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Mae Hong Son Loop Itinerary | Distances

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  • Mae Hong Son Loop Itinerary | Distances

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    Day 1: Chiang Mai – Chiang Dao – Pai | 127 Miles (205 km), 5 Hours

    This magnificent stretch of road north of Mae Rim really sets the scene for this journey. Although many riders taking the north route head straight to Pai, the 50 mile (80km) deviation to Chiang Dao, a sleepy town nestled amongst a ring of vast limestone cliffs, is well worth the effort. The tarmac on this stretch, which winds its way through open expanses of verdant farmland and dusty towns, to sky-high gorges and vine-covered rocky outcrops, is in great condition, which is helpful if you’re still getting used to being on a bike.

    One of the main highlights of Chiang Dao, known as the "City of the Stars", is the awe-inspiring cave complex about 3 miles (5km) out of town. It has more than 7 miles (12km) of stalactite-strewn tunnels to wander through. Some you can explore on your own, while others need a guide and a lantern (100B;$3). The town itself feels forgotten and receives little in the way of tourism, yet there are some decent cafes and guesthouses within the vicinity. The turnoff to Pai and route 1095 is where the real bikers’ paradise begins – 762 bends wind their way through the steep mountain trails, over hills, and through river valleys. The curves are tight and often slippery or gravel-strewn, so take it slow. The descent into Pai itself – through paddy fields so green they almost glow – is wonderful. There are loads of places to eat, drink and sleep here – Sabai Garden Bungalows (8 Th Wiang Tai) on the outskirts is a good option. If you’ve got a spare day or two up your sleeve you won't have any trouble whiling them away at Jazz House Pai, eating Tom yum soup, drinking strong cocktails at sundown, and listening to live music.

    Day 2: Pai – Soppong – Mae Aw / Ban Rak Thai | 78 Miles (125 km), 2 Hours

    The most scenic stretch of road on the loop lies just beyond Pai – sharp hairpins and epic panoramas across a landscape that could be mistaken for the set of Jurassic Park. Charming little Soppong is worth a stop, if just for a coffee. The muddy Lang river runs along the lower flank of the town, which is lovely to watch from the teak terrace of the Cave Lodge. With local Shan food and whole-wheat bread and muffins fresh off a wood-fire oven, it’s an ideal spot to recuperate. Rooms are available from 800B ($24) if you feel like staying on to do some trekking in the area – start with a visit to the Lod cave, just five minutes away, whose mouth fills with more than 300,000 swifts at sunset.

    About 10 miles (16km) outside Mae Hong Son, just after the turnoff to Fish Cave, is a small right fork onto a concrete road. Turn off and glide through the paddies toward the Chinese outpost village of Mae Aw, also known as Ban Rak Thai, right on the border with Myanmar. A short while into the 25 mile (40km) stretch, the scenery will feel reminiscent of medieval China; tea plantations are laid out across the wild scrubland in a patchwork of browns and dark greens, Mandarin scripture covers wooden teahouses and, as you reach the village itself, a serene glassy lake comes quietly into view. Get yourself a steaming cup of Chinese black tea and enjoy the tranquility. Guesthouses on the lake cost from 300 THB.

    Day 3: Ban Rak Thai – Khun Yuam – Mae Sariang – Mae Chaem | 124 Miles (200 km), 3-4 Hours

    Once you hit Mae Hong Son town (City of Three Mists) the road seems to level out. Hairpins change into sweeping racetrack curves, which are exceptionally fun to ride. The city itself tends to attract Thai and Chinese holidaymakers. There are guesthouses and restaurants surrounding the banks of Jom Kham Lake and the town is a good base for day rides.

    Khun Yuam, 53 miles (85km) south of Mae Hong Son town, is a stopping point for one main reason: a moment of deliberation. Continue south and onto the open plains of Mae Sariang or head inland on route 1263 to visit Namtok Mae Surin National Park, home to one of Thailand's most beautiful waterfalls. Layered upon multiple levels of rocks and hemmed by a vertical wall of karst rock and viridian jungle, Mae Surin waterfall's sheer 590ft (180m) drop should be a reason good enough to convince any rider to take a break from the throttle.

    Keep in mind that the route to Mae Sariang is much easier, yet the latter is a terrific adventure – granted you have good tires and decent suspension. A rough and inhospitable stretch thanks to large potholes and rocks, it’s tough riding. Mae Chaem is the last chance saloon town before the long climb to the summit of Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s tallest mountain. It’s a good spot to refuel both the bikes and yourself for the evening. There are very few places to stay here, but the Mae Chaem Resort, just off the main strip, is comfortable, clean and it has a swimming pool.

