North-west of Chiang Mai, and surrounded by the mountains and lush forests of north-east Thailand, the area around Mae Hong Son sits alongside the Myanmar (Burma) border and is characterised by such a wealth of ethnic diversity, including the tribes of Karen, Hmong, Lawa, Lisu, Lahu and Shan peoples, that Thais are themselves the minority in the region.


This very fact, and the remoteness of the largely natural landscape make the area of great interest to trekkers and those keen to visit the villages of these endangered cultures.

In the town of Mae Hong Son itself, the proximity of Myanmar is reflected in the Burmese architectural influences evident in the temples of Wat Chong Klang, Wat Chong Kham, and the hilltop Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, which overlooks the town.

The town is popular as a base departure point for treks deep into the unspoilt wilderness of forested valleys and caves, including the vast caverns of the cave complex at Tham Lot, among the largest in South-east Asia, and known to have been used as a burial ground in pre-historic times.

Nearby Pai is home to some hot springs, and often visited for elephant trekking and rafting on the Pai River.