North Thailand is amazingly beautiful full of natural grace and offering a glimpse of authentic Thai Culture and Cuisines and a motorbike trip across Mae Hong Son Loop is the best way to explore the North.
Best way to explore North Thailand is to take a train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and then hire a bike/scooter to go on famous Mae Hong Son Loop. We did the same and it turned out to be an amazing experience as we set off on a Yamaha PCX 150 for a week long trip across Mae Hong Son Loop exploring the heart and soul of North. Based on our experience, here are 10 offbeat things that you can explore across Mae Hong Son Loop in North Thailand –
- Drive across Mae Hong Son Loop
- Go Hiking to Explore Mountain Trails
- Walk up the Waterfall: A Unique Experience
- Steer Bamboo rafts through Caves
- Hippie life style: Music and Party at Pai
- Camp in Mountains/Forests
- A Cultural Mix: Thailand, Burma and China
- A Vegetation Mix: Tea Plantations to Flower Fields
- Thai Villages and Smiling People
- Savor the Best and Authentic Thai Cuisines
(Go to the Top) Mae Hong Son Loop is famous multi-days bike route across the mountains of North Thailand. You start from Chiang Mai and drive through the beautiful cities of Chiang Dao, Pai, Sop Pong, Mae Aw, Mae Hong Son, Khun Yuam, Mae Sariang and reach back to Chiang Mai via Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain peak of Thailand.
It’s an amazing drive as you pass through mountains, forests exploring the waterfalls, caves and villages of North Thailand. Air is fresh, hearts are pure and you will enjoy the authentic culture and cuisines of Thailand. People in the North are rally nice always smiling and ready to help you.
You may read more about our Mae Hong Son Drive here.
(Go to the Top) Cities of the North offer wonderful natural trails that you can go for day hiking. Just ask for directions from your hotel or locals and go out for a walk or hike.
At Doi Inthanon National Park, we went hiking on 2 trails – Kew Mae Pan Natural Trail is a 3.2 km. long trail taking around 2-4 hours to complete the circular path. An amazingly beautiful trail, it offers unique forest phenomenon, panoramic views, waterfalls and serene surroundings. Ang Ka Luang Natural Trail is another scenic 340 meters looped broad-walk trail, where you can take a stroll through beautiful cloud forests and some patches of rare swamp forest.
(Go to the Top) National Parks of the North Thailand have some of the most beautiful waterfalls that you will ever experience. Bua Tong Waterfalls ( น้ำตกบัวทอง ) in Chiang Mai is a super unique natural phenomenon. Also known as ‘Sticky Waterfalls’, you can literally walk up and down the waterfall slope with full grip and water gushing through your feet. Mork Fa Waterfall is another amazingly waterfall in Chiang Mai amid the jungles of Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. You will find more of beautiful and serene waterfalls as you will drive across Mae Hong Son Loop.
(Go to the Top) North is also home to the most amazing caves and caverns. These caves are huge spread across many kilometers. Sop Pong and Chiang Rai regions house some of the best caves of Thailand. Some of them are easily accessible and you can explore their vast chambers along with a guide. For others in the interiors, you may hike to them and explore with guidance from experts.
With Huge dark chambers, colourful stalactites and stalagmites, pre-historic teak-wood coffins and experience of bamboo rafting – Tham Lod Caves in Sop Pong is one of the most impressive and easily accessible caves.
(Go to the Top) In case, you are thinking that you are going to miss the music and party of south far up in north, you are mistaken. Yes!! North is more about serenity and natural beauty, but this small city Pai, tucked up in the mountains, is considered as back-packers’s paradise. A hippie-style town, Pai has amazing live music and night-life. There are lots of pubs and bars that remain open late in night giving you the thrill of sound and fun.
(Go to the Top) Yes!! This is another amazing part of heading to north. You can stay in camps next to a beautiful lake, inside forest or on top of a mountain and wake up to beautiful sun-rise or mist wrapping you up. Camping at Panu Ung Lake (near Mae Hong Son) turned out to be an amazing experience. When we reached there, we were so mesmerized by the landscape that we impromptu decided to hire a tent for night and drop our bags then and there for an overnight camping. Fuang Fah Camping (Book on booking.com) in Mae Chaem (just next to Doi Inthanon) turned out to be another amazing experience for us.
(Go to the Top) Another unique experience that North Thailand offers is a mix of Thai, Burmese and Chinese (Yunnanese) culture. With proximity to Burma and China, you will find a mix of culture. Ban Santichon Chinese Village in Pai, you can enjoy the Yunnanese culture along with popular Chinese tea and buns. And as you head to Mae Hong Son, you will find a unique mix of Thai, Burmese and Chinese in Ban Rak Thai (Mae Aw) village. At Mae Aw, you can even go up to Burma Border.
(Go to the Top) It’s not only the culture mix but only the vegetation mix that gives you the variety. You won’t be bored of only seeing forests and mountains as you will find meadows, lakes, tea plantations and flower fields as you will drive from one place to another. Thung Bua Tong Wild Sunflower fields at Doi Mae U Kho are treat to eyes in season (Nov and early Dec) while Pang Ung Lake will mesmerize you with its meadows and pine trees.
(Go to the Top) People up in the North are really warm and helping. Even though most of the people did not know English, still we managed very well. As you drive around, people pass on smiles making you feel welcome in their land. Even we found that prices in local markets (except night markets) were quite reasonable and we did not to haggle around for bargaining. Less tourists heading to north also make it more enjoyable and budget friendly.
(Go to the Top) So, we preserved the best part for the last. Damn too yummy cuisines and desserts !! Up in the north, you will find the best Thai food and it will taste better and better as you will move to interiors. At night markets, you will find finger-licking, freshly prepared food. Do not miss on Desserts. Thai Desserts taste heavenly. You will not get this authenticity of Thai cuisines in South for sure.
Actually, we found the best Thai Food at Sukho Thai Historical Park Night Food Market. During weekends, some of the best city chefs come to set up their food stalls for this Night Food market. Well dressed, smiling stall owners will freshly prepare all the dishes for you and what an amazing taste!! After back-packing through out North Thailand for almost 10 days and being to multiple night markets, this is our claim that you will not get a better taste of Thai cuisines else where.
It was an amazing experience exploring the North Thailand and driving across Mae Hong Son Loop. Please drop us a comment in case we missed mentioned something for our fellow travellers.