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Mae Salong

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'''Mae Salong''' (แม่สลอง), also known as '''Doi Mae Salong''' (ดอยแม่สลอง) and '''Santikhiri'''(สันติคีรี), is in [[Chiang Rai (province)|Chiang Rai Province]], [[North (Thailand)|northern Thailand]].
[[Image:Photo_199.jpg|thumb|A village at Mae Salong]]
Mae Salong is a village settled by remnants of the former Nationalist (Kuomintang) Chinese Army 93rd Division who moved from Burma to Thai territory in 1961, after the Communist Party under Mao Zedong consolidated its hold on China. Originally supported by a military base biding its time for an attack back, funding its arms purchases with opium production, — notorious warlord Khun Sa lived a few kilometers away in Ban Hin Taek — in the 1980s 1970s the Thai government integrated this enclave into Thai society struck a deal with the renegades: the battle-hardened KMT would help them fight Thailand's own Communist insurgents, and as would be granted citizenship in exchange. As part of the integration process introduced a policy of substituting , opium production for growing was successfully substituted with mountain produce like mushrooms and above all tea, which is now Mae Salong's main product.
TodaySome guidebooks wax lyrical about Mae Salong as a miniature Yunnanese Shangri-La, it is a major tourist attraction but if you come with this image in mind you may be a small-little disappointed: at first glance, Mae Salong looks much like the little Thai town ambience on high hillsit is. However, the crisp climate, the lingering Chinese influence, delicious native Yunnanese dishes and small hotels and guesthouses catering to visitorsstill make this a popular getaway, accessible on a hurried one-day visit but worth stopping in overnight.  ===Climate===In November, sunflowers bloom, but the peak tourist season is during December-February when the hills are alive with white plum blossoms and pinkish ''sakura'' cherry blossoms. It gets cold during this time, so pack a sweater and decent shoes! Tea production gets into gear toward the end of this season, with the smell of roasting tea wafting through the streets, but the same haze and rising temperatures that affect the rest of northern Thailand are in evidence here too from March onward, and the rainy season from June to October is rainy indeed.
==Get in==
===By car===
Drive on highway 1089 between [[Chiang Mai]] and [[Chiang Rai]]. The turn off is next to a police station. From here travel about 13km on some of the most amazingly curvy roads imaginable. The return trip can be undertaken on routes no. 1234 and no. 1130 which wind through Yao and Akha hilltribe villages. From Doi Mae Salong a road leads to Ban [[Tha Ton]], the starting point for the Kok River cruise, a distance of 45 kilometres.
==Get around==
[[Image:Photo_214.jpg|thumb|The Martyr's Memorial Hall]]
* <see name="Chinese Martyrs' Memorial HallMuseum" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">A tribute paid to the KMT settlers of Mae Salong, who fought and sacrified for Thailand in their struggle with communist. It exhibits history of their struggle, along with developments of Mae Salong throughout the years. Reached by a well-signed turn-off from the southern road after the market, a short hike or quick motorbike trip.</see>
* <see name="OTOP Agricultural Agriculture Centre" alt="" address="" directions="opposite Mae Salong Villa" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">This grandly named site &mdash; it's actually just a mostly-closed hut, a map of tea plantations in the area, and a thermometer-equipped viewing point &mdash; is primarily handy if you have your own wheels and want to do a round of the many tea plantations around the town.</see>
* <see name="Phra Boromathat Chedi" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">A ''chedi'' (Thai-style stupa) built on a hill near Mae Salong village, in honour of the late Princess Mother, Srinagarindra. Next to the chedi is the '''Princess Mother Hall''', a modern, Thai-style pavilion outwardly like a temple in appearance, but not containing any religious objects. There are good views across town and west towards Myanmar from up top. There are two ways up top: on foot, follow signs from the village center up the hill towards the Mae Salong Resort and Wat Santikhiri, and then go up the steep 700-step staircase. If you have your own wheels, there's a winding, steep road that starts from behind the tourist market and curves up from behind, with breathtaking hilly views along the Myanmar border.</see>
* <see name="Tomb of General Tuan Xi-Wen" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">The mausoleum of Mae Salong's founder and erstwhile drug warlord, Kuomintang General Tuan Xi-Wen. Located at the end of a road beside a tea house with General Tuan's name, up another steep staircase. Some histories are availableThere's a small museum here, but unfortunately it's all in mandarin, thoughChinese. There are some tea houses nearby, and you can enjoy a spectacular view of Mae Salong there.</see>
* <see name="Wat Santikhiri" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">A modern, standard-issue Thai temple guarding the approach path to the Phra Boromathat Chedi.</see>
* <buy name="Wang Put Tan" alt="" address="" directions="beside Sweet Mae Salong" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">One of the largest producers in the area, you can see the giant golden teapot guarding their plantations in the fields below their flagship store. Various grades of oolong available, from 200 to 1000 baht per 100g, and they'll be happy to serve up a sample.</buy>
For Akha handicrafts, Yunnanese street snacks and cheap Chinese imports, check out the two markets in town.
