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Thailand, Mae Hong Son Loop Travel Guide in 5-6 days

Updated: Jan 26

The next day after having landed in Chiang Mai from South Korea, we rented a car and started exploring the north west of Thailand with border to Myanmar (Burma).


The Mae Hong Son Loop is a circular route that covers about 500-600 km in the North of Thailand starting and ending in Chiang Mai. Our experience there exceeded our expectations in so many senses! The scenery, the road trip, the food and the differences of culture you experience in these days when you travel through the loop is amazing and we would highly recommend it.


Options


There are mainly 4 options that you can choose when doing the Mae Hong Son Loop. Either by bus, by car, by motorbike or some people that are really fit do it also with the bike. We've done it by car and it was really comfortable and you felt save. The roads are very steep and curvy, so I would only recommend taking a motorbike if you're already experienced.

By car

This is the most pricy option ranging from 900 THB to 1200 THB per day, which is between 23 and 30€. We ended up paying something around 1000 bhat per day with insurance with Chiang Mai Wheels car rental. They gave us a Toyota Vios, which is the least we would get since the roads are so steep.

We had all the flexibility we wanted, air conditioning, music at the car and also we felt much saver. Moreover, we could take over all the motorbikes and most of the slow cars, which was really good since the attractions on the loop are quite far from each other!


By motorbike


Many people choose this option since it gives you the flexibility but it's cheaper than renting a car. The price is about 500 THB per day, which means it's worth it only if you're two people sharing the motorbike but this makes it even more tricky if you're with your backpacks. So depending on the level of experience with steep roads, going by motorbike might be a good option.


By bus

Doing it by bus is the cheapest option, which is about 30 € per person to do 5 bus journeys. And then you can rent a motorbike or pay for excursions at each of the main 5 stops where the bus drops you. The bad thing about the bus is that you don't have so much flexibility and you need to pay for excursions every time or rent a motorbike at each place you stop, which turns to be quite expensive. Moreover on the bus you can get sick as we've heard from other visitors. The main stops are Pai, Mae Hong Son, Khun Yuam and Mae Sariang.


We underestimated a bit the distances on the hills and did the loop within 5 days but we would recommend being at least one more day during the Mae Song Loop. After putting all our stops at Google Maps we saw that it would take 17h by car according to google to go to all the places haha (probably around 20h by motorbike).


Thailand, Mae Hong Son Loop Travel Guide in 5-6 days


Day 1: drive to Doi Inthanon national park and visit temples and waterfalls

  • We actually visited the temples that are further from the center of Chiang Mai to take advantage of our car. First, we visited Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.


Thailand beautiful temple during a fest

  • The other temple was Wat Phra That Doi Kha, which is not as popular but also very beautiful with beautiful views.


Thailand beautiful temple with a huge Buddha

Thailand beautiful temple with a huge Buddha and Èric

Thailand beautiful temple with a huge reclining Buddha

  • Then we went to Mae Ya Waterfall. This was the most beautiful waterfall we've seen in some months now. The way it falls on the rocks is beautiful. However, you should know that it closes at 17h and since it's part of the national park you should pay an entrance fee that is valid for the entire national park and is 300 THB per person.

Trixi at an amazing waterfall in Thailand number 1

  • Mae Klang Waterfall: Finishing the day you can visit that waterfall and then go to your hotel.


Number 2 waterfall in Thailand

  • We would really recommend sleeping at the hotel we stayed. It's like a Glamping, with amazing views to the National park, a swimming pool made of water from the waterfalls and beautiful little cute cabins. The best of the accommodation is actually the couple who runs it. They are both very nice, speak well English and are cute. They helped us a lot with many things such as clothes, directions and of course cooking an amazing breakfast and dinner. We stayed two nights with them.


Amazing glamping at Thailand national park

amazing glamping views

swimming pool from glamping hotel

food from glamping hotel


sunset from glamping hotel

Day 2: One more day at the Doi Inthanon national park


  • Visit the two Pagodas at the Inthanon national park.

Trixi with two pagodas of doi inthanon national park
  • Go to the top of Doi Inthanon, which is the tallest mountain of Thailand. If you do this in the morning you can see the sunrise on top of the clouds. The main advantage is that you can reach the top (2,565 m) by car. You can also do a hike there. One of the hikes will take you just 20 minutes, while the other will take you 2 h and you will see some waterfalls as well. We went for the short time this time haha

  • On the way back, visit some more waterfalls such as the Wachirathan waterfall. This one is amazing as well. We were lucky with the weather and had a perfect rainbow that was so close that you felt as if you could almost touch it.

