The Mae Hong Son Loop – Thailand’s Most Scenic Drive
The Mae Hong Son Loop is an engaging journey through northern Thailand’s stunning countryside, providing you with an opportunity to witness some of its finest scenery.
Mae Sariang provides an idyllic escape, featuring an amiable small town atmosphere, scenic lake, and breathtaking bamboo bridge.
Mae Hong Son Loop offers an unforgettable driving experience for car and motorbike riders, but beginners should tread carefully when embarking on such an extraordinary journey. Before making such a significant commitment to drive this epic loop, here are some factors you should keep in mind:
Mae Hong Son Loop’s first leg runs from Chiang Mai to Mae Sariang and back again – it is long, straight, and fairly uninspiring, perfect for practicing driving before embarking on more demanding sections of road. Driving this section on day one gives you ample opportunity to familiarize yourself with both bike or car before beginning the more complex portion of Mae Hong Son loop’s route.
From Mae Sariang, the road takes an undulating path north towards Pha Bong and then northwest toward Ban Rak Thai. Along this rural road are stunning mountain landscapes; especially noteworthy are Pha Bong Viewpoint and its Hot Spring Facilities for relaxation after a day on the road.
After this stop, the road heads toward Mae Hong Son, the capital of its namesake province in Northern Thailand. Situated near Burma’s border and home to an eclectic blend of Burmese, Thai, and hill tribe people who give the region its distinctive character, Mae Hong Son offers visitors a truly special experience.
From here you can access Route 1095 which winds its way around mountains and jungle. Reportedly there are 1,864 curves along this stretch! Certainly not suitable for beginners, if you feel confident enough it could make for a truly thrilling journey!
Route 1095 will lead you directly to Pang Oung Reservoir, known as “Little Switzerland” due to its combination of lake and evergreen forest scenery. It is another great opportunity to witness another side of Thailand than what you typically experience from day-to-day life in Thailand.
From here, your trip should culminate with a visit to Doi Inthanon – Thailand’s highest mountain and national park surrounding it, boasting waterfalls, hiking trails, and beautiful gardens – which definitely deserves an entrance fee visit from any nature lovers!
Route 1095 is widely considered Thailand’s most scenic drive. It’s no secret why: Route 1095 features miles and miles of smooth tarmac that winds gently past mountains and jungle, boasting more than 742 turns and making motorbike enthusiasts’ dreams come true – not to mention novice riders who can still appreciate its rises and falls across lush hillsides.
The northern portion of this loop is known for its idyllic mountain roads and you’ll encounter numerous stops along the way for snapshots or drinks of cold coffee. One of our favourite stops was an overlooking spot overlooking a valley where only farm tractor engines could be heard; its breathtaking vista included views of rice fields below which provided the ideal setting for rest and refreshment breaks.
On your return journey back to Pai, the roads can become slightly more challenging; however, their scenery should more than make up for any obstacles along the way. When traveling through this route in rainy season (May to October), greater caution must be exercised as these routes may become slippery and inexperienced riders could easily come off their scooters.
If you want to spice up your trip, head north from Pai and visit Pha Suea National Park where Pha Suae Waterfall and Tham Pla, a fish cave are featured as attractions covered by one national park ticket – both providing great escapes from the main road!
From here you’ll return to Route 1095 as it heads towards Chiang Mai. This stretch is particularly stunning and you may just be the only foreigner seen. Lush canyons await, along with small villages in which there may not even be another foreigner present!
Some folks have completed this loop in as few as three days; however, we suggest spending at least four or five nights for optimal experiences. It’s also possible to spend longer in each town if desired in order to visit local attractions, take advantage of hot springs and visit long neck hill tribe villages.
Mae Hong Son Loop ranks high as an unforgettable road trip, boasting stunning mountain vistas and vibrant local culture. However, this 600km trek requires preparation and endurance; there are a few different approaches you can take depending on your budget and preferences – from taking tours to riding motorbikes.
Start in Chiang Mai, travel along this scenic drive through Mae Sariang and Mae Hong Son before arriving in relaxed Pai – it will provide a thrilling driving adventure through Thailand’s lush countryside!
Mae Hong Son Loop should be completed between November and January when northern Thailand experiences its cool and dry season. Road conditions will be optimal and visitors will witness plenty of flowers, such as Mexican sunflowers at Thung Bua Tong fields or Mae Surin waterfalls.
When traveling by vehicle, it’s essential that you familiarize yourself with the route ahead of time – there are numerous turns and curves which may present challenges for inexperienced drivers. One way of doing this is renting a motorcycle and joining one of Chiang Mai’s daily Mae Hong Son Loop tours.
Golden Triangle Rider Mae Hong Son Loop Tour provides an ideal option, as it includes three days cruising around the loop with an experienced guide. There are other tour operators offering similar excursions; please make sure to compare prices and reviews before making your booking decision.
Start from Mae Sariang and travel north on Route 108 for an enjoyable drive through verdant forests and stunning mountain vistas before arriving at Pha Bong viewpoint, an impressive lookout over valleys and forests that offers amazing panoramic views that is well worth stopping to take in.
From here, it is only a short drive to Ban Rak Thai – an inviting small town founded by Chinese refugees from Yunnan Province of China. Off the main route and offering ample opportunity for relaxation before continuing on your way towards Mae Hong Son.
Mae Hong Son
As soon as you leave Khun Yuam on Route 1095, Su Tong Pae Bridge awaits; its exquisite bamboo structure rises high above rice fields and connects one village with the temple in another village. From there the road winds towards Pang Oung Reservoir where visitors will witness an unexpected side of Thailand: lakes, mountain scenery and dense evergreen forests make up what many refer to as Little Switzerland!
Mae Hong Son is an ideal destination for hikers and backpackers, known as an outdoor haven that boasts stunning mountains and waterfalls. Although you could complete this loop in just a couple days, most travelers take at least three and sometimes five days for full enjoyment of its beauty and surroundings.
Mae Hong Son is a traditional town and home to hill tribes. If you have time, be sure to explore its charming old town or pay a visit to Wat Mae Hong Son – both are worthy attractions in themselves! Additionally, this town is well-known for the Mae Hong Son Dam which provides beautiful sunrise viewing spots along its beautiful lake.
If you’re planning a day trip outside Mae Hong Son, check out Thung Bua Tong Fields where the world’s largest collection of Mexican Sunflowers (though you must visit between November and January to witness this spectacle). Also of note is visiting Wat Muai To Temple or taking a dip at Mae Surin Waterfall.
There are various tour agencies that offer tours of the Mae Hong Son Loop from Chiang Mai, such as a 3-Day Mae Hong Son Motorcycle tour. This option provides visitors with an incredible biking adventure led by an expert local tour guide – perfect for anyone wanting an immersive and magical adventure without renting their own motorbike and driving across Thailand on their own!