* <buy name="Morning Market" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">Up the hill and left from the 7-Eleven, true to the name this place opens up at the crack of dawn and most of the action is over by 8 AM, making this a great place for an early breakfast. A few shops do linger open until noon and beyond.</buy>
* <buy name="Tourist Market" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">Opens in the afternoons on the south side of town, with Akha selling local produce (tea, mushrooms, herbs) and knickknacks to tourists.</buy>
[[Image:photo_251.jpg|thumb|Yunnan noodle with bean gravy sold on Mae Salong.]]
Local Chinese-style dishes Take a break from Thai food and try out some Yunnanese cuisine. Dishes worth trying include:* Yunnan noodles (restaurant or morning market) with bean gravy* ''Papa '' cake (, baked glutinous rice with sweet or sour sesame fillings, outside morning marketMorning Market* Soybean drinks Hot soy milk with deep fried dough stick sticks (油条 (morning market''you tiao'')at the Morning Market* Bamboo worm for the bravesbrave. Deep fried and dried, it tastes like crispy cookie.
Outside peak season, supply tends to exceed demand and prices are usually negotiable.
* <sleep name="Akha Guest House" alt="" address="" directions="next to Shin Sane GH" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="">As the name promises, this operation is run by Akha tribesmen, who also arrange treks to their villages. Much the same as Shin Sane.</sleep>
* <sleep name="Gold Dragon Inn" alt="โกลดราก้อน อินน์" address="Doi Mae Salong" directions="" phone="+66-53765009" email="" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="300-800 baht">26 rooms.</sleep>
* <sleep name="Shin Sane Guesthouse" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="">The name means ''Number 1'' in Yunnanese, and it's no idle boast, as this place was the first guesthouse in Mae Salong when it opened back in the 1970s. It's still a pretty good budget option. Rooms with shared bathroom from 50 baht, private bath from 200 baht. The bungalows in the back are quieter.</sleep>
* <sleep name="Central Hill Hotel" alt="เซ็นทรัล ฮิลล์" address="18/4 Mu 1 Doi Mae Salong" directions="opposite 7-Eleven" phone="+66-53765113" email="" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="">It doesn't get more central than this. Small but clean rooms with good views out into the valley. 19 rooms, from 500 baht.</sleep>
* <sleep name="Gold Dragon Inn" alt="โกลดราก้อน อินน์" address="Doi Mae Salong" directions="" phone="+66-53765009" email="" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="300-800 baht">26 rooms.</sleep>
* <sleep name="Khumnaipol Resort" alt="คุ้มนายพล รีสอร์ท" address="58 Mu 1 Doi Mae Salong" directions="" phone="+66-53765001" email="" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="600-2,500 baht">20 rooms.</sleep>
* <sleep name="Mae Salong Resort" alt="แม่สลอง รีสอร์ท" address="3/8 Mu 1 Doi Mea Salong" directions="" phone="+66-53765014" email="" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="500-2,000 baht">Easily the most colorful of Mae Salong's hotels, this place used to be a KMT military training camp and the older army green and brown bungalows look the part. However, these days it's a little underused and the older buildings are pretty grotty; check if they can give you a deal on the newer, nicer ones. There's a small but mildly interesting photo exhibit on the KMT, a good restaurant (see Eat) and nice views down towards town.</sleep>

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