Day 2, we woke up early. Our accommodation wasn't exactly luxurious so a relaxed sleep-in was never really on the cards. Our mission for the day was to depart Mae Chaem and make our way to Khun Yuam. There was no breakfast to be had apart from a cup of tea so we packed up and headed down the road to the 7-11. We scarfed down some surprisingly good toasted sandwiches while standing out the front of the 7-11 and we were off!
The road started out great but rapidly went downhill. It was more pothole than road at times. Fortunately it wasn't too long before we reached a place called Hot Coffee. It was so close to Mae Chaem that we weren't sure if we would stop there. As it turned out, after spending the early morning picking our way through the patchwork of holes and gravel, we were keen for a break.
Hot Coffee is a cafe/restaurant/orphanage that also has bungalows you can stay in. It looks out over a river and peaceful valley. We just stopped to have a bit of a look around, something to drink and something to eat. If we had left Chiang Mai earlier on day 1 it would have been great to have pushed on and spent the night here. Sadly you don't usually learn these things until you're there. If you're planning on doing the loop yourself, consider it. It has a nice feeling about it and your money is going to a good cause.
As we progressed the amount of fire damage became more and more apparent. The smoke had been thick all day and only seemed to get worse. While it stings your eyes and throat it does give the place a mysterious lonely feeling. We were off the main roads and there was little traffic to interrupt the atmosphere.
We stopped for lunch in a little town called Kia. If you do the loop yourself make the effort to stop in a few little towns. It helps to be able to speak a little Thai but smiling and pointing can get you through. If you can speak any Thai you'll generally get an extremely positive reaction. They may find your version of Thai hilarious but they will think well of you for trying.
Although it was never perfect, the road surface rapidly improved as we headed towards Khun Yuam. I don't know what the road is like between Mae Sariang and Khun Yuam, which was the alternative route we could have taken, but this road is hard to beat. Sections of it run along the spine of a mountain ridge. The views were largely hidden by the smoke but it was still a beautiful place and the riding was a lot of fun.
We encountered a few farmers moving their livestock plus some buffalo just out for a walk on their own. It pays not to get too carried away on the road. You never know what you'll find around the next corner.
There was the occasional checkpoint as we neared the border with Myanmar. These were mostly empty. Where there were soldiers or police officers we were waved through. From what we know they are primarily concerned with goods and people entering Thailand illegally via the lengthy border with Myanmar. A pair of farangs (white people) on a motorcycle were not of much interest. It's not much fun seeing the road ahead blocked by people with guns but we were always met with smiles and sent on our way.
Before we knew it we were in Khun Yuam. Again, we did a little tour around and checked out some accommodation options. In the end we opted for Ban Farang. Although the name was a little off putting the bungalows were nice, breakfast was included and it was in the centre of town. A hot shower was in order before we went out to explore the town.
Our first port of call was the world war 2 Japanese museum. Sadly, that was closed so we made do with a nearby icecream parlour.
After some icecream and a bit of a lie down we returned to the streets to get dinner at the town's night market. Food of all sorts was on offer. Healthy, unhealthy, ready to eat, still alive. We opted for a grilled fish, a salad, banana fritters and a donut each. Riding is hungry work.
Mae Hong Son Loop Day 2 Costs
At the time 30 Baht was approximately 1 Australian dollar.
2 x toasted sandwich + a milk drink from 7-11 = 56B
2 x coffee and toast from Hot Coffee = 120B
2 x noodle soup 2x drink in Kia = 70B
Dinner in Khun Yuam
Whole fish = 120B
Salad = 20B
Banana fritters = 10B
Donuts x 2 = 10B
A night at Ban Farang = 700B with breakfast
Bonus extra video
After the place we stayed in Mae Chaem, Ban Farang in Khun Yuam was so lovely we couldn't NOT review it.
- Mae Hong Son Loop Preparations
- Mae Hong Son Loop Day 1 – Chiang Mai To Mae Chaem
- Mae Hong Son Loop Day 2 – Mae Chaem To Khun Yuam
- Mae Hong Son Loop Day 3 – Khun Yuam To Mae Hong Son
- Mae Hong Son Loop Day 4 – Hanging Out In Mae Hong Son
- Mae Hong Son Loop Day 5 – Mae Hong Son To Pai
- Mae Hong Son Loop Day 6 – Exploring Pai
- Mae Hong Son Loop Day 7 – Pai To Chiang Mai
- Advice For Doing The Mae Hong Son Loop