A motorbike trip across famous Mae Hong Son Loop of North Thailand is one of the best offbeat experiences that you can ever explore. You will be thrilled by the mesmerizing natural beauty and your soul will emerge rejuvenated as you would drive from one welcoming place to another soaking yourself into the unique experiences of Thai Culture, Cuisines and Colours.
We biked around Mae Hong Son Loop for 7 days and will cherish this experience for life-time. We are writing this blog both as a guide for our fellow travellers and also to inspire to pick a bike and go for a trip across Mae Hong Son Loop.
- What is Mae Hong Son Loop?
- Mae Hong Son Loop Map
- Mae Hong Son Loop Route
- Mae Hong Son Loop Itinerary
- Mae Hong Son Loop Motorcycle Rental
- Get your Mae Hong Son Loop Certificate
- Tips for Mae Hong Son Loop Trip
- Common Questions for Mae Hong Son Loop Trip
(Go to the Top) Let us start by answering the basic question – Mae Hong Son Loop is a famous multi-days motorbike route in North Thailand. You start from Chiang Mai city and drive through the mountains of North Thailand . You drive across different cities, villages, varied landscapes, mountains, forests, cultures and complete the whole circle to again end your trip at Chiang Mai itself. Below map of Mae Hong Son Loop will help you to understand the route better.
(Go to the Top) Here is Mae Hong Son Loop Google Maps. This map displays the key places on the route. To explore more around these or enroute from one place to place, please refer our Mae Hong Son Loop itinerary or individual blogs here.
(Go to the Top) Above map is a standard route for Mae Hong Loop but you may modify the same as per your own schedule and interest. Also, you may choose to take either clock-wise (Route-A) or anti-clockwise route (Route-B) to complete Mae Hong Son Loop.
Though Route B (Anti-clockwise) is more challenging as road from Chiang Mai to Pai has some 762 infamous mountain curves which you have to negotiate right at the start of your journey (read more here: Chiang Dao/Chiang Mai to Pai Scooter Ride) . Still, most travellers prefer this one as it provides the best experiences first to you and at later point of your trip, you may decide to skip few places.
Route A is just reverse of above route and people prefer to take that as it is an easy start and you can get some experience of driving through mountain curves before you drive through the tough part of Pai to Chiang Mai stretch towards the end of your trip.
(Go to the Top) 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 below is our itinerary. Please click on each place to know more for things to see in Mae Hong Son Loop
- 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
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 strongly suggest to spend more time along the way and soak experiences deep within. Here is day by day details for our Mae Hong Son Loop Itinerary.
We have written day by day details at our blog here – Mae Hong Son Loop Itinerary (7-Day): Accommodation and Road Details.We hope that this helps you plan your trip better. In case, you have more questions, please feel free to drop us your queries in comments below.
(Go to the Top) For our trip, we hired Yamaha PCX 150 from Chiang Mai. It was such an amazing decision as we would not have negotiated those sharp mountainous curves without a strong companion like Yamaha PCX 150. It’s a long ride and at times, you do not get any village or town for 30-40 kilometers, so getting a 150 cc good condition bike is minimum that you should look for.
There are large number of shops in Chiang Mai which rent out bikes but not all of them will have quality bikes. We hired our bike from POP Big Bike Rental. Just next to Tha Phae Gate. They are reliable with biggest collection of bikes in Chiang Mai, have their own mechanics to service and maintain their bikes.
For more details and tips on renting bike for Mae Hong Son Loop, we have written a detailed blog – Tips for Renting Motorbike for Mae Hong Son Loop Drive
(Go to the Top) So if you have accomplished the unique feat of conquering 1864 curves of treacherous and splendid Mae Hong Son Loop, you also fully deserve Mae Hong Son Loop Certificate of Conquest. Yes!! You can get a certificate for your unique bike trip across North Thailand. When you reach Mae Hong Son, you can get your certificate from either of these 2 places -i) Cafe Station right opposite Post Office ii) MHS Chamber of Commerce.
You can find more details about Certificate, charges and process to collect it at our blog here – Where and How to get your Mae Hong Son Loop Certificate?
- You can also go across Mae Hong Son Loop through public transport, but it is suggested to have your own bike/car. It provides great flexibility to take detours and explore more.
- Again and again, get a good bike!! minimum 150 cc.
- Drive slow and safe. Bends are treacherous but you can easily navigate with caution. Follow lane discipline and do not rush.
