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Mae Sariang Mae Sariang

Mae Sariang – A backwater town not to be overlooked

Mae Sariang located on the Mae Hong Son Loop route 200km south west of Chiang Mai is a small and sleepy town.  Located in a valley surrounded by mountains and forests, it is mostly populated by the Shan (or Tai Yai as they call themselves a minority group who originate from southern China) and mix of hill tribes such as the Karen, Lawa and Hmong.  The influence of Shan culture is visibly felt in Mae Sariang, from women in their traditional Shan dress (still a common sight at temples) to its architecture and cuisine.  The town is made up of lovely old wooden shophouses mixed in with newer buildings, exquisite temples and the River Yuam.

mae sariang town

One of the 7 districts of Mae Hong Son province, Mae Sariang often gets overlooked by travelers but does have modest charms of its own such as the Salawin River - a mighty river stemming from the Himalayas that forms the border between Thailand and Myanmar. A popular day trip from Mae Sariang town you can hire a long tail boat to cruise down the river, admiring the rugged river banks and cliffs - a forefront to the beautiful mountain peaks that lie behind. Sitting in the boat with Thailand to your left and Myanmar to your right is quite an experience in itself.  The boat stops half way for lunch at a Karen hill tribe village where you can walk around the village and observe aspects of how the remote Karen Skaw live.  Next to the river is Salawin National Park a well preserved area of 721sqm and home to a wide array of flora and fauna and animals such as antelopes, deer, bears, palm civets and gibbons.

Mae Sariang’s other appeal lies in its pristine forest making it popular amongst hardy trekkers looking for a more authentic trek.  Treks can be organized on the spot for 1-3 days and are offered by several guesthouses and tour operators in town.  Overnight treks will probably be spent in remote hill tribe villages sleeping in bamboo huts or tents that see very few tourists and therefore considered less of a canned experience than treks offered in Chiang Mai.

In and around the town itself, there is Mae Sariang museum which opened in the last couple of years, this striking building is one of the first things you will see as you enter the town.  The upper architecture is distinctly Shan whilst the basement is in classic Lanna style.  The museum has several artifacts and displays on the history of the area, at the moment descriptions are only in Thai.

nae sariang museum

The pride of Mae Sariang locals has to be the 4 temples in the 4 corners of Mae Sariang town.  With one temple at each corner these are known as; Wat pra that chom chaeng, What pratat chom tong, Wat pratat chom kitti and Wat pratat chom mon.  Each is distinct and some offer magnificent hilltop views of the town.

 

Although being a small town Mae Sariang still offers all the essentials for tourists, with an adequate selection of hotels and guesthouses ranging from budget to 4 star.  Being Thailand, finding food is never a problem and there are even a couple of places that offer good western dishes too.  There are three 7/11s, a handful of ATMs and internet cafes, so you can still stay connected.

Tour & Trek Providers

Thailand Hilltribe Holidays – 66 mu 12.t bankad, 0899569897/ 0871904469, http://www.thailandhilltribeholidays.com/

Salawin Tours - 85/1 Langpanich Road, 0897009928, http://salawintour.blogspot.com/

Accommodation

Riverside Hotel & Resort -   77 Langpanich Road, 053 621 201/ 053 683 066,  http://www.riverhousehotels.com/

Northwest Guesthouse -      81 Langpanich Road, 0897009928/0866704286, http://northwestgh.blogspot.com/

Roadside Guesthouse -        44 Mae Sariang Road, 053 682 713

Riverside Guesthouse -        85/1 Langpanich Road, 053 681 188

Mitaree Guesthouse-            34 Wiang Mai Road, 053 681 109/280

Mitaree Hotel -                     158 Mae Sariang Road, 053 681 110

Kamolsorn Hotel -                283 Mae Sariang Road, 053 681 524 

Written by Melissa Ah-Sing, Co-Founder of Thailand Hilltribe Holidays

Lamphang

lamphun-wat phra that hariphunchai-01     
       ited in mid-town, Wat Phra That Hariphunchai was built during the reign of King Arthitayarat, a descendant of Queen Chamthewi some 800 years ago.A principal landmark is the 46-metre tall golden Chedi which contains a hair of the Lord Buddha, having nine-tiered umbrella, made of gold weighing approximately 6,498.75 grams...

Chiang Rai

      on the bank of the Kok River within town area, contains what is believed to be the oldest Holy Relic even before King Mengrai built Chiang Rai. Doi Chom Thong has been a sacred site for aextremely long time. The site was surely reverenced as the home of local spirits before Buddhism arrived in the area.

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