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Art & Culture | Festivals and Religion | Foods | Written & Spoken Language | Population & Administration
Business Resources | Transportation & Communications | Goverment office

Art & Culture

     In the past, trade and commerce with Burma meant that local art and culture were influenced by Burmese styles, which can be seen, for example, in the religious art and architecture that represent a mixture of Shan and Burmese styles. This is most clearly demonstrated in Buddha statues and temple roofs, which are designed in layers and decorated with engraved galvanized iron.
     The Shan people, who represent the largest ethnic group in Maehongson, wear distinctive traditional clothing. The men wear wide legged trousers, similar in style to the Northern Thai, and long sleeved shirts with round collars, fastened with fabric buttons down the middle. The women traditionally wear sarongs and beautifully embroidered blouses, either short or long sleeved that are fastened across the chest from left to right. Both Shan men and women use woven shoulder bags and hats that are called gub tai. They speak their own Shan language, often called Thai Yai. Apart from the Shan people, there are several other ethnic groups living in Maehongson that all have their own distinctive styles of art and traditions, and this is one special reason to come and visit the area.

Wat Chongkam and chongkam park in the central town : photo by P.Sirima
Festivals & Religion

     As most of the people in Maehongson were (and many still are) farmers,
the traditional ceremonies that take place throughout the year reflect the rhythms of rice cultivation.
  • In December

  • (Shan people call this month duan jeng) and January (duan gum), during the cold winter months after the rice has all been harvested, the local people make khao lam, which is a kind of sweet made from cooking rice inside bamboo sticks, and khao buk, which is steamed sticky rice pounded with sesame seeds. These sweets are made as offerings to Buddha and also to give out to friends and neighbors. During this time there are no specific religious festivals.
  • In February

  • (duan sam) the people celebrate the tradition of khao ya goo by giving out red sticky rice parcels. They make these by first of all steaming the sticky rice and mixing it with sugar cane, coconut and peanuts. They take the rice cakes to the temple to make offerings and also give them out to their friends and neighbors.
  • In March

  • (duan see) heralds the start of the very important festival of Poi Sang Long, which is the ordination of young Shan boys as novice monks.
  • In April

  • (duan ha) there is the festival of Songkran, during which time the people prepare food and offerings to take to make merit at the temples.
  • In May

  • (duan hok) the festival of Poi Ja Dee takes place, during which time the people collect sand and take it to the temples to make little chedis in the temple grounds during the time of the full moon and they all join together to make merit.
  • In June

  • (duan jed) the people make offerings to the village spirits at various sites throughout the area.
  • During July, August and September

  • (duan bet, gao, sip) the tradition of Dang Som Doh Long is held, which consists of making offerings of specially prepared food for the older people who are spending the Buddhist Lent months in the temples.
  • In October

  • (duan sipet) the festival of Hen Som Go Ja is held, which consists of making offerings to relatives who have already passed away. There are also celebrations to mark the end of the Lent season, or Jong Para. During the evening the people make processions carrying hand made castle like structures (to welcome the Buddha back from heaven where he went during the Lent season to visit his mother) to the temples, or else place them outside their homes to bring merit to their families. During these ceremonies there is music and dancing. Mostly the dancing is done by dancers dressed up as mythological creatures, such as the mythological half bird-half human ginaree and the mythological yak, which is held by two dancers, rather like a pantomime horse.

