Road Trip Thailand: Mae Hong Son Loop
You have not experienced Thailand until you have rented a motorbike and hit the roads. I am not talking about cruising Bangkok but the more rural stretches of pavement. One such trip rests in Northern Thailand and is called the Mae Hong Son Loop for the province it encompasses. This loop would have every American man, woman and child with a motorbike salivating. It is full of hairpin turns, rolling pin hills, monster climbs and steep descents.
The loop is a 600 km mountain adventure starting and ending in Chiang Mai. The trip can take as little as 4 days or over a week if you decide to stay longer in some of the cities. Most Chiang Mai guest houses have motorbike rentals and they are dirt cheap. I think I saw one Harley Davidson on the loop the entire 4 days I did it but the loop was almost empty with the occasional delivery trip passing me.
Day 1 – Leave Chiang Mai headed in the direction of Pai. Pai is a hippy little town to the north and is famous in Thailand for a rom-com called Pai in Love. There are plenty of cool places to stay in Pai and lots of ex-pat restaurants to lose yourself for a day or 2. This was my favorite city along the route.
Day 2 – If you are leaving Pai, your next destination is Mae Hong Son. At 1st glance, this city resembles a provincial town lacking in character but there is a rather golden wat on a lake that is the main draw. Doubt you have reason to stay more than one night here and accommodation was rather pricey and sparse. I paid 400 Baht for a place, which at current rates was close to $20.
Day 3 – On your way our of Mae Hong Son, your next city is Mae Sariang 166 km south. Another country town that doesn’t warrant much of a mention, only a pass through. you can choose to stay here the night or press on towards Mae Chaem and stay at any of the roadside guest houses you encounter.
Day 4 – This is your last day of travel and by now you have earned your road badge, your Honda dream has stalled numerous times going up hills but you have survived. You have less than 200km to go to get back to Chiang Mai.
Motorbike rental will run you $8-12 per day and petrol is practically nothing.