The rugged landscape bordering Burma to the west of Chiang Mai is among the most spectacular in Thailand. Mae Hong Son itself is a centre for trekking and home to numerous fine Burmese-style wats.
The great majority of Mae Hong Son province belongs to various hill tribes: mostly Karen, Lisu, Hmong and Lahu, with only 2% of the population ethnic Thai. A popular loop of the area takes in Pai, Mae Hong Son and Mae Sariang.
Many of Northern Thailand's 800,000 minority peoples: known collectively as hill tribes, or Chao Khao, still live in traditional bamboo longhouses and farm in the highland areas of northern Thailand and across the border in Burma and Laos. While the Chao Khao share some common traits, each tribe has distinctive dress, language and customs.
A visit or overnight stay in a village is a great way to learn about their varied culture and heritage, and to buy tribal handicrafts.