    Budha in Muaytor temple
    The Buddha in Wat muay tor
    Photo by : P. Sirima

    Poy Sang Long Festival
    Photo by : P. Sirima

    Poy Sang Long Festival
    Photo By : P. Sirima

         The people of Maehongson eat rice as their staple food. Recommended dishes include geang hang lae, which is made from pork amongst many other things, and can be found for sale in the local morning market. The preparation of food depends both on the everyday lives of the people and their merit making traditions. Usually, the men prepare the food for important festivals, such as Poi Sang Long (ordination of novice monks) and Poi Ja Dee (sand chedis) The most important ingredient of Shan food is tua naw kep, which are round flat cakes, 5''-6" in diameter, made from dried, fermented soya beans.
  • A famous Shan sweet is suay tamin.
  • Which is made from sticky rice that is steamed and then sugar is added. The mixture is put in a dish, covered with coconut milk and cooked over charcoals.
  • Alawa
  • Is similar to suay tamin but is instead made from rice flour and cooked with coconut milk, butter or durian.
  • Bamong
  • Is made from flour and sodium bicarbonate, and mixed with coconut milk and sugar. There are many other kinds of sweets, such as khao tom glauy (steamed bananas and sticky rice), khao tom tua (steamed rice and soya beans) and khao tom gathi (steamed rice and coconut milk).

    Written and Spoken Language

    The above words can be translated as "Greetings to everyone, and welcome to Maehongson". The Shan or Thai Yai people of Maehongson, who have a long and rich history, also have their own individual written language. The letters are similar to Northern Thai, or Lanna. There are a total of 17 consonants and many of the sounds made are similar to Thai. The spoken form of Shan sounds a little like Northern Thai, and Shan is still widely spoken throughout the Maehongson region.

    Population and Administration

    On December 2006, there was a total of 256,729 citizens. The five ethnic groups of hill tribe people, including Karen, Hmong, Lawa, Lahu and Lesu, account for around 50% of the total population.
  • Maehongson Muang District : 25,898 males, 23,404 females, totaling 49,302 citizens

  • Pai district: 14,452 males, 13,086 females, totaling 27,538 citizens.

  • Pangmapha district: 10,889 males, 9,569 females, totaling 20,458 citizens

  • Khun Yuam district: 9,408 males, 8,561 females, totaling 17,969 citizens

  • Mae La Noi: 15,692 males, 15,065 females, totaling 30,757 citizens

  • Mae Sariang: 24,894 males, 24,039 females, totaling 48,933 citizens

  • Sop Moei: 21,584 males, 20,956 females, totaling 42,540 citizens

  • Proportion of population to land
    Proportion of population to land mass outside the municipality: 17 people per square kilometer
    Proportion of population to land mass within the municipality: 1 234 people per square kilometer
    Birth rate: 1.57 %
    Death rate: 0.38%
    Population increase: 1.19%

    The population of Maehongson is composed of various ethnic groups. Most of the people living in Maehongson municipality, and Pai, Pangmapha, Khuan Yuam and Mae Sariang districts are of Shan ancestry, and called themselves Shan or Dai. In the past they migrated from the Shan State in northeastern Burma. Apart from these Shan people, there are many migrant workers at present crossing from the Shan State into Maehongson province to look for work. The hill tribe people come from various ethnic groups, the Karen being the largest. The Karen people have lived in this area for more than 100 years, and can be separated into 2 groups: Pwo Karen, who can be found in Mae Sariang and Sop Moei districts, and Skaw Karen who can be found in every district. The Lahu include two groups: Black Lahu and Red lahu.
  • The Lesu can be found around Pai and Bangmapha.

  • The Lawa people live in Mae La Noi and Mae Jem in Chiang Mai province.

  • The Hmong account for the smallest tribal group in the region, dotted across the whole area and including two groups: White Hmong and 'Patterned' Hmong, who are named after the colors on the embroidered skirts of the Hmong women.

  • The Padong, or Long-Necked Karen, live in Ban Nai Soi, Ban Nam Pieng Din and Ban Huay Sua Tao.
  • The Haw Chinese are the Chinese Nationalists from the 93rd Regiment and their descendants who fled China during the revolution and settled in Pai, Pangmapha and Maehongson municipalities. In some places they have set up their own villages or communities, composed only of Haw Chinese, such as Sandisuk village in Pai district and Mae Aw village in Maehongson.

