Below is our story on riding the Mae Hong Son Loop. It will give you a good idea on how we tackled the “curves” of the Mae Hong Son Loop and help you plan your route and guide to motorbiking the Mae Hong Son Loop in Thailand.
To learn the basics of the Mae Hong Son Loop, check out our post on “Beginners Guide To Motorbiking The Mae Hong Son Loop.”
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Mae Hong Son Loop – Day 1
We packed our day bags with 3 days worth of clothing, dropped our big backpacks off at Aya Services (backpack transport service from Chiang Mai to Pai) and headed clockwise on the loop from Chiang Mai to Doi Inthanon National Park.
We drove a total of 67 km (41 mi) this day before arriving at Bansuan Inthanon Resort. Getting settled, we dropped our things off and headed into the National Park.
Doi Inthanon National Park is home to the highest pagoda and highest point in Thailand. We drove into the park making our first pit stop at the biggest waterfall in the park, Wachirathan Waterfall.
We spent a few hours climbing to the top of the fall and around the pools at the bottom.
Once we had our share of waterfalls, we jumped back on the bike and continued up to the top. (TIP: bring a jacket & don’t be an idiot like us).
As the sun was setting we were racing to reach the top of the mountain and get that picturesque shot of the pagodas.
Well, mountain as sun is setting = cold and even colder when you’re in a tank top. We finally reach the top but to our confusion don’t see the pagodas we so badly want to see.
However, we see a sign that says tallest point this way. We jump off the bike and head up the trail where we find a sign surrounded by trees.
The sign reads “highest spot in Thailand”, with no view! What? Where are the pagodas?
Cold, confused but with a little help from a park ranger, we realized that the highest point and pagodas are not one in the same.
We actually passed the pagodas on the way up (palm to face). So, we jumped on ol” girl red (our motorbike’s name) and hustled back down the mountain.
About 5 km later, we arrived at the pagodas, all sorts of numb from the cold, but managed to get the sunset shot.
After the sunset, ehhh who are we kidding, it was getting cold before sunset so we headed back down the mountain, grabbed a bite to eat and called it an early night.
Mae Hong Son Loop – Day 2
Sleepy and annoyed, we woke up at dawn to a gang of roosters in a crowing battle.
We decided to hit the open road since sleep was no longer an option. We checked out, grabbed some hot ham & cheese toasties from 7/11 and headed to Khum Yuam.
Today was our long drive or as I like to call “my cranky butt” day. Sitting on the back of a once cushioned, but no longer motorbike seat for 6 hours will make anyones backside angry.
We drove a total of 220 km (137 mi). Believe me, we made plenty of stops to stretch our legs, take pics and eat some lunch.
We stopped and ate lunch in Mae Sariang (the second to largest town we passed through) where we had some noodle soup and iced coffees.
After lunch we continued onto Khun Yuam where we enjoyed views like these…
We arrived in Khun Yuam by late afternoon and began looking for our place for the night.
We had a recommendation from an expat in Chiang Mai to stay at the Khun Yuam Resort.
Lucky for us, as we rolled into town there were signs directing us to the resort. A few minutes drive down some questionable dirt roads, we stumbled upon the Khun Yuam Resort and man oh man, was it just the best!
We opted to get their luxury sweet for the night. I mean how could we say no when we were shown this…
Yes, we paid more than we normally do for a room ($20 a night) but it was just too good to pass up!
We made friends with the owner, Jep and hung out at the resort where he cooked us dinner and gave us delightful conversation. We highly recommend staying here!
Jep and his family have been building this resort “as money provides” one section at a time. Hopefully when we visit again, he will have finished the breakfast/cocktail bar that will boast an amazing view along with other projects he had in the works.
Mae Hong Son Loop – Day 3
Getting into the rhythm, once again we woke up and hit the road for our 3rd day. Today was also a decent drive, about 160 km (100 miles).
Not as long as yesterday’s, but still a good ride.
We drove in and out of the hills and mountains passing through villages and stopping at viewpoints.
We ate lunch in the largest city on the loop, Mae Hong Son, before continuing to Sop Pong.
One of the stops we made on the way to Sop Pong was to Su Tong Pae Bridge, a bamboo bridge that stretches over 500 meters across rice fields. It was a quick stop but a rather impressive site to see.
We arrived in Sop Pong in the late afternoon and began looking for Little Eden, a recommendation we got from a guest staying at the Khun Yuam Resort.
Lucky us, we got the last room. A cute little bungalow flat that sat in a quaint and quiet spread.
It really was a little paradise with a bamboo bridge and hut that sat next to river where guests could lay in hammocks and on bamboo mats.
Or, if you so desired to take a swim in their pool! It really was a lovely little place to spend time at.
We could have easily spent another day here just taking in the peacefulness of Little Eden and the small town of Sop Pong.
Mae Hong Son Loop – Day 4
Closing in to the end of the loop, we’re off to our last stop – Pai!
Before officially leaving Sop Pong, we headed to Lod Cave which was a few kilometers away from Little Eden. We arrived at Lod Cave, hired a guide (which is mandatory to enter the cave) and off we went – the spelunking Stus!
The cave was absolutely massive! It took us the better part of an hour to get through the whole thing.
Plus, you get a bamboo raft ride through the shallow waters where you can hear bats flapping and squeaking above you. Great pit stop and a must in our opinion if you have the time.
Leaving Lod Cave, we were Pai bound (officially)!
Today was the shortest driving distance (41 km / 25 mi) but since there are so many mountainous twist and turn it took us the better part of 2.5 hours to get to Pai.
But finally, we rolled into town where we will be spending 3 nights.
Mae Hong Son Loop – Day 4 to 6
For the next several days, we drank, ate and explored our way through the beautiful town of Pai, Thailand.
First things first, when we got to Pai, we picked up our bags from Aya (the service we rented our bikes from and took our big backpacks up to Pai for free).
Taking a several day break in Pai was a perfect break for out bottoms. Ha, riding long hours every day was starting to make us sore in some areas 🙂
Pai is chill, hippie and backpackers paradise. If you want to know what to see, what to do, where to stay, where to eat and where to party in Pai, give our “Complete Guide To Pai, Thailand” a read.
Mae Hong Son Loop – Day 7
Our official last day on the loop. We packed up, dropped our big packs back off at Aya and headed out to drive the 149 km (93 mi) and brave the 700 turns back to Chiang Mai.
The ride took us about 3 – 3.5 hours but a really great trip!
Well, that’s it. That’s our story on how we conquered the Mae Hong Son Loop!
Day 1 (Chom Thong): Bansuan Inthanon is a quaint and quiet little road side accommodation that is perfect for a one night stay. It’s located very close to Thailand’s Doi Inthanon National Park which is an amazing must see in the area.
Day 2 (Ban Khun Yuam): Khunyuam Resort is an amazing little gem located away from the craziness of the road. It’s run by a sweet family and has unbelievable views of the area. It’s quite, clean and perfect.
Day 3 (Pang Mapha): Little Eden is nestled on the banks of a river. With cute little bungalows surrounding a pool and a on-site restaurant, this place is a gem after a long days ride.
Day 4 to 6 (Pai): Happy House Backpackers is your quintessential backpackers hostel in Southeast Asia. A fun atmosphere and centrally located, this is one fun place to stay at in Pai.
Day 7 (Chiang Mai): One of our favorite accommodations in Thailand is Stamps Backpackers. A social hostel that is clean, ultra friendly and close to hundreds of cafes and shops. This is a great pick for Chiang Mai.
For more places to stay in on the Mae Hong Son Loop, you can check out the latest places and prices here.
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)