Maehongson – the City of Dreams, the Paradise on Earth (2016)
“The city of three seasons’ mists, Pha That Kong Mu that scrapes sky, luscious forests, kind-hearted people, rich traditions and the land of Mexican sunflowers”
Mae Hong Son, the city of dream, the paradise on earth.
Mae Hong Son is a border province in Northern Thailand. It is approximately 924 kilometers far from Bangkok. The province’s area is approximately 12,780 square kilometers which is the third largest province of Northern Thailand and the eighth largest province of the country. To the east Mae Hong Son connects to Chiang Mai province. To the south it connects to Tak province. To the west and the north all 7 districts share a common border with the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. 90 percent of the landscape is high and steep mountains. Most of the areas are abundant forests. The forest area is 87 percent of the province’s area.
Mae Hong Son is divided into 7 districts: Mueang Mae Hong Son, Mae Sariang, Pai, Khun Yuam, Mae La Noi, Sop Moei and Pang Mapha; 45 sub-districts, 415 villages and 50 local administrative organizations. In 2016, population is about 275,884. The households are about 105,535. Apart from the locals and Thai Yai people, Mae Hong Son has main 7 ethnic groups: Karen, Muser, Lisu, Lavue, Hmong, Yunnan Chinese and Pa’O.
Mae Hong Son was habitat of pre-historic humans. Examples of evidences in the caves at Pang Mapha district include grains, ancient human bones in Phi Man coffin, beads, earthenware and stone axes. Archaeological studies indicate that these humans were Neolithic (7,000-4,500 years ago).
About 1831, Chao Luang Phuttawong, the ruler of Chiang Mai, ordered Chao Kaew Muang Ma to capture wild elephants and trained them. So Chao Kaew Muang Ma leaded mahouts and elephant decoys across mountains to the west of Chiang Mai. They found a brook where wild elephants gathered. The watercourse was suitable for training wild elephants. Chao Kaew Muang Ma and his troop built the village here. It was named “Mae Hong Son.” Mae means river. Hong which is Thai Yai language means watercourse. Therefore, Mae Hong Son means the watercourse that is the place for training wild elephants. The village’s name became the present province’s name.
There are road transport and air transport. The road transport is the Highway number 1095 Chiang Mai-Pai-Mae Hong Son and the Highway number 108 Chiang Mai-Mae Sariang-Mae Hong Son. By air, there are commercial flights between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son every day.
About Mae Hong Son’s economic status, in 2014, its Gross Provincial Product or GPP is 11,078 million Baht. The yearly per capita income is 54,615 Baht.
About the border trade, Mae Hong Son shares a 454-kilometer common border by land and water with Myanmar. There are 5 border trade areas. The yearly per capita value of border trade is approximately 1,600 million Baht.
Mae Hong Son is located near Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar. The shortest distance between them is just 220 kilometers. Mae Hong Son is the gate to the west and to main economic cities of Myanmar at Loikaw, Mandalay, Taunggyi, Taungoo and Thandwe . The link to Thandwe port provides 17 provinces of Northern Thailand with access to the sea and have economic connection with new markets: China, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
“Giving the royal grace to Mae Hong Son people.” His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen and members of the royal family make visits to Mae Hong Son people continuously. They saw poverty problems. The ethnic groups grew opium in order to support their households. The agricultural land was limited. However, Mae Hong Son is the only province that has watershed forests.
In 1979 His Majesty the King established the Royal Project Development Center at Mae Hong Son. The goals of this center are researching, training, disseminating the agricultural knowledge which is the important factor of sustainable development. Mae Hong Son nowadays is still rich in natural resources which create its natural beauty and make Mae Hong Son one of the top-class tourist attractions of Thailand.
About tourism, Mae Hong Son is one of the important tourist destinations in Northern region. There are various tourist attractions. Its unique ancient sites, antiques and culture enchant visitors. Mae Hong Son receives about eight-hundred-thousand tourists yearly. It has annual income from tourism about 3,500 million Baht.
Famous natural tourist attractions are, for example, Pang Oung, Mexican Sunflower Field, Mae Surin water fall National Park, Tham Kaew Komol, Tham Lot, Tham Phi Man, Tham Pla-Pha Suea National Park, Su Tong Pae Bridge, Salawin National Park, and rafting on Pai river. Visiting the largest teak forest of the world, the marvellous Na-va-min-ta-ra-ra-chi-nee teak forest. There are many hot springs, for instance, Pha Bong Hot Spring, Tha Pai Hot Spring and Nong Hang Hot Spring. Do not miss Phuklon Country Club which is Unseen Thailand. Its mud is natural and found only one-third in the world.
Important historical attractions are, for example, World War II Museum and Tha Pai Memorial Bridge. There are many places for learning culture, tradition and way of life of Thai Yai people and other ethnic groups in every district. Besides, you can accommodate at home stays.
Goods and souvenirs of Mae Hong Son are handicraft products, OTOP products and local products, for instance, silverware; jewels; wild honey; tea leaves; coffee; Kup Tai or Thai Yai woven hats; Thai Yai clothes; woollen woven cloth; woven cloth by Karen, Lisu and Muser; Thai Yai snacks such as Lai Suea beans, Pae Yee beans, Pae Lho beans and Thai Yai popcorn; Phuklon products; sesame cosmetics; sesame snacks. You can buy goods and souvenirs at Royal Folks Arts and Crafts Training Center, downtown shops, markets, walking street and local product shops in every district of Mae Hong Son.
The capacity of Mae Hong Son comes from the province’s unique arts, tradition and culture; natural resources and wonderful scenery; including simple and sufficient communities’ way of life. People are encouraged and are improved their quality of life in order to live happily. It is accepted that Mae Hong Son people are one of the happiest people in the country. All of these conform to the province’s vision: “The city of ecotourism, opening the gate to the west, improving the quality of life, developing the sustainable economy in sufficient style.” Mae Hong Son people welcome everybody heartwarmingly. You will be impressed and happy at this land.