Mae Sariang is a town in Mae Hong Son Province, Northern Thailand. Located near the Myanmar border, the town is slowly becoming popular with those wanting to trek away from the crowds of Pai and Chiang Mai.
View of Mae Sariang valley
There are 4 or 5 local buses a day from Chiang Mai Arcade bus station, journey time is approx 4hrs(aircon)/5hrs(fan) and around ~100bt, may drop off at edge of town near the museum. There is also a faster minivan service, departures from Chiang Mai Arcade bus station daily at; 9am, 10am, 12noon, 2pm, 5pm. Journey time is approx 3.5hrs and tickets 200bt.
There are regular orange songthaews from Mae Sot, 5-6 hours.
There are 2 Yellow songthaews from the markets over from the main street (ask your guest house where it is). One: goes to Mae La Noi: One: goes to Salaween River. The markets will tell you the times it leaves and times to come back.
The company running the buses from Chian Mai is called Prempracha Company, and you can book online. Booking online doesn't give you a 7-Eleven number and you have to pay 1 hour before the minivan arrives, in cash.
Coming from Mae Sot (south) just follow Rt 105. It's about a 240 km drive. There are a few gas stations along the way (a big one in Mae Ramat and a brand new one just south of Mae Tan) but it is best to fill your tank before leaving Mae Sot. If you almost run out of fuel, drive into one of the villages on the way and ask for a shop where they offer fuel by hand pumps. The road is pretty good in some areas and has been improving. At some points, especially up near the Tak/Mae Hong Son border, there are a few bumps and holes which get worse during the rainy season. There can be mudslides during the rainy season as well.
Coming from Chiang Mai (west) take Rt 108.
Mae Sariang is surrounded by mountains and forests, absolutely beautiful, often missed by tourists. Populated by Shan (Tai Yhai, minority group, who originated from Southern China) and a mix of Hill Tribes, Karen Lawa and Hmong. Influence is Shan culture is visibly felt, women wearing Shan dress (common in the Wat's (temples) to it's architecture and cuisine. The town has many lovely and well-kept Teak wooden shop-houses still today, with newer buildings, exquisite temples and the River Yuam. Take a walk around the village, feel the relaxed and very friendly way of life here. this is definitely the 'village of smiles', people are very friendly. Teak trees are still plenty here. 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.
Mae Sariang is not very big, so you can easily get around walking or renting a bicycle (50 baht/day) from one of the local guest houses. Motorbikes are available for around 200 baht a day as well.
For longer journeys out of the town, you may want to hire a car and driver. Ask any of the local guest houses and they may be able to arrange this for you
For those who are in Mae Sariang in the month of November: Try your level best to visit Mae U Kho, which is about 2-3 hours away. During the month of November, the hills and valleys of Mae U Kho, one of Thailand's most naturally scenic areas, turn to gold when the Dok Bua Tong (Giant Wild Mexican Sunflower, Tithonia Diversifolia) comes into full bloom.
Besides that, there are flower pastures, hill paddy fields and one of Thailand's highest waterfalls: Mae Surin waterfall along the scenic valley route to Mae U Kho. Public transport is scare, you may need to hire car in Mae Hong Son. Weather is quite cool, you may need to bring along some extra clothes (especially bikers).
Mae Sariang, beyond offering visitors areas of exceptional natural beauty and insights into traditional tribal ways of life, has some notable ancient holy sites where tourists are welcome to join the locals in paying their respects for good fortune and prosperity. These sites are together called the Phra That Sii Chom (The 4 "Chom" Reliquaries). The "Wat Prathat" prefix denotes a temple that is believed to house a relic of the Buddha.
