai (flights last about 30 minutes).The mountain scenery around Mae Hong Son is among the most beautiful in Thailand, as already becomes evident on the way there. Mae Hong Son is a good base for trekking and rafting, whether for one or more days on an organized trip or as an individual.The town is also a good place to see people from the hill tribes, especially when they come in for the daily market in the early morning between 5.30 and 8am. Meo, Karen, Lawa, Lisu and Lahu all sell their handicrafts there, along with locally-grown produce - fruit and vegetables, tobacco, betel nuts, etc.
Buat Luk Khaeo Festival
The Buat Luk Khaeo Festival, when young boys between 10 and 13 are ordained as novice monks ("nakh"), is celebrated here, where it is called Poy Sang Long, with more colorful ceremony than anywhere else in Thailand. It takes place in Wat Chong Kham at the beginning of April every year. Their youth means that the novices do not have to observe all the strictest ordinances, but the three-day ceremony traditionally begins with them having their heads shaved in the house of the richest lad on the first day. On the second day they receive presents, then on the third day they set aside their ornate costumes of the first two days and receive the saffron habit of the monk. On the first day a sight particularly worth seeing is when the youngsters are borne on the shoulders of a swaying procession into the temple.
Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu
It takes half an hour from the western edge of Mae Hong Son to climb the 250 m (820 ft) Doi Kong Mu to the hilltop monastery of Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, with two Burmese chedis that can be seen lit up at night from down in the town. The ascent is quite an experience; in the middle of the forest, two enormous stone lions, in the Burmese style, guard the foot of the overgrown staircase covering the last few feet to the top. There are fine views over the town and the countryside.
Map of Mae Hong Son Attractions