    Day 4: Mae Chaem – Doi Inthanon – Chiang Mai | 108 Miles (175 km), 1hr 45min

    It can be a misty ride up to the mountain summit, especially in the rainy season, but the wide, open roads make it easy to navigate for the most part. A very steep route carves its way through a swathe of cool forest and if the weather is clear at the summit you’ll be in for a magnificent spectacle. If it’s cloudy (as it often is) the view may be a little underwhelming. But we think it’s worth the risk.

    If you are not ready to leave this beautiful slice of northern Thailand just yet, consider staying inside the Doi Inthanon National Park, where the local rangers rent fully equipped cottages, or you can camp at the Dong Son campground near the top of 8415 ft-high (2565m) Doi Inthanon peak. Rise early and strike on the short 1.6 miles (2.7km) Kew Mae Pan Hiking Trail to see some of Thailand’s best scenery at sunrise.

    It’s a simple ride back to Chiang Mai’s comforts on the overwhelmingly uninteresting route 108, but that said, it does give you time to reflect on that epic journey behind you.

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    When to go: the best times to drive the Mae Hong Son loop

    The best time to ride on the Mae Hong Son loop is during the region’s two dry seasons, from November to February (cool) and March to June (hot), when rains are less likely to spoil the fun. The cool season is particularly nice as the fresh weather makes it more pleasant to be outdoors, and the landscapes color up in a rainbow of wildflowers in bloom. This said, in recent years northern Thailand has suffered severe air pollution in late winter (January–March) due to local farmers burning stubble. Visibility is affected, and a facemask is necessary. The air clears up by April, which is however the hottest month. If planning to ride between July and September, carry proper rain gear or a poncho and be prepared to ride through the monsoonal rains. Bear in mind the cool season between October and March is also the most crowded, with both domestic and foreign tourists.Motorcycle rental: where to get your wheels
    Take your time when choosing a bike to rent. Chiang Mai is the best place to look as it has an enormous variety of shops and rental outlets offering similar hardware. It’s certainly possible to complete the loop on one of Thailand’s ubiquitous 90cc automatic scooters, but bigger is usually better on this kind of ride – just remember to check your insurance to see what engine size you’re covered for. Something like a Kawasaki KLX150 off-road bike is good as it has an excellent suspension and ride quality. Try POP Big Bike (Kotchasan Road), where prices range from 900 THB for smaller models to 3500 THB per day for the classy Honda Africa Twin. Other bike shops worth checking out in Chiang Mai include Marble Motorcycle For Rent (131/2 Moon Muang Rd) and TBB Motorcycle Adventures (438/13 Chiang Mai Land Soi 7).

    Rules of the Road: Helmets and Insurance
    Wearing a helmet is compulsory in Thailand, and riders will be fined if found without. Getting travel insurance is a recommended, especially because good hospitals are non-existent outside of Chiang Mai, and in the case of a severe crash you will have to be flown back to the city. Most rental companies insure their bikes under Thailand’s Compulsory Motor Insurance which covers third parties and passengers, but make sure your vehicle comes with all the required paperwork because police in these remote locations have very short patience for foreigners.

