Mae Hong Son Loop Preparations

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.


10 thoughts on “Mae Hong Son Loop Preparations

  1. Hi, we are two Italian girls we want to do a mae hong son loop with yamaha mio 125cc automatic( 2 person in one bike)….what do you think about? thank you

    1. 2 people on a mio is possible provided you can figure out how to carry your stuff. It probably wont be particularly fast or particularly comfortable but it is possible. You’ll need plenty of time in your schedule as I doubt you’d want to be on the bike for hours and hours. Note that thats really a bad thing as there is a lot to see.

      I would however recommend that you get 2 bikes if at all possible. That would make for a far more comfortable time.

  2. hey roberta,

    we´re two german girls and we just did the loop (sort of, we took an adventurous short cut through the nationalpark). we had our backpacks with us, so we took a motorbike each (125cc automatic). even without backpacks i would recommend two bikes!

    we didnt really prepare for anything – we should have taken warmer clothes as it gets quiet chilly in the mountains.

    for the motorbikes you could go to chatcarrent, we got two bikes that had only run 2000km and they were a pleasure to ride!

    enjoy!!! birdy

  3. Any suggestions as to where to store your luggage. My boyfriend and I want to do the loop but we want to store our large bags somewhere in Chiang Mai for the days we are gone and just bring the bare minimum with us.

    1. Generally you can ask the guest house that you are staying at in Chiang Mai to hold your bogs for you. They may charge you for storing, in reality it is only a few dollars a day if that.

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