The Mae Hong Son loop is a well known motorcycle tour of north west Thailand. It includes the towns Chiang Mai, Pai, Mae Hong Son, an assortment of smaller towns and villages and takes you through the gorgeous mountains and rice fields of northern Thailand.
I've always intended on doing it. Now that we were back in Chiang Mai I figured it was now or never. Tanya was keen to get out an explore and so it was decided. We were off to do the loop.
We visited a few new motorcycle rental places just to check our usual place was giving us a good deal. We've previously written a guide to Chiang Mai motorbike rental. In the end we rented a 200cc Honda Phantom and a pair of jackets from Mr Mechanic. The bike was fitted with 3 hard cases that meant we wouldn't need to carry any bags. We could just load our stuff into the lockable hard cases and head off.
We weren't happy with the helmets on offer so we splashed out on a pair of $5 helmets from a shop just outside the northern side of the moat. As we'd be wearing them a lot we wanted a good fit plus a decent visor to keep the wind, dust and bugs out of our eyes. It was $10 well spent.
There are a number of options with the Mae Hong Son loop.
First, clockwise or counter-clockwise? Makes no difference really. I read somewhere that going clockwise meant that the more easy and boring sections were right at the beginning. I hadn't ridden anything more than a 100cc Honda Dream for around 6 months so a few hours of dull roads to get back into the swing of things sounded like a good idea. Also, going clockwise meant that our last stop was Pai. Pai is a quirky little hippy town. We've both been to Pai before and quite like it. The option to tack on another day or two there depending on how the trip progressed sounded like a good deal.
Second, will you go Mae Chaem -> Mae Sariang -> Khun Yuam or will you skip Mae Sariang and go straight from Mae Chaem to Khun Yuam? Going to Mae Sariang adds a fair bit to the total distance plus it means you'll spend more time on major roads. I read some other people's stories and found a few people saying that the shorter route from Mae Chaem to Khum Yuam was some of the best riding they had ever done anywhere. Twisty mountain roads through amazing scenery with very little traffic Vs travelling further on straighter busier roads. Decisions decisions. After some further research to check that we weren't going to miss anything super awesome in Mae Sariang we decided to head directly from Mae Chaem to Khun Yuam.
Now we had a motorcycle and a route. All we needed now was to fire up the Phantom and hit the road.
- 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