Street-by-Street: Mae Hong Son



Street-by-Street: Mae Hong Son

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Beautifully located in a valley ringed by forested mountains, Mae hong Son sprang up in 1831 from a small camp where elephants were tethered. The town was largely isolated until it was linked by a paved highway to Chiang Mai in 1965. The province has traditionally been dominated by nearby Myanmar (Burma), as shown by its architecture. Shan and Karen people, who make up most of the population, continue to move across the border to live in Mae hong Son and its environs. Today, the tranquil town is growing as a resort and trekking center. In the cool season, you may need to wear a sweater or jacket here

Wat Hua Wiang

This teak temple has a Myanmar-style, multiroofed design. The bot – in an advanced state of decay – houses an important brass image of Buddha, Phrachao Para La ‘Khaeng, that was transported here from Myanmar.

Daily Market

This lively, pungent market, which almost spills onto the airport runway, sells a range of fresh produce, Myanmar textiles, and trekking supplies. Local hill tribes are often seen here.

Chong Kham Lake

This lake, which was originally a bathing pool for elephants, can be especially stunning in the early-morning mists that enshroud the town.

Wat Chong Kham

Wat Chong Kham (c.1827), which was built by the Shan, features a multi-roofed chedi. The wat houses a revered 16-ft (5-m) seated Buddha image.

Wat Chong Klang

Built in the late 19th century, this temple has distinctive white and gold chedis. Painted glass panels depicting the jataka tales can be seen on request.

Khumlum Phraphat Road

Craft shops, restaurants, and tour companies line Mae Hong Son’s main street. Hill-tribe textiles and antiques are among the items for sale.

The Padaung Women

Many tours from Mae Hong Son visit the “long-neck women” of the area. These women, of the Padaung, or Kayan, tribe, are distinguished by their long necks, lengthened from childhood by brass rings. Among the explanations for this old practice are that it protects the women from tiger attacks and that it enhances their looks. The practice began to die out until the Padaung realized tourists would pay to see the women. Some organizations condemn such visits.

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