Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son Posted by sasha on Dec 26, 2014 in Uncategorized
Embarking on an epic motorbike adventure across the famed Mae Hong Son loop of Thailand, we headed south from the northern capital of Chiang Mai. Based on other travelers’ accounts, it seemed as if we had two options for the first day – stop at Doi Inthanon National Park or head straight to Mae Sariang. As we got a bit of a late start, we opted for the former, which is a much shorter ride. After a few hours on the bike, we headed uphill into the park. You need to buy entrance tickets for yourself and your bike, so keep this in mind when planning your route.
Some may feel it’s not worth the extra cost to see the park, but we enjoyed our short visit there. First up, we stopped by a large waterfall. Despite it being the dry season, the water was quite strong. From there, we cruised to the middle of the park and made a pit stop for lunch. Although there are a few hiking trails in the park, we decided we didn’t have time for one.
After lunch, we headed to a couple of pagodas surrounded by a beautiful garden. One of the pagodas was covered up for construction, but both were open and featured stunning Buddha images and carvings on the wall. Strolling through the gardens and taking in the panoramic views off to the side made for a great break from sitting on the bike.
Inside Doi Inthanon, you can visit the highest point in Thailand. Despite the lack of a clear view from the top, it was still fun to be on top of the Kingdom of Smiles. After taking a brief nature walk, it was time to get back on the bikes and begin our descent.
It was a long and windy road down from the top. Eventually we ended up in the small town of Mae Chaem where we decided to overnight. There are a few hotels here set up along a river, and a handful of restaurants as well. Other than a couple of fellow motorbike enthusiasts, the place was devoid of tourists and very authentically Thai. With another long day on the bike ahead of us, we called it an early night and got some much needed rest.
On the second day, we had to decide whether or not to continue south to Mae Sariang or just head straight to Mae Hong Son. Although Mae Sariang looks quite beautiful, we opted to skip it in favor of spending more time in places like Soppong and Pai. As a result, we probably didn’t actually do all 1,864 curves of the MHS loop. Oh well, I think the 1,500 or so that we did were enough.
With 145 km until our destination, most of the day was spent on the bike. Thankfully much of the road from Mae Chaem to Mae Hong Son is straight and relatively traffic-free, so we were able to cruise at a good speed. There are quite a few spots along the loop where you can pull over to rest, and there are also tons of scenic overlooks, waterfalls, and more that you can easily detour to.
Arriving in MHS in the evening, our first order of business was finding a room for the night. Then we took a stroll around the small lake in the town and investigated our options for the next day. It seemed as if there isn’t a whole lot to do in the town, but that there are plenty of opportunities for adventures in the surrounding areas. As we planned to go trekking and visit caves in Soppong, we opted to just spend a night in MHS and continue on our way the next day. We did manage to see a bit of Mae Hong Son, though, and the ride to Soppong ended up being quite eventful.
Check back to the blog in a few weeks for more tales, photos, and videos from the Mae Hong Son loop motorbike adventure.
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