North Thailand / Mae Hong Son

Mae Hong Son, Thailand's second northernmost provincial capital, is sheltered by several high mountains and enjoys a cool climate almost all year round. Until a few years ago, the town was pretty isolated from the outside world and as late as the 70's accessible only by plane whenever bad weather rendered the roads impassable. As good roads exist now, the town is much visited by tourists who look for a last frontier experience. Apart from flying, one can go to Mae Hong Son comfortably from Chiang Mai either on Highway 108 via Mae Sariang or on the 274km (171mi) Highway 1095 via Pai. Mae Hong Son Province is bordered by Burma to the north and west, and a strong Burmese influence can be seen in the provincial capital's temples and other buildings. Mae Hong Son Province, with an area of 12,681sqkm (4,895sqmi), is divided into the 5 districts of the town of Mae Hong Son (Muang), Mae Sariang, Mae La Noi, Pai and Khun Yuam and the 2 sub-districts of Bang Ma Pha and Sop Moei.

Authors note:

Tourism for idiots

I can understand some forms of tourism: for example, if people from cold countries want to go to a beach place in a warm country for two weeks. I can also understand those who go to a fun place to party. I can even understand parents who bring their children to Disneyland (though I personally regard this as a waste of money).

But the tourism you have in Northern Thailand and in Laos is for idiots.

Remote hill tribes! Wow. The Golden Triangle, the world's traditional opium-growing region. And you were there! Elephant trekking through the jungle. Real adventure!

The fact is that all of this is so totally commercialized, that it is no different from a theme park. Only less convenient.

But at least a theme park is honest in that it admits that it's all just show. On the other hand, North Thailand and Laos tourism promotion pretends that all of this is authentic. But it's a lie. It's all only about making stupid tourists spend money. Preferably a lot. For nothing of genuine value.


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Jan Garanoz
Juhu Tara Road, Juhu,
Mumbai - 400049 India
Last updated: June 23, 2010