I couldn’t have been more excited when I was invited by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mae Hong Son, to visit Mae Hong Son and Mae Sariang. Chiang Mai born and bred, I am ashamed to say that I have never been to this part of the north and now that I have, I must admit that I am pretty blown away by it all. Mae Hong Son is such an undiscovered part of the country, one filled with breathtaking beauty, rich and diverse culture and so much yet to explore.
We media gathered early in the morning and drove for about three hours along the Chiang Mai-Hod-Mae Sariang road before reaching Mae Sariang by 11am one fine morning. We were immediately herded to Ran Pen Moo Tub, a top hit restaurant which lived up to its reputation. The grilled pork was pulverised by a mallet before being cut and served with a spicy jaew chili dip. This was all the energy we required to see us through all the sightseeing to come.
Mae Sariang, while a small town, had its very unique and fascinating characteristics – its buidings heavily influenced by Burmese design aesthetics and architecture, its houses made of wood and retaining their old world charm.
Firstly, and in true Thai style, we visited the four most revered temples, each located on another hilltop surrounding the town; Phra That Chom Kitti, Phra That Chom Mon, Phra That Chom Chaeng and Phra That Chom Thong.
We were lucky that we visited the day before the end of lent, an occasion which is celebrated by nearly every household in Mae Sariang which hang lanterns and colourful decorations on doorways or on the streets of this sleepy town, offering a festive air which was unexpected.
That night we slumbered peacefully at the River House Resort which had a lovely deck overlooking the Yuam River.
The next day we drove an hour and a half to Mae La Noi to visit Huay Hom village, a charming village which produces aromatic coffee and lamb wool textiles. It was hard to find the will to leave the Mae Yay Coffee & Homestay Huayhom, a spectacular coffee shop with views to weep over.
After being torn away from the fine cool mountain airs and hot fresh coffee, we found ourselves in the Lawa village of La-Oop where we not only got to sample, but learn about their very distinctive cuisine.
With this Insta-crowd, TAT made us all very happy by taking us to the famous Doi Khum Kham viewpoint from where we gazed down at a sea of mist as it swirled through the lush green of the forests below, revealing a rooftop here and a bright burst of yellow flowers there.
Our home for the night was the Hern Tai Resort set in the middle of a paddy field where we spent many hours singing and chatting around the camp fire.
Sadly time was running out and while we wanted to continue our exploration of Mae Hong Son, we had to return home, sopping off at Wat Tham Phra to pay our respects and frankly send off a prayer of gratitude, before returning back to Chiang Mai.
Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mae Hong Son, went above and beyond in taking care of we media, making sure we had all the information we needed and experienced things which frankly didn’t take any effort to write about. This is the time of the year to visit Mae Hong Son and if you haven’t been, or it’s been a while, just go, there is so much to explore. It is glorious.
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