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Fast Fact

Mae Hong Son is a picturesque, mountainous northern province bordering Myanmar (Burma) to the Northwest, hiding itself in between the towering mountains with densely forested slopes, stretching to the Burmese border. Reportedly 95% of the province consist of mountains and forest.

This town is known for its charm of scenery and culture. The area has many Burmese influences reflected in the various hill tribes and different temple styles. The province has great natural beauty with rugged mountains, waterfalls and caves and cool climate almost all year round. And pristine forests lend the province much of its unspoiled charm.

Most of the town's original inhabitants are Shan. Several Shan and hill tribe villages in the vicinity can be visited as day trips. The population of Mae Hong Son includes Shan and various hill tribes such as Karen, Hmong, Lahu, Lua and Lisu, scattering in the districts.

The Shan’s ancestors came from Shan’s region in Burma. Both the Shan and the hill-tribes men have their own distinctive cultures. They have their own lilting dialect, their own architectural lifestyles, their own customs and traditions, and their own delicious cuisine.

History

About 200 years ago, inhabitants of the Shan state of Burma came to the area along the Pai River to grow rice on the fertile soil. In the beginning they left after the harvest and went back home, but later some of them stayed and founded a small village close to the river.

With the Shan their culture was introduced to this area as well, with the new village called Pang Moo (meaning area of wild pig) in its centre. One day the King of Chiang Mai came to the area, looking for wild elephants. At that time elephants were the main force of the King's army. When he found the village he left the caught elephants there to be trained along the river before bringing them to Chiang Mai.

With this the name Mae Hong Son was introduced: in the Thai language 'Mae' means river, 'Hong' is the expression for a narrow part of a river and 'Son' is training. Mae Hong Son became a colony of Chiang Mai, having its own representative though. When Bangkok became the residence of the King and the country's capital, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son were included - since then the small town in the northwest has belonged to the former Siam, which is now Thailand.