Accessible only by steep, endlessly curving mountain roads, or via a flight to the provincial capital, Mae Hong Son (จังหวัดแม่ฮ่องสอน) is arguably Thailand’s most remote province. It's thickly forested and mountainous, and, far from the influence of sea winds, the air is often misty, with ground fog in the winter and smoke from slash-and-burn agriculture during the hot season. Mae Hong Son’s location along the border with Myanmar ensures that it is a crossroads for ethnic minorities (mostly Karen, with some Hmong, Lisu and Lahu), as well as Shan and Burmese immigrants.
These days, Mae Hong Son's natural splendours – waterfalls and caves especially – mean the province is firmly on the tourist trail. But the vast majority of visitors don’t make it much further than Pai, leaving plenty of space for those who do venture to the less-visited areas.