The famous north of Thailand Mae Hon Song loop which has a total of 1864 corners of varying degree, climbing up to the highest mountain in Thailand also known as the Rooftop of Thailand - Doi Inthanon and then curving in unbelievable terrain from lush rain-forest to steep nerve wrecking continuous U-bends downhill passing by many nature reserves, small towns and colorful minority tribes only found in these secluded northern parts of Thailand sounded like a fairy tale ride that I could not ignore and had to experience it myself despite how popular it was as a tourist loop.
The usual recommended route would be to start from Chaing Mai city, which is understandable since most travelers would need a starting point to rent a bike. Bluey’s modified loop was just slightly over 600km. (Usual Recommended Route – Can be done either direction) Chiang Mai - > Doi Inthanon -> Mae Sariang -> Mae Hong Song -> Pai -> Chiang Mai (Blueys actual route skipping Chiang Mai alltogether) Chom Thong -> Doi Inthanon -> Mae Sariang -> Mae Hong Son -> Pai -> Chiang Dao Doi Inthanon as per the previous two post (Riding & Camping at Doi Inthanon) and (Riding Log – Route 1192 Mae Hong Song Loop – Thailand) was one hell of a journey itself and I thought that the rest of the loop would be more relax, more straightforward countryside sightseeing where I could slow down and enjoy the more secluded part of Thailand. I was definitely wrong. Mae Sariang By chance, I would arrive Mae Sariang on Christmas eve checking into the cheapest hostel 200 bath a night with good comfy beds. The idea was to escape Christmas to a small town where it was cheaper and one has lesser probability being dragged out by dorm-mates to go out drinking. All the other like minded travelers decided to stop at the hostel too.
Christmas Eve and there was only me and Simon which was from England doing a bicycle tour of Thailand and eventually will explore Malaysia too. Towards the evening Jeremy from France joined in and he was on a motorbike rented in Chaing Mai and doing a motor trip going south headed to Mae Sot after Mae Sariang.
Still end up drinking on Christmas Eve .... Notice Bluey at the background ?
The second night, the hostel helped us organized a steamboat feast to celebrate Christmas and two more bikers rocked up in the evening (Wada from Japan and Stephen from Finland) joining us straight for the Christmas party. Good company with lots of discussion from politics to religion, culture view points and anything under the sun and the gibberish went on all the way late into the night.
Christmas Dinner at Mae Sariang
It was one of those moments, that somehow fitted perfectly. In between those two nights, we explored little town Mae Sariang, with bikes it was really quick to spin around town and also the outskirt countryside surrounding it. Like I imagine it to be, this little town was a gem lost in time. We did got a little tip from the hostel staff and explored one Buddhist temple / cave / unfinished temple that was so intricate it was like no other temple I had ever seen in Thailand.
A Cave Temple at Mae Sariang
A very Intricate Traditional Thai Temple but still in Construction - Mae Sariang
Riding Around Mae Sariang Town
Mae Sariang outskirts
Towards Mae Hong Son It was time to parts ways in Mae Sariang but me Wada & Stephan was headed for the same direction towards Mae Hong Son. The ride was an easy 165 km but very winding and slightly hilly up and down going around mountains after mountains. It was a good ride and we stop at Kaeo Komon Cave Forest Park. Wada was in rush of time to get to Pai and decided to split at the cave continuing on without us while me and Stephen visited the cave. Nothing spectacular but it was worth a visit.
Stephen, Me & Wada at Mae Hong Son
Kaeo Komon Cave Forest Park
Countryside from Mae Sariang to Mae Hong Son
Hot Sping Pit Stop
Hot Sping Pit Stop
The highlight of the day was visiting the long neck village near to Mae Hong Son. The Long Neck Village where the women wear brass rings around their necks since young and gradually add rings over the years to allow their neck to be long was interesting to see. Most of the girls are actually normal but wear the ornament for the tourist to see and only maybe 2 or 3 elderly lady really had long necks which was beautiful to see.
