A Motorbike trip across Mae Hong Son Loop stretches over multiple days and thus it is better to be well-prepared for Mae Hong Son Loop itinerary that suits your interests best, possible places of stay and the kind of roads you are going to drive on. We completed Mae Hong Son Loop in 7 days and here is day by day itinerary for our trip.
For our detailed blog on Mae Hong Son Loop Motorbike trip, please click here. We were short of time and thus had to skip Khun Yuam and Mae Sariang (directly reached Mae Chaem from Mae Hong Son). In case, you have enough time, we will suggest to spend more time along the way and soak experiences deep within. Here is our day by day details for Mae Hong Son Loop itinerary –
- Day 1: Explore Chiang Mai and around
- Day 2: Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao
- Day 3: Chiang Dao to Pai (Via Bua Tong and Mork Fa Waterfalls)
- Day 4: Pai to Sop Pong (Tham Lod Caves)
- Day 5: Sop Pong to Pang Ung Lake (Via Ban Rak Thai: Mae Aw)
- Day 6: Pang Ung Lake to Mae Chaem (Skipping Khun Yuam and Mae Sariang)
- Day 7: Mae Chaem to Doi Inthanon and back to Chiang Mai
Mae Hong Son Loop Itinerary Map
Here are key Mae Hong Son Places marked on Google maps. Please refer our Thailand blogs for more details about what you can explore at each of these places (Click on more options below to open in Google maps)
(Go to the Top) Chiang Mai is the place from where your trip to North begins and as soon as you reach Chiang Mai, you start getting positive vibes with cool sunny weather and warm welcoming people. Let us be honest upfront – You can not explore Chiang Mai in a day. It’s because this region of Thailand is not about visiting places but experiencing them. Still, for most of us who have paucity of time, we have tailored a one day trip itinerary for Chiang Mai here.
During the day, you may roam through the old city city exploring its Buddhist temples (Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang ) and drive a scooter to famous mountain temple of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep) and as day passes, you may explore Chiang Mai’s famous night markets and relax with a beer in a pub/restaurant near Ping River or in Old City.
Where did we stay: ZZ Hostel, Chiang Mai (Book here at booking.com)
(Go to the Top) Next day, we hired our motorbike (Yamaha PCX 150) from Chiang Mai and left for Chiang Dao. Most people straight away head to Pai from Chiang Mai but we will recommend a detour (~80 kms.) to this mountain town and stay at a farm in Chiang Dao. Chiang Dao ( เชียงดาว ) is a hidden gem in North Thailand with its unique flavour. And just as its name goes (Chiang Dao means “City of Stars”), It is an impressive mountain town, best suited for nature lovers and solitude seekers.
At Chiang Dao, you can enjoy your day by exploring famous Chiang Dao Caves, Wat Tham Pha Plong (510 steps peaceful Buddhist Mountain temple) and its natural hot springs. And if you happen to be here on Tuesday, then do not miss Chiang Dao’s Tuesday Market. This market has an authentic local flavour and not at all touristy.
Road from Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao
You will feel weather getting colder and temperatures dropping as you drive up from Chiang Mai to the summit of Doi Chiang Dao, third highest mountain in Thailand. Road is really nice with first half being plain and second half going through mountains. Drive is easy with it being a high-way and almost everyone following road-discipline.
(Go to the Top) On Day 3, we left Chiang Dao for Pai but actually, we reached Pai only in the evening as we took detours to visit and enjoy two of the best waterfalls in Thailand. First we headed to Bua Tong Waterfalls located at the fringe of Sri Lanna National Park. This waterfall 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. And on our way to Pai, we visited Mork Fa Waterfall, A huge and incredibly beautiful waterfall situated amid the jungles of Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. Post Mork Fa Waterfall, starts the real ascend as you drive negotiating sharp curves and slopes of Pai. There are 762 curves that you have to negotiate as you drive your motorbike with caution.
Road from Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao
This is the most treacherous part of your drive across whole Mae Hong Son Loop. After Mork Fa Waterfall , slopes are steep and curves are damn too sharp. There are a total of 762 bends that you need to negotiate before you reach Pai. Compared to any other stretch, this part is also a traffic heavy. We drove with caution and we will suggest you also to do the same. You may read about our motorbike drive from Chiang Dao to Pai here.
Where did we stay: Pai Punthong Resort Pai, a farm stay far from the city (Book here at booking.com)
(Go to the Top) Pai to Sop Pong (Pai to Sop Pong Motorbike/Scooter Drive) turned out to be a smooth and pleasant ride unlike Chiang Mai to Pai :). You will enjoy beautiful scenery on the way and soon reach the highest point, Doi Giwlom with panoramic views. After some sharp curves, it is advisable to take a break at this pleasant stop, enjoy fresh air and blue sky. There is also a swing that you can hang on and enjoy. Market at Doi Giwlom View point was the best market both in terms of prices and souvenirs available. In case, you like something, please do not hesitate to buy. You will not get a better deal elsewhere.
Sop Pong is home to the most splendid caves of Thailand and Tham Lod Caves in Sop Pong – สบป่อง is one of the most impressive and easily accessible of them. Huge dark chambers, massive colourful stalactites and stalagmites, pre-historic teak-wood coffins and experience of bamboo rafting – Tham Lod offers multiple unique experiences at one place to make it one of the most memorable exploration trip for you. There are more caves in the region that you can trek to and explore with the help of guides. There are also many natural trails that you can go for a walk or hikes.
