Travel to Mae Hong Son, Northern Thailand

Sometimes it’s good to take your mind off blogging and travel to uncharted places and unfamiliar countries. As a gateway to the settlements of Karen, Lisu and Black Lahu ethnic minorities, Mae Hong Son is tucked into a tiny valley in Thailand’s far north, surrounded by steep-sloped and jungle-clad mountains.

In the late 1980s, the completion of a highway from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son made the isolated hamlet seem like a frontier town. Mawkmai State, one of the Shan kingdoms that dominated this area until British unjustly divided their territories between Burma and Siam in the 19th century, was really a part of this province. Despite the fact that the territory is now split between Thailand and Myanmar, the majority of the population is still ethnically Shan, and as a result, the two countries share much of their culture and history.

Today, despite its isolated location, Mae Hong Son is a popular tourist destination for Thais seeking the lowest temperatures and a true sensation of isolation. Mae Hong Son is a popular tourist destination because of the abundance of hiking opportunities, ethnic minority cultures, and breathtaking mountain scenery. A network of mountain routes weaves across rice fields and steep slopes to the villages of Karen (Liu), Hmong (Black Lahu), and Lisu (Hmong). There are rivers rushing through limestone caverns filled with dripping stalactites under the hills, and in the mornings, verdant valleys fill with seas of clouds, silhouetted against the sunlight by the mountaintops of the surrounding ranges.

Chiang Mai is a great starting point for day-trips into the surrounding mountains, and the “Mae Hong Son Loop” is one of the best ways to get a taste of the area.