- Karen & Lawa Hilltribe Villages, . One of the cultural highlights here are the authentic hilltribe villages scattered all around Mae Sariang. They will not be signposted so may be difficult to find. Thailand Hilltribe Holidays offers guided tours (trekking and by car) of the area. Specializing in responsible travel to the villages and cultural immersion into the local way of life. edit
- Wat Phrathat Chom Chaeng, (At the intersection of the 108 and 105). It is a Central Thai-style Viharn with two Burmese-style Chedi's in the back. There is also a nice looking wooden building which could be the sala or the living quarters of the monks. This mountain-top temple is quiet, peaceful, and definitely outside the normal tourist circuit. Free Entry. edit
- Wat Phrathat Chom Thong, (Less than 200m south along the 105 from the intersection with the 108 turn left. Thai road signs only.). It is visible from far because of its large sitting Buddha image on the hill. From here one has a beautiful view over the Yuam Valley and Mae Sariang Town. A long naga lined stair case leads to the Buddha and both the Ubosot and the Viharn are beautiful buildings in central Thai-style. Free Entry. edit
Burmese roof architecture of Mae Sariang Museum
- Wat Pra That Chom Gitti. Outstanding stupa in typical Lanna design. On the 8th day of first half of the 9th lunar month (around June), a celebration is held here. Free Entry. edit
- Wat Phra That Chom Mon. Northern design, with a festival in July. Impressive murals of Lord Buddha’s lives, painted by local artists. Free Entry. edit
- Mae Sariang Museum, (At the intersection of the 108 and 105). Unfortunately, the museum has fallen victim to a fire (Late October 2015) and is not open. Reconstruction dates are unknown. The burnt remains of the structure can be seen from the 108. The museum was a single-storey raised wooden building in a design which blended traditional Thai Yai wood-carving with northern Thai architectural styles. It was a centre for the display and sale of One Tambol one Product (OTOP) products, and featured presentations about the way of life of tribal peoples including Lua, Thai Yai, Karen, Lawa, and Hmong along with local history. It also had plenty of information for tourists about sites throughout Mae Hong Son. edit
- Maesawanndi Waterfall, 20km from Mae Sariang on the road (to Chiang Mai). After turning off the main road travel for a further 6km. The road runs out. Park on the road and walk. 7 different levels are reached by steps, (manageable). Go swimming on the third level and can walk up to the falling water, it's beautiful. edit
- Tam Boran Buddha Cave, Mae Hong Son road out of Mae Sariang (about 8 km, after the gardens on the right, a small shop on the left, sign is on the Right, you can see the cave from the road, steep hill). Gold and Jade magnificent Buddha statues, absolutely beautiful inside the cave. Dozens of small and huge, beautifully presented in this renovated cave, thousands has been spent. A 'Hidden Treasure' Well worth a visit. A new Wat is being built on the top of the cave. Free entry: edit
- Mae Sariang Lake, On the other side of the canal (across the bridge and road from the town). About 6kms. Beautifully laid out, has shelter over the lake, so take a book or a leisurely walk around the lake. Popular for walking and aerobic groups. Easily takea bike and ride there. Free entry: edit
- Original Teak Homes and Shops, walk around the village and take in the old (walking or take a bike and cycle around the trown). Some beautiful original Teak homes and shops are still standing and being used. Well worth a ride round the town to take the sleepy, very friendly village edit
- Mae Sariang Museum. was burnt to the ground earlier February 2016. No longer there. edit
- Kaew Komol Cave, 28 km on the Mae Hong Son Road (to Mae La Noi - ask locals when you get there for directions). The Cavern can only be found in 3 places in the world. Australia, China and her in Thailand. The caves are one of the most beautiful in Thailand with crystal calcite in the cavern, the calcite mineral or calcium carbonate is crystallized on the cave walks, making the colour white as snow. Discovered in 1993 during an exploration of the area. Inside is 30 meter vertical pothole. Note: take a picture of the inside of the cave on the board outside (there is no map or guide) TAKE A TORCH edit
- Huai Hom Village: Coffee Plantation & Sheep Farm, 28 km on Mae Hong Son Road, (Mae La Noi village). You will see a Coffee Place on the hill. Ask directions. Coffee Plantation and Sheep Farm. Can see how coffee is grown, picked and sorted into production. Sample afterwards. See Sheep Farm sheering wool, how they prepare and dry it into clothing with weaving. Clothes are for sale edit
- Markets: Friday and Sunday night: Saturday morning, Friday: next to Police Station: Sunday in main street with red lanterns overhead: Saturday Mae Hong Son Road. Markets: Friday's next to the Police Station, sample local food, local fruit and bits and pieces. Sunday in main street, all local food. Saturday morning market is huge, along Mae Hong Son road. Take a bike, well worth seeing, has a bit of 'everything' from clothes to a screw driver. See local Hill tribe people shopping there. edit
- Taralod Cave (Thamtaralod Forest Park), 24km from Mae Sariang on the road (to Chiang Mai). After turning off the main road travel for a further 11km (careful, rough road). The road runs out. Park on the road and walk down for about 400m. There you'll find a beautiful stream disappear into a cave. edit
There are far, far fewer tourists making it to Mae Sariang than Pai, etc., so you can be sure that you won't run into any other tourists, and there are no "ethnic shows". For the moment anyway, a much more genuine hill tribe experience. The local villages are much less visited so you may not be able to find a tour leaving during your time in town. Most operators require a minimum of 4 customers per trek. Also be prepared to pay a little more than you would in Chiang Mai or Pai. The cost is outweighed by a much better trekking experience.