  • Maehongson is divided into 7 administrative districts:

    1. Maehongson municipality, composed of 7 tambons (sub-districts) and 66 villages (1 tambon within the municipality)
    2. Mae Sariang district, composed of 6 tambons and 70 villages.
    3. Khun Yuam district, composed of 6 tambons and 42 villages.
    4. Mae La Noi district, composed of 8 tambons and 69 villages.
    5. Pai district, composed of 7 tambons and 61 villages.
    6. Sop Moei district, composed of 6 tambons and 50 villages.
    7. Bangmapha district, composed of 4 tambons and 36 villages.

    Business Resources

    Mae hong son province has had banks and exchance office.
    The list of Bank's office and district brance.
    Bangkok Bank : Maehongson , Masa riang district.
    Thai Farmers Bank : Maehongson, Mae Sariang district.
    Krung Thai Bank : Maehongson, Maehongson airport (Exchance office), Pai district , Khun Yuam district, Mae Sariang district.
    Thai Military Bank : Maehongson, Mae Sariang district.
    Bank of Ayuthaya : Maehongson.
    Thai Savings Bank : Maehongson, Mae Sariang district.
    Maehongson province : Borders on the Shan State, Burma to the north
    Borders on Thasongyang district of Tak province to the south
    Borders on Mae Jem district of Chiang Mai province to the east
    Borders on Hod district of Chiang Mai province to the west
    The province has borders with the Shan State, the Kayah State and the Kotulay States in Burma.

    Maehongson is the most mountainous province in Thailand.
    It is composed of a total of 13 814.4 square kilometers,
    11 981 square kilometers of which are jungle and mountainside,
    which accounts for 90% of the total area.
    The province is situated in the north of the country and, being
    mountainous and thickly forested, the seasons are markedly different.
    Mist covers the mountaintops throughout the year, from the frost in the winter months,
    from the burning of the forests that occurs during the dry season and from the clouds in the rainy season.
    Maehongson is often called the City of Three Mists.
    Natural resources
    There are 4 main rivers:
    1. Pai River
    2. Yuam River
    3. Mae Lamad River
    4. Salween (or Nam Kong) River
    The forests of the province include many kinds of trees and plants, such as teak, Burmese ebony, hardwoods and many others.

    Transportation and Communications
    The Telecommunications Authority of Thailand offers an international telephone service, and there are several public telephone booths in the city where cards can be used for overseas calls. Throughout the province there are public telephones for national calls. In some districts mobile phones cannot be used. The 2 methods of transportation include air and road, and goods can be delivered by truck on highway 108 (Chiang Mai-Mae Sariang- Maehongson) or Highway 1029 (Chiang Mai-Pai-Maehongson).

    Goverment office contact and website

    THAILAND's Country Code is 66

  • Mae hong son, Muang district

  • Srisangwan Hospital : 0 5361 1378, 0 5361 1488
    Muang police station : 0 5361 1239
    Mae hong son airport : 0 5361 1057
    Municipality of Maehongson : 0 5361 2016
    Mae hong son city hall : 0 5361 2158
    Mae hong son police tourist : 0 5361 1812, 0 5361 1952
    Mae hong son Immigration : 0 5361 1106, 0 5361 2106
    Mae hong son customs duty : 0 5361 1041, 0 5361 1920
    Emergency accident call : 0 5361 1239
    Mae hong son culture center : 0 5361 2079
    Meteorology : 6127853
    Mae hong son TAT ( Touristsm authority of Thailand): 0 53611 027-8
  • Khun yuam district goverment contact

  • Hospital : 691017, 691128
    Police station : 691115
    Post office : 691104
    Culture center : 691013
  • Pai District

  • Hospital : 699211
    Police station : 699217-9
    Post office: 699208
  • Mae sariang district

  • Hospital : 681027,681394
    Police station : 681309
    Immigration : 681339
    Customs duty : 681312
    Maes sariang christian Hospital : 681032
    Post office : 681356
  • Mae lanoi district

  • Hospital : 689060
    Police station : 689097-8
    Post office: 689017
  • Pang mapha

  • Hospital : 617152-6
    Police station : 617---
    Post office : 617165
  • Sob moei

  • Hospital : 618080-2, 618098-9
    Police station : 618109-10
    Post office : 618 - ---