ATTEND A FUNERAL
Not quite sure where to put this tip but while staying at Cave Lodge just near the entrance to Tham Lod, near Soppong we had the opportunity to attend a funeral at a monastery. The funeral was for an important Shan leader. The Shan is a word used by westerners but they refer to themselves as "TAI" and reside in Northern Thailand, Eastern Myanmar and Southern China. Thais refer to the group who live in Northern Thailand as Thai Yai, meaning Big Thai.
The funerals normally take place 7 days after death and as in the rest of Thailand they are cremated. Buddhist monks take charge of the ceremony as the Shan believe that only monks can transfer the merit from the living to the dead.
The locals turned out in their hundreds from the surrounding villages to witness the Buddhist monks perform the ceremony and afterwards there was a feast.
Early Morning Market and Monks Alms
If you can brave waking up at 5am then a visit to the early morning market is highly recommended. This is a great insight into how the locals live, its a colourful and vibrant affair where you can try all kinds of local produce and pick up a local breakfast. Also, at this time you will see the brightly coloured oranged robed monks walking the streets on ther daily alms, and observe locals making offerings to them.
Ban Ruam Thai - The Switzerland of Thailand
30km from Mae Hong Son town is the picturesque village of 'Ban Ruam Thai' sometimes called the 'Switzerland of Thailand' because of its charming panoramic views of the lakes and mountains. Here you can stay at Ban Ruam Thai Guesthouse run by Mr Pala a former Karen army officer. The guesthouse has a cute and cosy feel to it, stay in your own bamboo hut and visit Mr Pala's garden where he grows and produces his own coffee. It is in a very rural location so there is no running electricity but plenty of candlelight, delicious home cooked Thai and Shan food and beautiful views. The winter months provide a romantic feel when the lake is smothered in an early morning fog and mist a surprising discovery which visitors do not expect to find in tropical Thailand. During warmer months you can also camp by the lake.
Garden of Mae Hong Song
Rent a bike and ask the operator to lend you rain coat, fill in your tank full and head south, route 108, Start early and you will enjoy the morning breeze and sun. The journey will take about 11/2 - 2 hours depend your speed. If you run out of petrol ask the local where you can find the services, usually they operate from sundry shop. This route is a winding route, up and down hill. If you plan of going there plan it in mid-November to mid-December. And there is the mid- November Bua Tong Festival. Wild Sunflower Blooming Season. In Doi Mae U-Kho you will witness more than a thousand Rai of bright yellow Sunflowers. Then further up you come to the Hmong and Karen village, where there are vegetables plantation and further down 30 km you come to Mae Surin Waterfalls. If you plan to visit for the full day, it worth all your day. From this route you can also go to Mae Sariang district. I missed the Sunflower because I went there to early by 1 week or maybe 10 days
- Adventure Travel
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Wat Chong Kham
This is a master piece by Tai Yai Artisan from Burmese Style architecture . The most distinguish art is the seven-layer pyatthat (multi-tiered spire) and you can find many of this pyatthat design house in the town center but with only three layers, that's the normal home of the Tai Yai . Wat Chong Kham was built in 1827 by the Shan ruler Phaya Singhanataraj,. Most of the travelers to Mae Hong Song stay around this Wat just beside the famost Lake Nong Chong Kham. The most biggest festival at this wat is the Loi Krathong and Mae Hong Song produce its own design and popular Loi Krathong Sawan" wich held every year on 15th full moon of the chinese 11 calender month.
- Arts and Culture
- Family Travel
Several outfits can arrange tours to see the longnecks (Padaung people , part of the Karen ) who are refugees from Burma that escaped across the border. Up to you whether you go or not, but it is Thai entrepreneurs who set up the villages and taking advantage of the longnecks by making a handsome profit. If the women are accused of adultery they may have some rings removed as punishment, then the neck will collapse and most likely they will die.
