Festival Fun in Mae Hong Sorn
"MAE hONG sORN, in the northwest pocket of Thailand, is becoming an increasingly popular city for touring, trekking, and venturing out into a very scenic area of the North. It is still relatively untouched, and you could say it is still remote," from the authority on the area Khun Wisoot Buachoom, Director of the Center for Mae Hong Son Tourism Coordination promoting tourism in Mae Hong Son and the Pai Tourism Club. Forming the northwestern border between Thailand and Shan State under Myanmar (Burma), this province offers the visitor much more than one could ever imagine. The life center of the province is the city of Mae Hong Sorn -- small, quaint and serenely comfortable.
Located on a level stretch on a mountainside, the shops and restaurants on the main road of the city are a pleasure to visit. In most of the shops, you'll find an array of inexpensive but very nice items unique to the area and the shop attendants will wait for your decision to ask about items and prices, as opposed to following you around on your heels. This politeness is one of the outstanding features of a visitor's enjoyable stay in the town.
In addition to the people themselves, you can see the Shan and Burmese influence in the Buddhist temples -- one of which is more than 150 years old. You can also see some temples which are obviously intentional combinations of the Thai version of Buddhism and the Burmese version, and there is a difference. Burmese Buddhism has always been more strongly influenced by the original form of Buddhism as it was developed in Northern India. Whereas Theravada Buddhism in most of Thailand arrived via Ceylon (i.e. Sri Lanka), the Buddhism practised by the Thai Yai people of Burma and of Mae Hong Sorn came directly from India via Assam. The people of Mae Hong Sorn brought this with them to Thailand and they are very strongly Buddhist, which may account for their conservatism.
There are several attractions visitors would enjoy However, a person might say__"See one, see them all", especially the large number of temples throughout the kingdom. Wat Pra thart Doi Gong Mu located at the hilltop dominates the provincial city, and affords a wonderful view of the city and surrounding mountains and valleys. There are other temples with their own identities and heritage__Wat Hua Wiang or Glang Muang, Wat Jong Kaam, Wat Jong Glang, Wat Pra Norn, Wat Muay Dtor and Wat Gum - Gor. Bua Tong Blossom Festival : Each year in November the hillside of Khun Yuam and Mae Sariang districts are covered with the golden color of the Bua Tong blooms. Brightly colored and almost as large as a sunflower, the Bua Tong blossoms for only a month. This is enough reason for Mae Hong Sorn Province to hold the Bua Tong Blossom Festival at Khun Yuam every year from 1 November until 15 December. The blossoms appear most profusely at Khun Yuam's Doi Mae U Khaw, where they seem to dominate the view in every direction. Scientists have discovered some natural insect repellent properties in these wild Mexican sunflowers. Bua Tong is one of the symbols of Mae Hong Sorn, and will be forever preserved on the hillside.Loy Krathong Festival : Loy Krathong Festival is held on the November full moon night every year. Villagers make "Krathong" to float on Nhong Jong Kaam, the small lake in the city of Mae Hong Sorn. Various entertainments and a contest of large krathongs are held near Paang Mu Bridge, and lamps and candles are lit all around the area. At Wat Pra Thart Doi Gong Mu there is a ceremony during which candle-lit krathongs bound to hot ballons are released into the sky (known as "Loy Krathong Sawan")
Still inside the City, Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Training Center : For decades one of the many royal duties of her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand is to accompany His Majesty the King during visit to people in all regions of kingdom. Her Majesty perceived that most people were in poverty-stricken conditions. As a result Her Majesty graciously extended her assistance towards the relief of poverty by creating supplementary occupations in order to increase family incense.
It was a place for training is silk cloth weaving wicker and bamboo furniture weaving gold & silver work and more. Her Majesty arranged for instructors to help and teach people to improve the quality of their products Having achieved the necessary skill levels, the people were able to sell their prodfucts.
Exploraing of the City's Surroundings
Pong Daeng Development: project center is located within the Pong Daeng culture. Architecture, costumes and the character of the hill tribes here are different from other hill tribes in Thailand. The attraction of this village is its hilltop location with beautiful view. Visitors can easily go to the village as it is only about 32 kilometers from the district.
Pha Bhong Dam: about 12 kilometers outside Mae Hong Sorn City, has been constructed across the Mae Ra Maad River for generating electrical power. Nearby is the Pha Bhong Spring.
Pha Bhong Hot Spring: the water at the hot spring is rich in sulphates and the temperature isn't too high, though it is hot enough to cook eggs. Tourists can bathe here - the single room rate is 40 Baht / hour while a group room is 300 Baht / hour.
Baan Nam Phiang Din: is a destination in Tambon Pha Bong reached by a 2-hour motor boat trip or 1-day rafting along Pai River vai Baan Huai Dua, a scenic route with marvelous terraced ricefields. Not too far beyond Baan Nam Phiang Din, within Myanmar territory, lies another well frequented tourist destination known as Pha Hom Nam.
Poo Klone Country Club: you should try a face or body treatment using mineral rich mud from the natural spa. Horse riding in the forest is also available.
Tham Pla Forest Park: is situated at Baan Huai Pha, 17 kms. from Mae Hong Sorn township on Highway No.1095 to Amphoe Pai. The area is dotted with reservoirs stocked with many fish and the surroundings are naturally beautiful.
Pha Sua Waterfall: is located in the Forest Park of the same name. At Km.18, a loose-surface road branches off to take you about 10 kilometers to the park. The 7-level cascade is huge and picturesque. The best time to visit the falls is between early August and late September.
Paang Tong Palace: is at Baan Paang Tong in the Paang Tong Highland Development Project. There is a stunning view on both sides of the road up to the palace. Around the palace are various demonstration flower gardens, fruit orchards and animal husbandry programs raising, for example, sheep and chickens.
Mae Hong Sorn Bamboo Study Center: located close to the Paang Tong Highland Development Project and Service Center, is a joint initiative of Queen Sirikit with Mae Hong Sorn Province and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment setup as a new eco-tourism destination reflecting the character of Mae Hong Sorn, the center covers an area of 300 rai which contains 6 naturally occurring species of bamboo and features striking geography and beautiful scenery. The Paang Tong stream provides a natural and plentiful supply of water.
Ruam Thai Village: After Paang Tong Palace and Baan Na Pa Paek, then you will be able to experience the way of life of various tribal peoples, and try the fresh coffee grown in the local fields. There is a lake surrounded by evergreen trees which adds to the atmosphere, making this a wonderful sight-seeing destination. Both a camping area and fixed accommodation are available.
Baan Rak Thai village (Mae Aw): one would expect simple way of life. Here you will see pack burrows carrying farming implements and tea leaves from the farm into the village. The villagers moved here from southern China around 1949. It was one of old KNT (Kuomingtang) military settlements. Even now buildings are made from clay mixed with straw. Visitors can taste Yunnanese cuisine in the open air restaurants plus you can take home Ching-Ching and Oolong teas. Lodging also available.