Kew Lom Overlook
I had made one previous trip to this province to visit the town Pai. This is a cliche hippie town with tons of ex-pats who never went home, and countless backpackers with dreadlocks in need of a shower. That being said Pai is a fun place and pretty affordable. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the outdoors, there are tons of waterfalls, hot springs, etc. all in a relatively close proximity. Very easy to get to on a bike.
But this trip I went with my fiance and her mother to the provincial city for a couple days of trekking and relaxation. The city itself is rather small with a pleasant ambiance. There aren't too many foreigners as most opt for the city of Pai, but it's got a nice lake with a nightly market.
Village above Mae La Na
This is a great place to make day trips from, which is exactly what we did. The first day we went up to the very north of the province and visited what they considered a "real chinese" town. Along the way we stopped at a hill tribe town where they have been making their own coffee in efforts to export it throughout Thailand. I was excited about their project but after tasting their coffee realized that they have lots of work to do before they can make any money from it. Then we stopped off to view Ban Ruam Thai. This is a small place that is a project of the Queen's. She has been putting money into this area to clean up and turn into a tourist area with guesthouses. The scenery is beautiful, as is the man made lake.
Pha Sua Waterfall
The A-frame guesthouses were ok, but nothing too exciting. It's a great project though, and I think within a couple years tourists will find their way there. Then for lunch we made it to the authentic chinese village. For lunch we of course hit the only chinese restaurant. We ordered our food and relaxed, but after a while began wondering where our driver had taken off to. My fiance searched the back room to find that the "Thai" drivers leading each group were off in the back cooking our meals :) So I guess it was Chinese food Thai style. The food was nice though and afterwards we hiked through some more hill tribe villages before heading back.
The next day we took another day trip out to visit some waterfalls and coffin caves.
Tham Blah (Fish Cave)
On the way out we stopped at the Pha Sua Waterfall which was absolutely gorgeous. There are another 3-4 levels you can hike to if you have the time. I made it to the second level and thought it was great. I wish we had more time to spend here, but we soon left to the "Tham Bla" (fish cave). This place was a very well kept park that attracts copious amounts of Thai people coming to see the blue cave fish. Well they aren't actually cave fish, they just like to swim in and out of a cave, but it's still pretty neat. They are this creepy color of blue and some of them have no eyes. But since all they do is swim into the cave and get fed by humans I suppose their eyes aren't a necessity.
The next two days were spent white water rafting down the Pai river which was a lot of fun.
Village above Mae La Na
Our guide was great and we were with a nice group from London. The overnight trip included a nice dinner and campfire which was swell. Not so pleasant was the drunken singing until about 3:30am, most of which had become jibberish around 2am. It was alright though, and thanks to a light night of drinking we were in the best shape come morning :) The second day was great and we had some nice cliff jumping opportunities as well as some surprisingly big rapids.
After returning from rafting we spent the final day going to see the coffin caves and the cave Tham Lod. They were both amazing. The cave was great and luckily we spoke thai because the tours were all done completely in Thai. The caves are nothing compared to those of New Mexico, but they were pretty nice nonetheless.
Tham Lod Cave
I also learned that "Jon Bin" ("dish fly" is the direct translation) means UFO which I thought was pretty funny. Then afterwards we hit up the coffin caves. This hike was straight up a path that wasn't very well marked. But eventually we made it to see the remains of these massive teak coffins. They were pretty impressive and thank god the inhabitants were long gone. Overall the day was very fun and productive.
I would highly recommend Mae Hong Son to any traveller coming through Thailand. The best way to take in the province is through day trips, but they are worth it. Thus proving there is more to this province than just the town of Pai.