The Mae Hong Song Loop is a fun yet beautiful road trip located in Northern Thailand. We’re here to give you the beginners guide to morotbiking the Mae Hong Son Loop in Thailand.
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What is the Mae Hong Son Loop
The Mae Hong Son Loop is multi-day loop approximately a 600 km (372 mi) long that takes you through the Mae Hong Son region in northern Thailand.
The loop consists of two main roads, 108 and 1095.
Where Does The Mae Hong Son Loop Start
Most Mae Hong Son Looper’s typically start in Chiang Mai and head out from there.
You can blaze the loop clockwise or counterclockwise, preference is up to you.
Clockwise tends to be the best way for folks that are getting used to a motorbike as counterclockwise sends you in the direction of Pai.
If you’re not familiar with the counterclockwise direction (the Pai direction), let us break it down for you.
This direction has more than 700 hair pin mountainous turns that make you say “shiiiiiit” as your heading up or down each.
Counterclockwise is not for a motorbike newbie unless you are yearning to know what road rash feels like 🙂
So, like we said above, most looper’s tend to do clockwise for two reasons:
Reason #1: They want to get used to riding a motorbike.
Reason #2: They want to make their last stop and spend the most time in Pai.
Our recommend? Save Pai for last and head clockwise towards Doi Inthanon National Park.
What Kind of Motorbike Do I need For The Mae Hong Son Loop
If you are in Asia, you know there are variations of motorbikes. For the Mae Hong Son Loop, we recommend a 125cc Motorbike and no less.
Anything less will NOT have enough power to get you through the up the hills of the loop.
You can find plenty of 125cc bikes from the handful of rental companies in Chiang Mai.
Head over to a rental company a day or two ahead of time to reserve the bike for the morning you want to leave. Negotiate the per day rate.
How Many Days Is The Mae Hong Son Loop
Depends on what you want to see and the time you want to allocate to the open road of northern Thailand.
Some folks have done it as quick as 3 days while others have taken 2 weeks.
From our experience, 5-7 days is a good range of time to cover the basics.
In all honesty, rushing it in 3 days is not worth it. Take your time and enjoy the ride and take in beauty like this!
International Drivers License for Motorbiking The Mae Hong Son Loop
Short answer, no. You’re in Thailand. A valid passport is just fine.
Howeevvveerrr, the Thai police target westerner’s in Chiang Mai and setup traffic stops around the square.
If you don’t have a international drivers license, that applies specifically to motorcycles, expect a ticket.
What To Do With Luggage When Motorbiking The Mae Hong Son Loop
In Chiang Mai, Thialand, we decided to rent our motorbikes for the Mae Hong Son Loop through Aya Services. Aya Services offered a luggage service.
They would take any luggage that did not fit on your motorbike to their offices in Pai, Thailand for free.
This is a huge plus for couples (like us). Why? You can save money and only rent one motorbike instead of two and not have to worry about how in the F you are going to fit your luggage on the motorbike too.
The rental fee including luggage transfer was 180 baht / day and that 180 baht included insurance.
If you want to risk it without insurance, you could do it for 140 baht / day, but saving appx. $7 USD vs. buying a crashed moped was a no brainer for us.
7 Day Route For Motorbiking The Mae Hong Son Loop
We did a decent amount of research about the Mae Hong Son Loop and what there was to see and do. We originally went into Thailand thinking the below was going to be our game plan…
- Day 1: Chiang Mai to Mae Chaem
- Day 2: Mae Chaem to Mae Sariang
- Day 3: Mae Sariang to Soppong
- Day 4: Soppong to Pai
- Day 5: Pai
- Day 6: Pai to Chiang Mai
HOWEVER, after arriving into Chiang Mai we talked to a few ex-pats and rearranged our plans based on their suggestions. So below is our actual route we took and we LOVED it.
- Day 1: Chiang Mai to Doi Inthanon National Park
- Day 2: Doi Inthanon National Park to Khun Yuam
- Day 3: Khun Yuam to Soppong
- Day 4: Soppong to Pai
- Day 5: Pai
- Day 6: Pai
- Day 7: Pai to Chiang Mai
It’s personal preference on how long you want to spend on the Mae Hong Son Loop and what you want to see. The loop has a lot of smaller towns and villages along with a few larger “cities” you can stop in.
Do some research ahead of time to see what the towns along the loop have to offer. Also, there are hot springs, longneck tribes, caves and a bamboo bridge along the loop as well if you so choose to make any of those a pit stop.
FYI: Your Google Maps or Maps.Me will want to take you off 108 and 1095 at certain points to get you to your destination sooner. In our opinion, that is a mistake. Stick out the ride and enjoy the scenery.
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.
Motorbike Travel Insurance
You never know what the open road is going to throw at you. During our one-week road trip on the Mae Hong Son loop, we wanted to make sure we were covered if the unexpected happend.
Which is why we purchased travel insurance World Nomads. Our travel insurance covered us if any harm happened to us, the moped or our gear. It seriously gave us the peace-of-mind knowing that whatever happens, we are taken care of.
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)