- Salawin Tours is a trekking agency in town. Run by the charming Salawin out of his "office". They can organise single- or multi-day treks, elephants, and rafting.
- Some of the hotels and guesthouses have also started organising single day trips- North West Guest house, tel 0897009928/0866704286, has great tours for 1, 2, or 3 days. Kitti and Tukta are the local tour guides at North West. They know Mae Sariang well and will show you all the local sites. Very friendly people!
- A day trip to Mae Sam Laeb is worthwhile. An hour away by Song Thaeu or motorbike, it is a border village overlooking Burma and the Salaween River and is home to Thai and Karen and Burmese alike. 600 baht gets you a one hour boat trip up the Salawin. 
There are two really nice temples on hilltops within 30 minutes by bike. Make sure to pay a visit to Wat Chom Thong.
- Wat Chom Thong: Wat Chom Thong lies south east of Mae Sariang. Take Rural Road Mae Hong Song 4057 out of town and follow it crossing the Yuam river. From the bridge you can already see a giant golden buddha statue on a hill in front of you. Follow the road until you get to an intersection and then take the road through a thai-style gate leading uphill. After a good climb you will reach the temple. You can park your bike at the thai-style gate, if the climb is too steep for you. From up the hill you can enjoy a magnificent view and can take a walk around the temple, featuring some really nice flowers, the giant buddha and a lot of beautiful dragons.
- Wat Phrathat Chom Mon: The Wat lies north west of Mae Sariang. Take the main road with all the big hostels, like riverside and north-west guesthouse out of town, going north. At the end of the road take a left turn. You should cross the Yuam river within minutes. From here you can already see a big golden chedi on the hill to your front-right. At the second intersection go right and follow the road, passing Ban Phamolo School. The entrance to the Wat is now straight in front of you. Take the steps up the hill and enjoy the sight onto Mae Sariang.
Muay Thai lessons
- Muay Thai, 311/7 Moo 1 Bantakam (3 km north of the centre, very near Rt 108), ☎ +66 85 712 6422. Private Thai boxing lessons. The teacher, Meopar, aka Mr. Suphachai Sawakgul, is a former Thai boxer himself. He's an incredibly patient teacher and is very flexible in his teaching hours. Just give him a call and you can probably show up one hour later. Best hours are in the morning though (to avoid the heat). His English is basic but just enough to understand each other. The lessons are held in his garden on a Thai boxing mattress. Boxing gloves are provided, but bring your own (short) pants, towel, and a bottle of water. GPS-coordinates: N 18° 11.386 E 97° 56.109 200 baht per hour. edit
'Entrance' to the Hot Springs near Mae Sariang
To get to Mae Um Long Luang Hot Springs outside of Mae Sariang, you'll need your own transport. Drive east on Rt 108 to Chiang Mai, turn left after about 18 km (GPS: N 18° 09.699 E 98° 01.987), drive another 13 km on an OK road until the signs (GPS: N1 8° 12.290 E 98° 00.620) indicate to leave the road to the left (it's right in a steep corner to the right if you were to continue on the road). Then drive another 2 km on a track (not too good) and when the road splits into two, turn right on the track that leads down. There you can park your vehicle and walk over the bamboo bridge to the hot springs. The people are friendly and speak barely any English. There are two huge baths up the hill that they fill with hot water - bring your own towel. You can buy a few basic snacks and drinks. You'll get a remote feeling of the place. The setting and scenery is special; Lovely picnic area, and a few cabins for sleeping.
