924km (574 miles) NW of Bangkok; 355km (221 miles) NW of Chiang Mai via Pai; 274km (170 miles) NW of Chiang Mai via Mae Sariang

Not far from the Burmese border, Mae Hong Son, the provincial capital of Mae Hong Son province, is the urban center of this large patch of scenic woodlands, waterways, and unique hill-tribe villages. The town's surrounding hills, famed for their eerie morning mist, burst into color each October and November when tung buatong (wild sunflowers) come into bloom. The hot season (Mar-Apr) has temperatures as high as 104°F (40°C), and the rainy season is longer (May-Oct), with several brief showers daily.

The mountains around Mae Hong Son are scarred by slash-and-burn agriculture and evidence of logged teak forests from departed hill-tribe settlements. Roads, airfields, and public works projects have since opened up the scenic province, as poppy fields gave way to terraced rice paddies and garlic crops. At the same time, the surge in tourism brought foreigners trekking into villages where automobiles were still unknown. Although the busy town of Mae Hong Son continues to grow and develop, its picturesque valley setting and lovely Burmese-style wats (temples) are still the star attractions here.