    How to tour the Mae Hong Son Loop without a Motorbike
    Visiting the Mae Hong Son loop is possible even for those who can’t ride or are not comfortable driving a motorcycle in a foreign country.
    • By Public Transport
      With the loop’s increased popularity, mini-van and local songthaew (pick-up trucks adapted to share taxi) services are ubiquitous between the key towns along the route. Tickets are cheap, but these buses don’t offer any flexibility in terms of stopping and exploring the sights along the route, and can also be uncomfortable for those who suffer from motion sickness – remember that there are more than a thousand twists and bends along these mountain roads. Local transportation is also very limited around Mae Hong Son, particularly for the charming village of Ban Rak Thai.
    • By Rental Car and Taxi
      Rental cars and taxis are the safest option to give untrained motorcycle riders the freedom to explore the Mae Hong Son loop as they please. Taxis with drivers cost 4000/5000 THB per day, plus the cost of daily accommodation for the drivers. Note: drivers rarely speak very good English. The other option is renting a car and self driving. In general, any foreign driving license in English carrying a photo of the driver is valid in Thailand, but to avoid potential issues with rental companies, especially if booking online, it’s best to get an International Driver’s Permit before traveling to Thailand. Global budget car search engineEconomy Bookings offers good deals in the region: as a guideline, the cost of an air-conditioned car starts from 6500 THB per week. Check more information on the Thailand page of the International Drivers Association.
    • By Private Tour
      It’s possible to travel along the loop using local tour operators. Mae Hong Son-based Mae Hong Son Holidays is a one-stop shop for guided local tours ranging from one to eight days in length, and vehicle rentals with trained local guides. Thailand Hilltribe Holidays organizes five-day trips including a homestay with the Kayan ethnic group.
    Tips for riding the Mae Hong Son Loop
    • Always wear a helmet; full-face if possible.
    • Ensure rental bikes come with third-party insurance as a minimum, and your own insurer covers motorbike travel. Read the fine print to find out exactly what you’re covered for, and how much excess is chargeable.
    • If you have insufficient motorcycle riding experience or are new to driving in Thailand, consider using another form of transport to tackle the Mae Hong Son loop. Not only does the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Thailand consider Road 1095 (the northern part of the loop) among the country’s most dangerous, but the country is also considered the world’s most deadly places for motorcyclists. In other words, please don’t strike off on the Mae Hong Son loop by motorbike if you aren’t a very confident rider.
    • Try to avoid leaving your passport with the motorcycle rental agency even if it’s requested as bonafide proof for the safe return of your rental. Opt for a cash deposit instead. Passport-based scams are common, especially when using the cheaper mom and pop agencies that can be found all over Chiang Mai.
    • Accommodation along the loop is best booked in advance, especially during the peak season between October and March.
    Last edited by Tripadvisor; 10-23-2022, 05:09 PM.

  • #2
    Thailand Self-Drive Tours | Mae Hong Son Loop Map
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    • #3
      Affordable Hotel Accommodation along the Mae Hong Son Loop
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      Mae Hong Son Hotels, Resorts and Guesthouses

      B2 Mae Hong Son Premier Hotel

      is a sleek new spot among the best hotels in Mae Hong Son that is located in a central location which is the perfect place for a romantic getaway, family holiday or business function. The hotel rooms are modern and tastefully decorated with washed concrete walls and floors and accents of brick and wood. Rain showers, locally inspired decor and stunning views of the Mae Hong Son mountains provide a peaceful atmosphere. The hotel also has a huge outdoor pool to cool off in.

      Ngamta Hotel
      is located three minutes walk away from the famous Wat Chong Kham temple close to the lake. This wooden teak hotel is a cosy home away from home with all the mod cons for a comfortable stay. The friendly staff are always on hand and the in-house restaurant serves delicious local dishes.

      Fern Resort
      is a laid-back sanctuary surrounded by lush jungle. Each bungalow is beautifully decorated and includes all the niceties for an extra comfortable stay. Relax on the terrace, swim in the outdoor pool or enjoy the open-air restaurant and barbeque nights to mingle with fellow guests.

      Mae Hong Son Mountain Inn Hotel & Resort
      is a colourful and quirky place to stay. The interior design resembles an antique museum and is both vibrant and artistic. Local cultural influences and teak wood shine through and make for fantastic photo opportunities. There is a restaurant and an outdoor pool for guests to enjoy during their stay.

      The Imperial Mae Hong Son Resort
      is arguably one of the most upmarket accommodation options in Mae Hong Son. Located on the outskirts of town this huge resort is an ideal place for hosting an event or place to stay with everything onsite. The Imperial Mae Hong Son Resort has 104 guest rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, lounge/bar, restaurant and a spa. There is also a children’s pool and childcare available, ideal for a stress-free family holiday.

      Huentai Resort
      has a rustic homestay atmosphere and is suitable for those travelling on a budget. Choose from rooms in the big house or garden bungalows, both come with ensuite bathrooms. There are communal lounge areas with a small book library and swings and sofas to relax on. This is an ideal place if you intend to stay for a while as you can bargain for a cheaper per-month rate.
      Last edited by Tripadvisor; 10-23-2022, 05:19 PM.