Ban Rak Thai / Mae Aw - Old Chinese Village
A 10 minute drive from Ban Ruam Thai takes you to the Chinese villlage of Mae Aw where historically the Kuomintang fled from Communist rule in China in the 1950s. Most of Mae Aw's inhabitants are descendents of Kuomintang soldiers and until today you can see the remnants of the Chinese occupation here. Most of the village is made of earth houses, resembling the style of old villages in Southern China. Here is the place to try traditional Chinese Yunnanese food, browse the numerous Chinese teas and wares for sale and take a mule ride around the village which lies just 2km from the Thailand/Myanmar border.
Sunset at Wat Doi Gong Mu
As with many hilltop temples in Thailand, I think the best time to visit Wat Doi Gong Mu is at sunset. At Wat Doi Gong Mu there is a great view next to the little coffee shop with a terrace there where you can look out over the mountain range landscape and see thesunset behind the mountains. The temperature is also much cooler than the heat of the afternoon, and there are always less tourists/Thais about at this time of day, so is a perfect setting for a peaceful sunset.
Traditional Shan Village
Visit the traditional Shan Village of 'Ban Phang Mu' just a few minutes drive out of Mae Hong Son town. Walking around this village you will really get a feel for what a traditional village is like, there is a certain 'timelessness' to it. This is also an OTOP (one tambon one product) village, OTOP is scheme by the Thai government to help local villages produce and sell their products. Ban Phang Mu is famous for producing sesame, you can visit a family run sesame factory here where they still use old techniques to process sesame. They still use a buffalo to grind the sesame, and they will even let you try riding their buffalo for a small tip :)
Sun flower fields
One of the main reasons you should visit the area in November/December are the wild sun flower fields that are in blossom at this time. They are not real Sunflowers so do not be disappointed by this fact. It is a much smaller flower (Thais call it Bua Tongs/Mexican Sunflower) more like a big yellow daisy. The fields however are huge and whole hills just look yellow. It seems a very touristic thing to do for Thais. At Amphoe Khun Yuam’s Doi Mae U-kho is a good spot to walk around and enjoy the area.There are a lot of food shacks for lunch as well.
Hangout under the Bridge over river Pai
i went there twice to cool off during summer in MHS. There are huts under the bridge (on the water) that spans the Pai river. Huts can be rented for 50baht. There are several stalls along the shore selling beer and BBQ. But it's better to bring along your own beer/drinks/food. Afterwards, take a dip in the sandy and shallow waters of Pai river. It's the best way to spend a hot and lazy Saturday afternoon.
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
Karen is the name of ethnic groups which can be found in the north of Thailand.
There are many groups of Karen in Thailand such as Skaw , Pwo, Pa-o, Kayah and Padong.
At "Huaysuetaw village" the same place where you can find Padong or "long neck karen" in Maehongson, you can also see the village pillars of Kayah where they holding ceremony for spiritual. Kayah respect to spirit so each year in April , they have a big ceremony, the chief of village bring pig head, chicken and more food for offering to spirits and also each year they have new pillar, then you know how long the village established by counting the pillars they have.
This house was builded in year 1886 by Jong U Paka Wang. It is a Burmese Architect Style . It used to host Japanese army during world war II. Now a day it is the place where 4th generation family living and open for public to visit. No entrance fee. Open from 9.00 am - 4.00 pm.
Funny to hitchhike
On some place where you can not find the public transport, Hitchhike is the best way !
The tips for hitchhike in Thailand is asking only "Pick-up car"
You will be in the first class, open air seat :) The people in Maehongsorn are nice, no danger.
They willing to pick up Farang on their way.
Wat Pratat Doi Kong Mu
The temple , myanmar style on the top of Kong Mu Mountain.
There are 2 stupa by 2 Ruler, one is "JongTongsue" in year 1860 and the other is " Paya Singhanat Raja" in year 1874. You will see Maehongson city panorama on the top of the mountain.
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