The Tribe-to-Tribe Marathon is a standard length marathon that takes runners all throughout the town centre and the surrounding rice fields, and the proceeds benefit local Karen children.
There is a market twice a week selling all the usual suspects of fruit and cheap clothes.
- Inthira The largest and most popular restaurant in Mae Sariang. Large variety, great portions and superb food. The owners are lovely. Ti, the main cook, makes a great red curry. The Tom-Yum Goong (prawn soup) is also particularly good. Very laid back atmosphere, fast service, and can accommodate large groups! Highly recommended! Website here.
- Leelawadi is on a crossroad before Inthira. This place is reasonably priced and looked like a family run business. It has an open road view and stuffed with all the antiques related to flying. They have an excellent vegetable fried rice. Rest of the food was also decent enough. The lady who cooks is very sweet and accommodative to your diet. On few days there is a market on this street.
- River House Hotel. They do a truly excellent steak for 180 baht, and the open-air restaurant there overlooks the river. Opens for dinner from 5:30pm. Note this is not the same River House Hotel - which is next to Redwood and Coriander restaurant and is more up-market.
- Sawadee, overlooks the river is excellent and they stock BeerLao for only 80 baht a bottle (33 cl). The owner has excellent English and she cooks a good, if slightly small American breakfast. If you like, or want to try, Isaan-style Som Tam, Sawadee is the place to try it. Ask for it 'pet nid-noi' if you are afraid of it being too spicy.
- Tukki's Riverside Restaurant Sits on the opposite bank of the Yuam River right across the bridge on the south end of town. Great pad Thai with the best river view in town and the price is very decent. Has a pool table, new bar, and expanded menu.
Everywhere worth drinking in is along the river. Sawadee is the place if you like Beer Lao (who doesn't?). Northwest Guest house also has a lovely bar and kitchen open until 23:00.
- Ban Pangsariang Guesthouse, across from Mae Sariang Guesthouse. Nice family owned guesthouse with 4 fan rooms, each with private bathroom and hot water. They offer Thai food, coffee, and ice cream. Wifi was good, beds were very hard. As of February 2017 closed and up for sale. 300 baht. edit
- Mae Sariang Guesthouse, (On the corner across the street from North West Guesthouse). Very basic accommodation, with poorly constructed walls, which means it can be noisy at night. But appears to be the cheapest place in town. Soap and towel are provided, now has wifi. 200-300. edit
- North West Guesthouse, 81 Moo 12 Bankad (from bus station; go out, turn left, take first right, and right at the end of the soi. It's 20 m up on your right.), . Lovely, wooden, if basic, guest house near the river, and run by an enthusiastic and welcoming Thai couple. Has fan and air-con rooms. Great value for money, simple, clean, rooms. Very friendly staff and great atmosphere, a pleasure to stay in. Also has great food, made by the lovely owner Tuk-ta. All of it is delicious, especially good if you want to try some Thai such as pad pong curry, satay chicken, and salawin fish cake. If there is something you would like they will make it. And she loves to teach you to cook Thai food! Rooms 250 single shared bathroom, 300 double, aircon for another 50, and up to 400 baht for double air-con ensuite with Internet PC in the room. edit
- PS @River View Guest House, 79 Langpanich Rd, Mae Sariang (From the 108 follow the main road (1194) through town, turning right at the end. The hotel is 100m up the road on the left), ☎ (053) 681 049, (083) 471 8334, . Clean basic hotel over-looking the river, with A/C, TV, and surpisingly good Wifi. 250(single)/400/500 baht per night. edit
There's a really cheap laundry on Th Mae Sariang Road, opposite of Wat Jong Sung adjacent to the Mitaree Hotel. One Piece 3 Baht, Underwear 1 Baht and Socks free. There's no sign, but you can see a washing machine standing in the shop.
Mae Sariang is one stop on the Mae Hong Son Loop. Continue north to Mae Hong Son(3hrs)
or east-northeast to Chiang Mai(4hrs).
Daily and regular buses depart from Mae Sariang bus station to Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai (7am, 9am, 10:30am)
Sombat tours bus company runs overnight coaches to Bangkok (11hrs)
Kan Airlines also flies from Mae Sariang to Chiang Mai.
From the bus station you can catch a songthaew to the border town of Mae Sot.