      • #4
        Hotel and Resort Accommodation in/around Pai
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        Oia Pai Resort
        Featuring Mediterranean architecture and a fine restaurant, The Oia Pai Resort offers eco-friendly accommodation with free WiFi. Free shuttles go to Pai Walking Street, Pratad Mae Yen temple, Pai Airport and the local fruit factory. Guests can also enjoy kayaking. Uniquely designed, modern air-conditioned rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV, minibar and personal safe. Some rooms have a sofa and balcony. En suite bathrooms come with either a bathtub or shower. Surrounded by a man-made saltwater lake, The Oia Pai Resort provides free bicycle rentals. Light meals and drinks can be enjoyed at the snack bar, accompanied by the beautiful scenery of Pai.​

        Reverie Siam
        Offering 2 outdoor pools and an all-day Mediterranean and contemporary Thai cuisine restaurant, Reverie Siam is located in Pai. Guests can enjoy extensive collection of wines and live performances. It features traditional Thai with vintage colonial style accommodation with air conditioning and free Wi-Fi access, which is available in all areas. On-site parking is possible. Situated on the back of Pai River, Reverie Siam is just a 5-minute ride from Pai Walking Street and a 10-minute ride from Pai Airport. Chiang Mai International Airport is situated 85 km away. The van transit with chauffer can be arranged. Each well-decorated unit features a private balcony with outdoor furniture. It has a seating area, a flat-screen cable TV and a fridge. Free handmade toiletries are provided in an en suite bathroom. An electric kettle, a minibar and tea/coffee making facilities are provided. For convenience, the property offers a 24-hour front desk and luggage storage facility. A laundry service can be arranged upon request and a free airport transfer and shuttle service to Pai walking street can also be organised. Guests can enjoy European dishes for breakfast and dinner at Silhouette Bar.​

        Pai Village Boutique Resort
        Situated along the banks of Pai River, within tropical gardens, Pai Village Boutique Resort provides rustic wooden cottages. It provides massage services and is only a 5-minute walk from Wat Pa Kham Temple. Guests have free access to the resort's private farm, which is located less than a 5-minute drive away. Traditional Thai massages await guests at The Mamalon Massage. To complement the experience, relax at The Baan Pai’s landscaped Koi pond garden. Free WiFi is also available in the public areas. Featuring private balconies, the Thai-style cottages present beautiful views of the mountain or garden. They have an electric kettle, a seating area and a private bathroom equipped with a hot shower and free toiletries. A surcharged shuttle service to or from Chiang Mai can be arranged upon request. The Blue Ox provides a relaxing setting to enjoy local specialties with a wide selection of wines. Room service is available. Pai Village Boutique Resort is a 10-minute walk from the bus station, while Pai Airport is a 15-minute drive away. Pai Market and Wat Luang Temple are a 5-minute drive from the hotel.​

        Family House Zen Boutique Resort
        Situated in Pai, 200 metres from Pai Bus station, Family House Zen Boutique Resort features accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a bar and a garden. The property is around 300 metres from Pai Night Market, 2.2 km from Wat Phra That Mae Yen and 8 km from Pai Canyon. Rooms come with a balcony. All rooms at the resort are fitted with a seating area. With a private bathroom fitted with a shower and slippers, rooms at Family House Zen Boutique Resort also boast free WiFi, while some rooms have pool view. At the accommodation rooms are equipped with air conditioning and a flat-screen TV. Family House Zen Boutique Resort offers a continental or American breakfast. The resort offers a terrace. The World War 2 bridge is 10 km from Family House Zen Boutique Resort, while Pai Walking Street is 300 metres from the property.​

        The Pai Quartier
        The Quarter Pai offers spacious rooms with a balcony and scenic mountain views. The hotel features an outdoor pool and free Wi-Fi. The air-conditioned rooms have a seating area, satellite TV and a DVD player. A minibar, tea/coffee maker and a safe are provided. Bathrooms feature a rainshower. Hotel The Pai Quarter offers free use of bicycles, and it has a library with international magazines and free computer use. Free shuttles are available to Pai Airport, Pai Bus Station and the Pai Walking Street. Restaurant The Column serves international cuisine and Thai-European fusion dishes. It offers outdoor dining with garden and pool views. The Quarter Pai is a 5-minute walk from the centre of Pai Town.It is a 15-minute drive away from Nam Hu Temple and Pai Hot Spring.​

        Yoma Hotel
        Features views of Mount Mae Yen and Pai’s natural landscape, as well as free shuttle services to the town and airport. A 5-minute drive from Pai Airport and the Walking Street Market, it features an outdoor pool with jet stream. Guests can explore Pai on bicycles provided free of charge, or enjoy quiet reading at the library. Hotel Yoma also offers a gift shop and car rental services. Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel. Each air-conditioned room at Yoma Hotel Pai has a private balcony with a sitting or lounging area. Rooms come with satellite TV and free tea and coffee. Private bathrooms feature a rain shower and hairdryer. Mountain views accompany meals at Dum Ya Restaurant, which serves Asian dishes with international influences. Diners can have their meals outdoors in a garden setting. Yoma Hotel, Pai is a 15-minute drive from Pai Hot Spring. The town of Pai is 135 km away from Chiang Mai.​

