Where to Go
Transport Mae Hong Son
As a province somewhat off the typical tourist route, Mae Hong Son is best reached by air, though traveling via private car, public bus, or motorbike can be a long and wild ride, which is either good or bad depending on how susceptible you are to motion sickness. For a price, the flight is far faster. Once in Mae Hong Son there are local busses, songtaews, and motorbike taxis for trips between provincial towns and to attractions outside of those towns, such as hot springs and waterfalls.
One can travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by rail and then continue to Mae Hong Son by bus. For more information, call 1699, 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020 or visit www.railway.co.th
Mae Hong Son is located 924 kilometers from Bangkok. Drive from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and then choose the following routes from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son:
Route 108: 1864 curves along the route from Chiang Mai through Hot, Mae Sariang, and Khun Yuam to Mae Hong Son: a distance of 349 kilometers.
Route 1095: Chiang Mai - Mae Malai – Pai - Mae Hong Son: a somewhat straighter distance of 245 kilometers.
Muang Nuea Yan Yon Tour (Tel: (0 2936 3587-8) operates an air-conditioned bus which runs directly from Bangkok to Mae Hong Son every day. The bus departs from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2) Bus Terminal at 6 p.m. The trip takes about 17 hours.
Thai Airways flies between Bangkok and Mae Hong Son daily. Reservation should be made in advance to guarantee a seat on the once daily flight as the flight connects in Chiang Mai where it picks up more passengers for the shorter, slightly less expensive leg of the trip. Contact Thai Airways at Tel: 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000 or call 1566 or visit www.thaiairways.com for current schedule.
Mae Hong Song ‘city’ is a small town that can be explored on foot, though there are many tuk tuks for rides in and around the city.
Around the province:
Many of the guesthouses in provincial towns rent motorbikes for exploring the areas surrounding the towns, but visitors should be aware of the dangers of doing so. In addition to the occasional scam, foreigners are frequently involved in road accidents and Mae Hong Son features far more dangerous roads than it does first class medical facilities. If you must, ride carefully and wear both a helmet and closed-toed shoes. Motorbikes can be hired for 150-500 baht a day depending on size.
Bicycles can be hired in the provincial capital and in Pai. Simple pushbikes are inexpensive; nicer mountain bikes are a bit more expensive, but better for tackling hills.
A four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended for travel into the mountains, where not all roads are sealed. Drivers should exercise extreme caution and watch out for other drivers around blind corners as well as potholes and other adverse road conditions. It should also be noted that only Commercial First Class Insurance provides full coverage on rental cars (as opposed to limited personal or third party only insurance). Most international car rental agencies will offer this insurance (some only for those with a valid international driver’s license) while local companies may or may not. You may wish to request a copy of their insurance policy and ensure that it states "For Commercial Use". Regardless, inspect rental vehicles prior to rental and drive with caution, particularly as traffic in Thailand can be quite confusing, especially the habit of Thai motorcycles drivers to drive on the wrong side of the road.
If you wish to visit remote hill-tribe villages, the only way to get to many is on foot. It is best to hire the services of a knowledgeable guide who is familiar with the local weather, terrain, and language rather than try to set out into the wilderness on your own.
By Bus, Songtaew, and Motorbike Taxi:
Once in Mae Hong Son there are local busses, songtaews, and motorbike taxis for trips between provincial towns and to attractions outside of those towns. If you wish to check out a nearby hot spring or waterfall, a local bus or songtaew going in that direction won’t charge more than 10 or 20 baht per passenger to get you there, while motorbikes, which are the only method of getting to many attractions, will charge you several hundred baht for the convenience of guaranteeing you a ride back.