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Falling in Love with Mae Hong Son, all over again

 A renewed love for the beauty of Mae Hong Son, its surroundings and its Cafes

The first time we set foot into that little town almost 9 years ago, we loved Mae Hong Son. Arriving as young 21 year old travel virgins on a speedy mini bus, the town, much like a lot of North Thailand embedded its green mountainous landscapes into our memories. As time progressed having lived in North Thailand as expats for several years now, we accumulated 7 visits to Mae Hong Son. Each time the town lost a little bit of magic, albeit because of bad weather or bad circumstances we started to view Mae Hong Son as a pit stop on the long journey around the 600km + loop from Chiang Mai. Forgetting the reasons why we fell for it originally so long ago.

Mae Hong Son, ThailandMae Hong Sons lovely little lake 

That changed after our most recent trip. It was like everything was on top form for our arrival, the town flashing its bright feathers to seduce us into remembering what we loved about Mae Hong Son from all those years prior. The weather was perfect, warm and cool simultaneously with blue skies streaked with brushes of white. The quiet streets inviting us to walk further in exploration, leading us to new scenes, new viewpoints, new markets and best of all, new cafes!

Mae Hong Son, ThailandSitting on the lake 

We have had our firm favorite places to eat and drink for some time in the small town of Mae Hong Son. But this time it was like our eyes were seeing clearer as we strolled along as pedestrians. Not long after completing a circuit of the well known Chong Kham lake we spotted a little building hiding behind the towns famous Wat.

Mae Hong Son, ThailandExterior of Alawaa Cafe

Alawaa Café, a small trendy coffee shop named after a famous Thai Yai desert, sat proudly on the corner of the lake inviting us in for a beverage as the sun dove gently behind the mighty hill ‘Doi Kong Mu’.

Mae Hong Son, ThailandAlawaa Cafe, Mae Hong Son

We walked in and immediately felt welcome in its urban chic concrete style, sitting down to enjoy a coffee while watching the remainder of the sunset outside the window over the lake.

Mae Hong Son, ThailandAlawaa Cafes trendy interior

The drinks were delicious, much like most of Thailand’s coffee, and we took a moment to relax.

Mae Hong Son, ThailandCappuccino Coffee

That was when we noticed that Alawaa also sells its own homemade soap. A neatly designed square branded with a cool font, the word RUB in large letters crossing its width. It seemed criminal to not pick them all up and sniff them individually before purchasing the smelliest kind.

Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Rub Soaps for sale in the Cafe

We thought the soap was a really cool feature to this interesting little coffee shop and we started to wonder what other places we had failed to find in the pretty little town of Mae Hong Son.

Finding Alawaa was the catalyst that sparked our minds into this new appreciation of the town we thought we knew well enough. We spent that evening reading a magazine about the province; inside was a treasure map listing of side streets, shops and markets we had failed to notice on our previous visits. So we set out the following morning, again on foot, in search of these hidden delights.

Mae Hong Son, ThailandGill found a little street kitty 

Our first stop was the local fruit and vegetable market. Due to a power cut at the lake, the only place to get our early breakfast was from the local farmers and vendors who gathered each morning to sell fresh produce from the surrounding hills.
As we left the shaded rows of tables with Jackfruits and apples in our bags, we took a look back along the street to remember where we had been for future reference. That was when we noticed that the market itself was backed by a beautiful mountain scene, nestled at the end of the street. It was beautiful.

Mae Hong Son, ThailandCoffee Morning Exterior 

With smiles on our faces and fresh fruits in our bellies we continued walking until we came across another cute coffee shop that had eluded our many passes. Coffee morning, a large wooden building full of books stacked so high it resembled a library.

Mae Hong Son, ThailandShelves of books!

With a signpost that mimicked a bus stop and a pretty red post box and bicycle sat outside, we just had to go in to see more.

Mae Hong Son, ThailandSome wise words on the Coffee Morning sign 

Unfortunately due to the power cut the menu had been limited to iced cocoas, so we ordered some and sat down in the comfortable chairs to watch the world go by outside. Thinking about whether we could live in this little remote part of Thailand.

Mae Hong Son, ThailandEnjoying an iced cocoa 

We had to check out from our hotel that day but we couldn’t help feeling that we could have spent much more time enjoying Mae Hong Son. The little treasure map of cafes had barely been touched upon and the surroundings seem to have a new vibrancy to them that made us want to rediscover and explore new parts of the area, with more expendable time on our hands.

Mae Hong Son, ThailandChong Kham Lake 

We left town that afternoon en route to Chiang Mai in our old Ford escort, passing by the secret Mae Hong Son loop café on the way. Enjoying a freshly roasted coffee bean cappuccino from the fire scorched iron kettle and looking out at the amazing green valleys and hills stretched out before us.

Mae Hong Son, ThailandIncredible Mae Hong Son views 

A new appreciation for Mae Hong Son embedded in our hearts.  

Mae Hong Son Cafes Map

View Mae Hong Son Cafes in a larger map

Pet Friendly Hotels in Mae Hong Son

Fern Resort

Boondee House

Herntai Resort

Ban Kiangdoi Hotel

*Other Useful information

The Real Cost of Living in North Thailand – We break down how much we spend in a month
Pet Friendly Hotels in other parts of Thailand? – Looking for Pet Friendly Hotels in other parts of Thailand?
Bringing a dog to Thailand – The ins and outs of Exporting a dog from the UK to Thailand.
Info we have categorized under Pets – Other Posts Related to Edens Dog Life in Thailand. Including cute dog videos and some Pet Friendly Hotel reviews too.

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Did you find this post helpful? Thank us with Coffee and Cake

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We both love coffee! Why not ^treat us^ to a cafe lunch if you found this info useful.

Jmayel, Sacha & Eden El-Haj

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