        Pai Vimaan Resort
        Located in Pai Town, Paivimaan Resort is a 10-minute drive from Pai Airport. Set amidst a tropical greenery, it features free Wi-Fi, a restaurant and air-conditioned rooms with a private balcony. Overlooking the gardens or river, rooms at Paivimaan come with modern Lanna Thai décor. All are equipped with hardwood furnishings, a minibar and cable TV. Shower facilities and toiletries are included. Guests can enjoy a relaxing body massage. With a 24-hour front desk, the resort provides a free shuttle service to the bus station and Coffee in Love View Point. For exploring the natural scenery or local area, the resort offers a free bicycle rental service. Travel arrangements can be made at the tour desk. Paivimaan Restaurant serves a fine selection of Northern Thai dishes. Room service is also available upon request. Resort Paivimaan is a 2-minute walk from the lively Walking Street. The resort offers free public parking, and is a 20-minute drive from Mea Yen Waterfall.​

        For more informationen please refer to Website
        Last edited by Tripadvisor; 10-23-2022, 05:29 PM.


        • #5
          Thai Province to welcome scenic golden flowers
          Sunflowers Mae Hong Son

          Thailand officially entered its winter season on Saturday October 29.2022, and one northern province expects to be covered in scenic golden flowerssoon. The “Mexican sunflowers” in Mae Hong Son province’s Khun Yuam district have been known to create stunning scenic views. The golden flowers, known in Thai as Dok Bua Tong, are believed to have been brought to Thailand by Christian missionaries. They are originally from Central America and the Caribbean and are smaller than typical sunflowers.

          The Bua Tong flower mostly blooms from November to December. During this period, the hills and valleys of Mae Hong Son turn bright gold when these wild sunflowers come into full bloom. The Doi Mae U-Kor mountain peak in Khun Yuam district is considered the largest and the most beautiful location to enjoy the spectacular bright yellow Bua Tong hills and valleys.
          • On Facebook, a page named Maehongson Creative indicates the percentage of the flowers which have bloomed so far.
          The post went on to say that this flower season, more tourists are expected to make their way to the province than in previous years. Lastly, the post said that the opening of the province’s flower festival is scheduled for November 9 at the Octagon Pavillion in Khun Yuam district. For more information, contact the TAT Mae Hong Son office on Tel 05361 2982-3 or the TAT Contact Centre on 1672.


          • #6
            Rare trees bloom with beautiful flowers on Thai-Laos border
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            Rare trees are blooming with beautiful flowers at a national park on northern Thailand’s border with Laos. The Doi Phukha National Park in Nan province is currently a sight to behold as the rare Chompoo Phu Kha trees have burst into bloom. The trees display white-pink flowers that grow in long bunches once a year from the end of February to March. The phenomenon can be seen by visitors along Highway 1256 from Pua to Bo Kluea district, about four kilometers from the national park.

            The Chompoo Phu Kha tree, or Bretschneidera Sinensis, is threatened by habitat loss. The Chompoo Phu Kha tree population in Doi Phukha park is Thailand’s only known population of the species. The species is also found in Taiwan, eastern China, and northern Vietnam. The trees can grow up to 20 metres tall. Bretschneidera Sinensis is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat various conditions. Cold weather this year is expected to bring out a larger-than-usual display of these flowers until the end of March, Nation Thailand reported. The park is providing binoculars so that tourists can gaze upon the unique, scenic flowers.

            Aside from the Chompoo Phu Kha blooms, visitors can take advantage of the park’s trails to view other rare plants and animals. The park’s chief, Chatchai Yothawut, advises visitors to bring warm clothing as the temperature drops to 11-13C. For those who want to stay and appreciate the park’s natural beauty longer, resorts and campsites are available for overnight stays. The display of the Chompoo Phu Kha tree’s flowers is a wonderful reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting Thailand’s natural resources. Several areas of north and northeast Thailand have had gorgeous flowers sprout up in recent months. Last month, Himalayan cherry trees brought a splash of colour to Thailand’s northeast province of Loei. The trees are spread across the park’s Phu Lom Lo mountains.

            Last edited by Tripadvisor; 02-22-2023, 04:59 PM.