Mae Hong Son is a province located in northern Thailand, bordering Myanmar, about five hours away from Chiang Rai. Because of its remote location, tourists can enjoy the breathtaking landscapes views. It’s a great place to reconnect with nature away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore; maybe even take out those adventure boots you’ve been keeping in the closet for a long time.
Kho Gu So Bamboo Bridge
1. An adorable bamboo bridge
Meaning “merit bridge” in Thai, the one-year-old Kho Gu Bamboo So Bridge raised walkway was built to connect Pam Bok village with the nearby Huay Khai Khiri House of Priests and spans 815 meters across rice paddy fields. Head there around 7am on full and new moons (Dec 22 and 28) to see villagers gathering on the bridge to make merit with local monks.
Pam Bok Waterfall
2. A beautiful waterfall
Situated in the same village, Pam Bok Waterfall features a 15-meter-high cascade flanked by a crevasse. Though trekking to the waterfall is short and easy, prepare to get wet as the waterfall’s main attraction can only be reached by wading upstream.
Doi Thong, Pai. Photo credit: Worapoj Tragunbangkhla
Doi Miang. Photo credit: Narit Uaesakulporncharoen
3. Misty mountains
Doi Thong and Doi Miang are on the travel wish-lists of all sunset seekers. You’ll find four guestrooms in the area, powered by electricity from solar cells and costing $20 per night, as well as four-man tents to rent at $16 per night. Traveling to Doi Thong and Doi Miang requires help from the village’s tourism unit (+66-53 (0) 63-123-9022, +66-53 (0) 89-261-8986, ) as you’ll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to reach the peak. Rides starting from Pai center cost $12 per person; or you can charter a truck for $89.
4. New villas in the valley
The luxurious Puripai Villa just unveiled three new villas, one three-bedroom villa and two three-bedroom pool villas. The resort sits on a small hill on the outskirts of the town center, allowing you to witness the early morning mist right from your villa’s balcony. Rates start at $356.50 for one bedroom villas, $583 for three bedroom villas and $230 for deluxe rooms.
5. You can now reach Pai in 30 minutes
Traveling from Chiang Mai to Pai is an epic road trip of hundreds of U-bends winding up a mountain. If you don’t have the stomach for that, Kan Air now operates a 30-minute flight from Chiang Mai to Pai every day. The price is pocket-friendly too, costing from $52-80 per flight.
6. Pai’s very own craft beer bar
Nightlife institution Jikko Bar has opened little sister Jikko Beer just a stone’s throw from the original spot, selling both Thai brewed and imported craft beers. They plan to release their own brand of craft beer soon, too.
7. Shooting games
The Yunnan Cultural Village has added some new pursuits: shooting guns and bows, both at $2 per time. While you’re there, don’t miss lunch at Yunnan restaurant, especially the braised pork leg with fried Chinese buns, Yunnan salad and rare items like deep-fried, sundried goat meat.
8. New foodie names in the night market
Alongside the market’s art and craft offerings, a host of new eateries have opened. Grunge Burger (+66-53 (0) 97-927-9688) pops up every night of the week on Chai Songkram Road walking street, offering burgers, salads and grilled meats. A beef or chicken burger with cheese and bacon costs only $4.
9. Great Northern food
If you’re looking for some delicious Northern cuisine, head to the Belle Villa Resort Pai. Though they mainly specialize in central Thai dishes, the menu also has a few Northern highlights like laab kua (spicy pork with herbs, $4), sai oa (northern style sausage, $5) and gaeng hang lay (pork curry with ginger and nuts, $5)—all are amazing.
10. Breathtaking sunsets
Pai’s most-visited temple, Phra That Mae Yen, isn’t just a place of worship anymore. The respectable temple is set to become a prime sunset viewpoint thanks to 280 still-in-construction steps leading to the top. Here, the giant, all-white Phra Buddha Lokuttara Mahamuni stands proud over the dramatic scenery.
11. Swim in a warm-water stream
Dubbed the “secret hot spring,” Sai Ngam spring in the Lum Nam Pai Wildlife Sanctuary is now being promoted thanks to its warm stream of spring water. The emerald pool is so clear you can see your toes as you bathe in water that remains balmy even when the weather around you is freezing. Find it at Sai Ngam village, about 15 kilometers from the town center. Entrance costs $0.80.
12. Taste single whole bean coffee
Coffee lovers need head to Pai Island Resort, whose coffee shop sits beside a stream and uses single-seed beans shaped like peas, as opposed to the more common varieties where two seeds grow pressed together. It is believed peaberries’ shape allows them to be roasted more evenly. Try it for yourself in an espresso or go for something boozy like the coffee Cointreau ($6) and coffee Remy Martin ($7.30).