- Put directions in offline maps as you may not have internet at some places especially while driving from one city to another.
- Helmet is must. Helmet is must (full face if possible – will also save you from sun-burns)
- International Driving License is must to drive in Thailand.
- Sun-Screen!! Always put whenever you are going out (also while driving) otherwise you will have bad sun-burns.
- Shades!! Get good shades. Will be very handy while driving.
- Carry a set of warm clothes. North gets colder and you will need them as you will go up in mountains
- Keep a rain jacket and gloves handy. It will help you whether it rains or gets colder at high altitude. Also it gets windy and rain jacket really helps while driving.
- Keep at least 7 days for the loop else you would end up only driving most of the time.
- Don’t hesitate to skip few places. Better to soak more than watch more.
- Winters (Nov – Feb) is the best time for hitting Mae Hong Son Loop. Avoid rainy and summer season.
(Go to the Top) Towards the end, here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions that you may have while planning your trip. We have tried to cover all details comprehensively, still in case you have any more queries, please do not hesitate to drop us a comment.
Q.1 Why should I go on Mae Hong Song Loop Drive?
A basic question and a simple answer – You will miss the best of Thailand if you do not explore North. North Thailand is very splendid with its natural beauty and you tend to experience the Thai culture and cuisines to the best here. A road-trip across Mae Hong son Loop is a power-packed package for all this. You may read more here – 10 Offbeat Things to do in North Thailand/Mae Hong Son Loop
Q.2 Is it safe to go on a back-packing trip in North Thailand?
Yes, very much!! During our trip, we did not face even a single instance of cheating or inconvenience. People are warm and welcoming. Even though most people do not know English, still they go out of the way to help you with best sign language possible. At times, we even left our luggage back in parking while we went for a hike. Saying this, always be cautious and that would suffice.
Q.3 I hired a 110 CC bike for visiting places in Chiang Mai. Can I take the same for Mae Hong Son Loop?
No!! No!! No!! Minimum 150 CC bike. First of all, it would not be safe to drive with 110 CC bike at those treacherous mountain curves. Secondly if it would break mid-way, you will have no-where to go. There will be good long 30-40 kilometer stretches where you will find nothing if your bike breaks down. So get a good bike, please.
Q.4 How much time does it take to complete Mae Hong Son Loop?
We completed in 7 days (skipping Mae Sariang). Depends on you on how much time do you want to spend at each place but 7 days is minimum that you should plan for else you would end up driving most of the time.
Q.5 We are in a group. Should we get individual bikes?
Depends on you. If you are in a group then we will suggest one person to ride as a pillion. Person sitting behind can easily give directions and also enjoy views. In case, you get tired driving, you may also take turns.
Q.6 What is the best itinerary for covering the loop?
We have written a post ( read here ) only about our itinerary for Mae Hong Son Loop. We will suggest to modify the same as per your interest and schedule. Please drop us a comment in case you need any inputs.
Q.7 What is the road condition across Mae Hong Son Loop? I read at some forums that road is not that good.
Road is well paved all across the loop. It’s only those mountain bends/slopes that you need to be cautious of. You will enjoy most of your ride watching amazing views as you will drive through mountains, forests, villages and fields.
Q.8 Do you get a lot of traffic on the way? Is it difficult to drive?
You will get drive only at 2 stretches – i) Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao/Pai and ii) Chiang Mai to Doi Inthanon. Traffic goes down significantly as you go beyond Pai and Doi Inthanon. Actually, you will not even find any vehicles at times for a good stretch and have the road only for yourself.
Q.9 What if my bike breaks down on the way?
Aah!! That could be quite troublesome as there are some good 30-40 kilometer stretches for which you will not find anything leave apart a mechanic. After our trip, we realized that we should have carried a basic repair kit with ourself.
Q.10 I am not a skilled motorbike driver for mountains. Should I go to Mae Hong Son Loop?
In case you have driving license means you know basic highway driving. Driving through mountain curves could be an issue for you. We will suggest you to take clock-wise path (refer path details above in Route section). And as you will drive more, you will learn to negotiate tough turns.
Q.11 I do not know driving at all. How can I accomplish Mae Hong Son Loop?
Driving by yourself is not the only way to go on Mae Hong Son Loop. There are people who go across using public transport and also hitch-hiking.
We hope that this helps you plan your trip better. Please drop us a comment in case you need more information or have more to share with fellow travellers. We usually respond within a day or two unless we are out to an offbeat destination 🙂