Road from Pai to Sop Pong
Though these are lots of curves along this route but they are smooth and gradient/slope is manageable. Pleasant breeze and green mountains add to your joy. Please do carry a jacket with hoodie as it gets really cold while driving. Overall, road condition is great, well paved and with all yellow signs at curves making it a perfectly safe ride. Traffic is far low compared to Chiang Mai to Pai. Traffic goes down as you go to the western part of Mae Hong Son Loop. At some points, traffic is so less that you find road only for yourself for kilometers. Read more about our ride from Pai to Sop Pong here.
Where did we stay: Cave Lodge is the best accommodation option in Tham Lot . Though rooms are basic but they provide excellent guidance to explore caves and area around. Owned by John who himself is an explorer and has explored many caves in the region, they offer multiple cave exploration, hiking and trekking options for which you can enroll on the spot. (Book here at booking.com)
(Go to the Top) Tham Lod Caves to Ban Rak Thai (Mae Aw) is the smoothest of all rides across Mae Hong Son Loop. On your way, you can visit Thampla Phasua Waterfall, Pang Tong Palace ( Country residence of Thai Royal Family) and Mae Hong Son Bamboo Complex (Splendid Bamboo forest). We left Tham Lot after breakfast and reached Ban Rak Thai by lunch while we took short breaks at all above places.
Ban Rak Thai (Also popularly known as Mae Aw) is one of the best offbeat destinations that you can explore in North Thailand. With a taste of Chinese culture, splendid lake reservoir in the center and tea garden cottages on surrounding mountains, this tiny village is laced with panoramic breath-taking natural beauty.
After exploring Ban Rak Thai (Mae Aw), we headed to Pang Ung Lake.
Popularly known as “Switzerland in Thailand”, Pang Ung has mesmerizing beauty with Its beautiful lake, green pastures, pine forests and misty mornings. We will say that it turned out to be a surprise gem on our Mae Hong Son Loop itinerary.
Road from Sop Pong to Pang Ung Lake
Except the last patch closer to Mae Aw leading to slight ascend , rest of the path is almost plain with well paved road. Slopes are very much negotiable with smooth turns and slow gradient. It turned out to be a pleasant ride as we waved to cyclists on the way riding their bikes enjoying our ride together. It gets a bit colder towards the end as gradient goes up. Read more about our motorbike ride from Sop Pong to Mae Aw here.
Where did we stay: Camping at Pang Ung Lake. We had plan of quick stop-over at lake before heading to Mae Hong Son. As we drove up to the far end, we found people pitching tents. We inquired around and realized that we could rent a tent on the spot at 200 Thai Bahts (Small) or 400 Thai Bahts (large) for the night. We immediately decided to drop our bags and get a tent for over-night camping at Panu Ung. You can not book these tents online. You may try booking by calling at the contact details mentioned on our blog here.
(Go to the Top) After capturing misty mornings of Pang Ung Lake, we left for Mae Hong Son (around 1 hour drive). It was cold in the morning and our hands were shivering while driving our motorbike. At Mae Hong Son, we straight way headed to Cafe Station (Opposite Post Office) to get our Mae Hong Son Loop Certificate. (Do you know that you can also get a certificate for Mae Hong Son Loop? read more here) After getting our Certificate, we had breakfast at Salween River Restaurant and visited Wat Chong Klang Temple right next to Mae Hong Son Lake. You can find more about the offbeat things that you can do in Mae Hong Son at our blog here.
From Mae Hong Son, we directly headed for Thung Bua Tong Wild Sunflower fields at Doi Mae U Kho. As we had limited time with us, so we decided to Skip Khun Yuam and Mae Sariang. In case, you have one more day, you may also head to Mae Sariang. After capturing Sun-flower fields, we directly headed for Mae Chaem for our night stay.
Road from Pang Ung Lake to Mae Chaem
This route is very much like driving on plain highway with limited slopes and curves. You will pass through Thai villages and rural areas. Just ensure to have ample gas/petrol as there are very limited options on the way.
Where did we stay: Fuang Fah Camping – Amazing camping site and super-amazing owners (Book here at booking.com)
(Go to the Top) We left from Fuang Fah Camping in the morning for Doi Inthanon. Doi Inthanon, 2565 meters above sea level, is the highest mountain peak in Thailand and forest around Doi Inthanon is one of the 14 original national parks of Thailand. At Doi Inthanon, we visited Twin Royal Pagodas and enjoyed exploring the hikes of Ang Ka Lunag and Kew Mae Pan Natural Trails.
Doi Inthanon National Park is also home to the most magnificent waterfalls in Thailand. Mae Klang Waterfall, Mae Ya Waterfall, Siriphum Waterfall and Wachirathan Waterfall are some of the waterfalls that you can visit in the National Park. On our way back to Chiang Mai, we visited Wachirathan Waterfall. Of all the waterfalls we visited in Thailand, this one was certainly the most powerful one. Falling from a height of 80 meters, it filled the air with mist and spray to drench anyone taking a loop-walk.
Road from Mae Chaem to Chiang Mai
Road from Mae Chaem to Doi Inthanon is quite narrow till you reach Chiang Mai – Doi Inthanon Highway. At curves, it gets difficult to see another vehicle coming from the top, so blow horn and go slow. From Doi Inthanon to Chiang Mai, it is an easy drive on plain highway.
We hope that this helps you plan your Mae Hong Son Loop itinerary and bike trip better. For our detailed blog on Mae Hong Son Loop Motorbike trip, please click here. Please fell free to drop us comments in case you need more information or you want to share additional information with fellow travellers that we missed to cover here.