For this North Thailand trip, I brought along Thailand Rough Guide and Thailand Lonely Planet for information on country background, accommodation, maps, restaurants and places of interest.
If you need up-to-date information on the roads, you can try asking in GT-Rider forum (requires registration).
GT-Rider Mae Hong Son map provides an accurate travel map of Mae Hong Son region. The laminated map can be found in at some book stores and bike shops in Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. The publisher also provides overseas shipping. You can find more details at GT-Rider website. Note that GT-Rider also provides Mae Sa Valley map.
GT-Rider Mae Hong Son Map
Day 2 (Khun Yuam – Mae Hong Son – Chiang Mai)
With a long day ahead of us, we set off early at 630am.
I have learnt to appreciate riding in the morning. The world is silent except for the comforting rumbling of your engine. The roads are empty except for the occasional excited rooster dashing across. You may let your thoughts wander but the cold keeps you alert. The fine tarmac and twisting roads to Mae Hong Son only made the ride more enjoyable.
En route to Mae Hong Son
Day 1 (Chiang Mai – Doi Inthanon – Khun Yuam)
We flew into Chiang Mai airport and boarded a taxi at 915am. Mr Mechanic is just a short 15 minutes and 120B drive away.
Sunrise from the plane
As arranged, Mr Mechanic already had 3 scramblers prepared for us – 2 Honda Degrees and 1 Honda AX-1. The staffs at Mr Mechanic spoke good English and were very helpful in setting us up for the journey. The bikes were checked, backpacks mounted using bicycle hooks and a GPS receiver mounting unit fixed onto the AX-1. We paid for the rental including insurance at 1300B per person for 2 days of rental. We also had to leave 1 passport as deposit.
It was 10am and we decided to have some food at KAFE, a small restaurant located a few shops away from Mr Mechanic. Having read about Kao Soi in the guidebooks, I gave it a try. It’s wonderful!
The Mae Hong Son Loop of North Thailand takes us from Chiang Mai through Doi Inthanon to Khun Yuam and finally to Mae Hong Son. From Mae Hong Son, the route continues to Pai before taking us back to Chiang Mai. As a short weekend ride, there is not enough time for adequate sight seeing. The time is just about enough to finish the loop with minimal stops. More days are certainly advised for Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son and Pai. The total distance we traveled was around 640km.
Map of North Thailand and route taken
If there is a riding mecca in South East Asia, the Mae Hong Son loop has got to be it. Probably the most popular riding route in Thailand, the Mae Hong Son loop is also known as the road of 1000 hairpin bends. Besides exhilarating bends on well-paved roads, the loop passes through scenic mountain regions blessed with points of interest such as caves, waterfalls, national parks, hot springs, temples and hill tribe villages.
The Mae Hong Son loop provides a good opportunity to visit North Thailand’s rugged north-west frontier. There are many possible side rides to places such as Mae Sa valley or even Chang Rai of golden triangle fame. This region of Thailand is also home to the famous Karen hill tribe. If the name does not ring a bell, the images of women with long necks adorned with brass rings would probably be familiar to you.