Waterfall with a rainbow at doi inthanon



Rainbow


  • Enjoy the beautiful rice fields at sunset


Amazing rice field in the north of Thailand


Day 3: Drive towards Mae Song


  • Flower field: This drive is quite long, so we would recommend doing at least one stop. From November to December, the famous yellow wild flowers of this region bloom. There are so many and so big that it makes the mountain look yellow. And there's a famous spot where you can park your car and take some beautiful pictures. It's very popular among locals so you will encounter many Thai people. At the end of the drive you can

Trixi with a beautiful landscape of flowers in north of Thailand
Beautiful flower field in north of Thailand
Close up shot of a bee on a flower in Thailand

  • Mae Song temples: If you arrive early enough you can also visit the two famous Mae Song temples and the night market.

mae hong son loop Buddha statue


Mae Hong son loop


  • Here again we would recommend a lot staying at our accommodation. It's a budget accommodation but it's central and they offer a cooking class for just 80 THB per person. We've never seen a cooking class for that price nowhere before. Of course it's more like cooking together but it still felt like a cooking class. Pon, the owner, bought the food from the market on the same day and she was teaching how to cook 4 different dishes with 5 people and then we had dinner and tea together. Moreover, she also recommended us stuff to visit the next day, such as a long neck village that is not touristy and where you don't need to pay any fee.


Trixi and Èric at a cooking class

Results of a Thai cooking class

Before cooking at a the class in Thailand


Day 4: Head to Pai and visit the long neck village and the famous and beautiful Chinese village


Thanks to the recommendation of our host at the hotel in Mae Hong Son we could visit this town, where the people were from the tribe of the long neck. The rings that they are wearing on the neck weighs a lot! It's very impressive the first time you see them out of nowhere saying hi. There were also some people that escape from the current unstable political situation of Myanmar that were living in this town since it's quite close from the border.


mae hong son loop myanmar tribe long neck

long neck village thailand

  • Chinese village Ban Rak Thai.

This is really in the border of Myanmar (just 500 m away) and it's a very photogenic and beautiful village with many rice fields and Chinese style houses directly at a vally by the sea.

We could actually see the people picking up the tea leaves in real time ^^



mae hong son tea plantation
Èric at mae hong son tea plantation
mae hong son tea plantation

  • One person from the Mae Hong Son temple recommended us to visit a retreat place that is very famous for tourists. It's a Buddhist sanctuary where you can learn about Buddhism and stay for free and eat for free up to 10 days. You have to wear white clothes and be silent most of the time and there are two beautiful caves and beautiful mountain formations at this place.

Beautiful meditation cave at mae hong son loop

meditation cave mae hong son


Day 5: Stay one more night at Pai, or go to Chiang Mai.



Pai is beautiful itself. It's very prepared for tourists and a little bit of like a copy from Hoi An in Vietnam. Similar colorful lanterns, similar vibes. There's quite a lot of Marihuana and even the same happy balloons that you had in Hoi An. Of course the lamps with colors are very beautiful so it's extremely popular among tourists. It reminded Èric of Hoi An a lot... I mena Hoi An is one of the favorite places for tourists in Vietnam but it's actually quite a lot like a tourism theme park ^^ Very beautifully-made.



Pai mae hong soon loop


The night food market of Pai is also very nice. You can have many different types of food, from Thai, to Japanese, to Korean. We tried some Gyoza, and some street food insects and both were nicely cooked.



Pai insect food mae hong soon loop

Pai Mae Hong Son loop


We did the later but we would recommend staying one more night at Pai, or near the cave region before heading to Chiang Mai. Pai has many things close to it. In our case, we did a day trip with our car to visit the Nam Lod (or Tham Lot) cave from Pai. It's a 1h10 min drive by car and the cave is very beautiful. If you're there at the end of the dry season you can even get to visit all the caves entry with a tour that lasts 1h30 minutes. In our case, we just visited the first cave since the water level was high and the tour took just 30 minutes but it was beautiful with a column of 21 m and also taking the boat. Moreover, the driver of the boat fell while driving it. We felt sorry for him but after seeing that he was fine we found the situation quite funny.



Huge cave with river north of Thailand

Huge cave with river north Thailand

Huge cave with river north Thailand

Huge cave with river north Thailand


Pro tip: Pai is quite a small city, and it's very easy to extend the Visa there if you want to be longer than 30 days in Thailand, like in our case ^^. In our case it took about 45 minutes to get everything done. We've heard that in Chiang Mai or Bangkok it can take more than 4h to get the Visa extension ready.


I hope you enjoyed this long post! And I hope it will be useful for some people trying to do the loop in the following years. Happy travelling!







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