We decided before setting out that we were going to stop at Pha Bong Hot Springs along the way. This is about 10KM south of Mae Hong Son and you could easily backtrack if you’re already in town. We opted for the massage and the foot soak. The hot springs are hot! There is a bath or big bath option but we took a peak inside the bathrooms and they looked a little iffy in terms of cleanliness. The foot soak is only 20baht per person and you can just hang out with your feet out however long you’d like.
For the bird lover in all of you, there’s a bird watching sanctuary just north of Khun Yuam. Seeing as we forgot our binocs, we opted to continue on.
Once we arrived in town we checked into Piya Guesthouse. Very nice. Big room with couch. Very clean room and bathroom, private little outside sitting area, swimming pool, right next to lake and night market. Cheap for what you get.
We spent our first night in town visiting Wat Doi Kong Mu which overlooks the town and is a great place to take in the sunset. It was seriously beautiful and I highly recommend going up there to watch the sun go down. We stumbled upon an alternative way to the top which is probably actually faster than taking the weaving paved pathway. Here’s how you get there. Once you turn onto the road up to the top hang a right into what looks like an old temple under construction. There are stairs a little further on that look a little more like ruins than stairs. That’s what you want. Once the stairs end, continue on the scenic route through the brush and you’ll eventually meet up with the paved road.
We got a table at Before Sunset Café but get there early because there are only a few tables on the deck itself. There is also a viewing platform a little higher up the hill if you want completely uninterrupted views. It might behoove you to bring a headlamp or flashlight for the walk down. Definitely stay up there until the lights come on.
We headed to Salween café for dinner. They serve up Thai and Burmese food. We decided to try the tea leaf salad which was delicious. We also had the country chicken soup and chili con carne. Both very good. The night market is buzzing right outside our guesthouse and around the lake. Plenty of food and trinkets to buy here.
The following day in Mae Hong Son we took it easy. In the morning, we started out for the morning market located on Phanich Wattana Road. There are some stalls on the street leading up to the market, but then it turns inside a large roofed complex and sells everything from produce to clothing. There aren’t so many options for food on the spot but we found some khow pad moo and some version of noodle soup for breakfast. Both were good.
We covered the main street of town in a short period of time but stumbled upon a Mae Hong Son tourist center called Maehongson Living Museum. They have some great brochures outlining the major shops on the main drag – Singhanat Bamrung- along with all the tourist-y like things you can do involving trekking and biking and cooking school and everything involving a lot of cash. Their website is informative as well and is probably a good starting point for anyone visiting Mae Hong Son. I wish we would have planned it sooner.
Road conditions to Mae Hong Son: excellent!