Mae Sariang is a hidden gem in Northern Thailand, located in the Mae Hong Son province. This small town is nestled along the Yuam River and surrounded by lush, forested mountains. Due to its remote location, Mae Sariang sees far fewer tourists than other popular destinations in Northern Thailand, making it an ideal spot for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Despite its small size, Mae Sariang offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. The town is an excellent starting point for those looking to explore the Mae Hong Son Loop, a scenic route that winds through the mountains and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can also take a leisurely stroll through the town’s quaint streets, where they’ll find traditional wooden houses, charming cafes, and local markets selling fresh produce and handicrafts. For those looking to get a taste of local culture, the town’s annual Poy Sang Long festival is a must-see event that features elaborate processions and traditional dances.
Whether you’re an adventure seeker or simply looking for a peaceful getaway, Mae Sariang has something to offer everyone. With its stunning natural beauty and unique cultural experiences, it’s no wonder why this hidden gem is quickly becoming a popular destination for travelers seeking an authentic Northern Thailand experience.
Geography and Location
Mae Sariang is a small town located in Mae Hong Son Province, Northern Thailand, near the Myanmar border. The town is situated in a narrow valley along the Yuam River, which is surrounded by mountains and forested areas. The local population of Mae Sariang is of mixed origin, including Shan, Thai, and hill tribe communities.
Mae Sariang is located approximately 220 kilometers northwest of Chiang Mai, and it is part of the Mae Hong Son Loop, a popular tourist route that passes through Mae Hong Son, Pai, Mae La Noi, and Mae Chaem. The town is accessible by public transport, including buses and minivans, as well as private vehicles.
Mae Sariang is known for its natural beauty, including the Yuam River, which is a popular spot for swimming and rafting, and several waterfalls in the surrounding area. The town is also close to Salawin National Park, which is home to the Salawin River and a variety of flora and fauna, including elephants, tigers, and gibbons.
Things to Do
Mae Sariang is a great place for trekking and exploring nature trails, with beautiful scenery and hill tribe villages to discover. Visitors can stay in bamboo huts or homestays to experience the local culture and way of life. Other popular activities include visiting local markets, rice fields, and temples, as well as taking a scenic drive along the Mae Hong Son Loop.
The weather in Mae Sariang is generally mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year. The best time to visit is during the cool season, from November to February, when the weather is dry and comfortable. During the rainy season, from May to October, the town can experience heavy rainfall and flooding, which can make travel difficult.
Visitors to Mae Sariang can get around by motorbike, which can be rented from local shops, or by hiring a driver to take them to nearby attractions. Public transport is also available, including buses and minivans, which can take travelers to other destinations in Northern Thailand.
History and Culture
Mae Sariang has a rich history dating back to the early days of the Lanna Kingdom. It was an important trading center during the days of the teak logging industry, and a strategic point during the conflicts between the Thai government and the Communist Party of Thailand. Today, Mae Sariang is a peaceful town with a strong sense of cultural heritage.
One of the most notable buildings in Mae Sariang is the Mae Sariang Museum, which is a testament to the town’s history and culture. The museum showcases exhibits on the history and culture of the Shan (Tai Yai) people, as well as the more recent history of teak logging. Unfortunately, the museum has been closed for a number of years due to COVID-19.
Mae Sariang is a melting pot of cultures, with a mixed population of Thai, Shan, Karen, and other ethnic groups. The local population is known for their warm hospitality and laid-back way of life.
One of the best ways to experience the local culture is to visit the morning market, where you can witness the hustle and bustle of locals buying and selling fresh produce, meat, and other goods. The night food market is also a must-visit for any foodie, as it offers a wide variety of delicious Asian cuisine.
Mae Sariang is also home to several temples and pagodas, including Wat Jong Soong, Wat Chom Thong, and Wat Phrathat Chom Mon. These temples showcase beautiful architecture and intricate details, and are a great way to learn more about the local Buddhist culture.
For those interested in the history of the Karen people, a visit to the Karen villages in the surrounding hills is a must. These villages offer a glimpse into the traditional way of life of the Karen people, and are a great way to learn about their customs and traditions.
Mae Sariang is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, and is home to several natural attractions, including the Mae Sawan Noi Waterfall, Mae Sam Laep, and the Salawin River. The hot springs near the Myanmar border are also a popular attraction, and offer a relaxing way to unwind after a day of exploring.
For those interested in hiking and trekking, the Mae Chom Kitti and Buddha Cave trails offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The nearby national park is also a great place to explore the local flora and fauna.
Mae Sariang is a small town, and most attractions can be easily reached on foot or by bicycle. Tuk-tuks and songthaews (shared taxis) are also available for those who prefer not to walk.
Tips for Travelers
- Mae Sariang is a predominantly Muslim town, so it is important to be respectful of local customs and dress modestly.
- The town is located on Highway 108, which makes it a popular stop for travelers exploring the Mae Hong Son Loop.
- Mae Sariang is a great place to try local cuisine, including traditional Karen dishes and halal food.
- The town is known for its beautiful fan-making, so be sure to pick up a souvenir to take home.
- In case of emergency, the main road through town has a fire station and hospital.
Mae Sariang is a hidden gem in Northern Thailand, offering a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re interested in exploring local markets, hiking through the mountains, or simply relaxing in a peaceful setting, Mae Sariang has something for everyone.
When it comes to transportation in Mae Sariang, there are several options available for travelers. Whether you prefer to travel by public transport or explore the town on your own, there are plenty of choices to suit your needs.
Traveling by bus is one of the most popular ways to get to Mae Sariang. There are several buses that run daily from Chiang Mai Arcade bus station, with journey times taking approximately 4-5 hours, depending on whether you opt for air conditioning or a fan. The cost is around 100 baht, and the bus may drop you off at the edge of town near the museum.
If you prefer to drive, it is possible to rent a car in Chiang Mai and make the 200 km journey to Mae Sariang. The drive takes around 4 hours, and you can enjoy the scenic mountainous views along the way.
For the more adventurous traveler, trekking from Chiang Mai to Mae Sariang is an option. This trek takes around 5-6 days and follows the traditional Hmong trails. You will need to bring your own tents and camping equipment, and it is recommended to hire a guide for the journey.
One of the best ways to explore Mae Sariang is by bicycle. You can rent a bicycle from several shops in town for around 50-100 baht per day. This is a great way to explore the countryside and take in the stunning views at your own pace.
Another popular option is renting a motorbike. This gives you the freedom to explore the town and surrounding areas on your own. Rental prices start at around 200 baht per day, and you will need a valid driver’s license to rent a motorbike.
By Public Transport
If you prefer to use public transport, there are several songthaews (shared taxis) that run around town. These are a cheap and convenient way to get around, with fares starting at around 20 baht.
For those who prefer a more comfortable and convenient option, you can hire a driver for the day. This is a great way to explore the area without having to worry about navigating the roads yourself. Prices start at around 1000 baht per day, and you can negotiate with the driver for a customized itinerary.
In conclusion, there are several transportation options available when visiting Mae Sariang. Whether you prefer to travel by bus, car, trek, bicycle, motorbike, public transport, or hire a driver, there is something for everyone. Just make sure to choose the option that suits your needs and budget.