Visiting Long Neck Village Karen - Mae Hong Son
The whole area seam to be focus on tourism, it was not like a zoo display but instead more of shops selling scarfs, clothes, trinkets, oilmen and anything they think the tourist would but at their village. The shopkeepers were all long neck tribe women and the curious tourist would walk around shopping while sneaking glance at these girls and their long necks covered with brass ornaments. Entrance to the long neck village was 250 baht to support the community
Long Neck Village - Mae Hong Son
Long Neck Village - Mae Hong Son
Exiting the village I notice two motorbikes parked next to Bluey. Malaysian plate. It was two crazy riders from KL that was doing a two week stunt riding 1 week up all the way to the Golden Triangle and 1 week back home. An average of 400km a day. Don't think they will see much and I guess they are just in it for the ride. Toward Pai The ride from Mae Hong Son to Pai started late in the morning after first visiting hilltop temple viewpoint getting a bird eye view of Mae Hong Son city including the airport. I decided I wanted to ride the small town going round and round then finally hitting the main road onward to Pai.
Mae Hong Son City
The northern route or the Mae Hong Son Loop is a truly bikers heaven or road trip heaven where one gets to experience hairpin curve after curve and with beautiful scenery and lots of stops along the way. It was never a dull moment riding this route Stephen became my travel partner, the last sole surviving one after the gang gathered for Christmas at Mae Saraing. He would continue with me all the way to Chaing Dao 5 days together travelling and riding together. He had a 300 cc Honda bike which always left me in the dust going up hill. Downhill however I was the crazy one catching up to him and overtaking and leaving him some smoke but once even a tiniest hill climb begins, Bluey begins his lazy climb.
Just To Bikers Tacking the Mae Hong Son Loop
First stop was the bamboo bridge in a small village en-route towards Myanmar. Su Tong Pae bridge which has a beautiful Buddhist temple at the end. Riding on we ended up at the National Park Thampla Fish Cave. Interesting thing to see for the large fishes were all trying to squeeze into the small little cave enclosure.
Su Tong Pae Bridge
Su Tong Pae Temple
Su Tong Pae Bridge
Thampla Fish Cave
A Cave Pack full of Fish - Thampla Fish Cave
The loop was more about the ride and not so much about sightseeing things along the way yet I cant help feel a little regret on not being able to see every little things along the rural northern Thailand. That said, I also know that if I were to try and see every little attraction, i would be broke as well since Thailand has double pricing for locals and foreigners and with each waterfall or each cave or hot springs along the way entrance fee would chalk up 300 baht for each attraction.
Pang Ma Pha Viewpoint
Pang Ma Pha Viewpoint
Regret of not being able to do everything properly, but at the same time I know it was the right choice to skip all the waterfall and hot springs if the only idea was to see and not to swim in it. Towards Chiang Dao I was dead set on staying in Pai for two nights. As much as I wanted to keep moving, riding every day and not seeing things eats my soul inside and Pai was one of the places where there was so much to do. I’ll have to write a separate post for Pai itself I guess. The ride downhill from Pai to Chaing Dao was very mundane other than the ride itself which was beautiful and challenging. Slopes were ok but the curves were quite sharp and up and down the mountain hill when the clouds today seams like it could rain at any moment just makes the whole riding journey cold even at 2pm. I somehow missed the first pre-determined scenic pit stop with Stephen and also missed the second one and had to wait for him at the Witch Cafe. The Witch Cafe was interesting and as a marketing strategy. I would say they had done a very good job by the number of people stopping for coffee. The house of the witch was a picture stop moment for all travelers to Pai or from Pai
Bluey At the Witchhouse - Pai
Coffee We / Witch's House
Coffee We / Witch House
We took a detour on the way to Chaing Dao seeing all the elephant camps which was in the valley surrounded by mountains. Eco tourism for all the elephant camps but we just ride this small road seeing the countryside and occasionally elephant roaming beside.
Detour - Follow the Signboards that has pictures of Elephants
Free Roaming Elephant Sanctuary
By nightfall we had reached Chiang Dao and marked the end for Mae Hong Son loop on my part. Steven would continue on to Chaing Mai the next day while I headed further north of Thailand. The loop took a total of 9 days for me and even so I felt it was too rushed. It was slow enough to appreciate the still moments in time but so fast it felt like a riding adventure where everyday is a new challenge.
Traveled on : Dec 2018 #maehongsonloop #maehongson1864 #blurtravels