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Ban Mae Lana

Location

Ban Mae Lana is an ethnic Thai Yai [Shan] community, located 18 km’s from Soppong, and framed by the mountains of Mae Hong Son province. This tranquil village lies in a valley, surrounded by paddy fields. On arrival, visitors will notice the beautiful, simple, Shan style Buddhist temple. A river winds gently through the village, complementing the peaceful atmosphere.

Highlights

Experience Thai Yai lifestyle, history and serene Buddhist culture, explore stunning caves and enjoy traditional Thai massage and local herbal sauna.

Special

Mae Lana’s Shan heritage and Buddhist beliefs are visible in every aspect of daily life. Crafted from golden teak, the temple lies at the heart of the village. Several layers of temple roof slope graciously down and outwards, framing the entrance to the temple. Every month, the villagers participate in Buddhist ceremonies, including the nationally famous “Poy Sang Long” ritual, where young men are carried by relatives to the temple to become novice monks.

The people of Mae Lana have also revived an ancient Shan performance art, known as “Jaad Tai” Dancers wear elaborate animal costumes, such as deer and peacock. They perform a vibrant dance, which almost convinces the audience that real animals are dancing. Jaad Tai had been forgotten for several decades. In 2000, a group of community members decided to revive this art, so that it would not be lost forever to the younger generation of Shan.

Traditional knowledge about how to produce organic sesame oil has also been successfully passed on and earns significant income for local people.

Outside Mae Lana, the environment is rugged and beautiful. Several caves can be reached within 2-3 hours on foot. These include small, dry caves for soft adventure, as well as serious cave systems, requiring special equipment to explore, which run underground for hundreds of meters and include stretches of black water. Nature lovers who prefer to stay above ground will enjoy exploring the forest.

Activities

Trek to local caves: Several caves can be visited, ranging from 300 meters in length to 12 kilometers. Inside Mae Lana cave, there are underground rivers, waterfall and exotic wildlife. Significant species include the rare Rana Bylthill, Neolisso Chilus Suterraneus [no eyed fish], snail, tiny mollusk, solo brook carp, and bat. There are also stalactites and stalagmites, curtain and pear-shaped limestone formations, and huge subterranean basalt columns.

Enjoy Shan massage and herbal sauna: The Shan have a long tradition of herbal medicine and massage. Guests can enjoy and relaxing herbal sauna, complemented by fragrant aromas of various medicinal herbs. There is also a traditional Thai massage group, on hand to help guests relax after the forest trek.

Enjoy Jaad Tai dance performance: Local dancers, dressed in colourful costumes blend dance with the natural movements of wild animals. This project was initiated by a local teacher, and the group has now been invited to perform around the country. Guests may also be able to watch a sword dancing performance, which was traditionally performed in order to prepare warriors before going into battle.

Volunteer activities: The village teacher is keen for local children to have a chance to learn some English. There are opportunities to join in school activities, play games and teach painting, singing and sports with students.