A Motorcycle Adventure On Northern Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Loop

by Marc Valentine

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Conquering The Mighty Windy Mae Hong Son Loop On Two Wheels

What The Heck Is The ‘Mae Hong Son Loop’ Exactly?

Well, in a snapshot… the Mae Hong Son Loop is a series of Roads through a remote Province of Northern Thailand…

A route beginning in Chiang Mai and arching North to within a few kms of the Burmese border…

… the loop takes curious travellers by car or motorbike, to the peak of the tallest mountain in Thailand… through remote scenic villages… to the Karen Longneck Hill Tribes, and exposes those who dare to challenge the 1864 bends and curves of the loop – to some of Thailand’s most scenic and jaw dropping scenery.

In a sentence… the Mae Hong Son Loop is an epic, once-in-lifetime road trip adventure.

We did the Mae Hong Son Loop by motorbike… our Trip commenced clockwise from Chiang Mai & included a detour to Mae Sarieng as an extra leg to the journey.

Our journey in a snapshot:

Day 1 – 291kms

Chiang Mai  –  Doi Inthanon National Park and waterfalls  –  Mae Chaem  –  Mae Sariang

Day 2 – 238kms

Khun Yuam  –  Mae Hong Son

Day 3 – 40kms

Mae Hong Son  –  Karen Long Neck Village

Day 4 – 151kms

Ban Rak Thai (Chinese Village on the boarder of Burma (Myanmar)  –  Soppong

Day 5 – 164kms

Pai  –  Chiang Mai

Mae Hong Son Loop – Day 1.

Chiang Mai to Mae Sariang

Lets Take It From The Beginning… Chiang Mai

We flew into Chiang Mai, to spend a few nights in Thailand’s relatively sleepy northern capital (it’s sleepy compared to Bangkok)…

Before setting about finding a reliable motorcycle hire shop to secure a bike for the next 5 days… a bike that would pack enough grunt to tackle Northern Thailand’s near vertical roads… and preferably have a plush, very spongey seat to help absorb some of the bumps along the way.

We called Joe from Joe’s Bike Team (a friendly German guy living in Chiang Mai for 20 years) who assured us he could have the perfect bike ready for us that afternoon.

A little excited, we immediately went to see Joe & inspect our machine… a shiny 650cc Kawasaki ER-6n road bike.

As the name suggests – the Mae Hong Son loop is literally a loop (duh) starting in Chiang Mai and winding North towards Burma’s border… through some of Thailand’s most picturesque towns & villages – including those of the Karen ‘Longneck’ Hill tribes… before winding it’s way south again, back towards Chiang Mai…

So you can ride the loop in two directions depending on which way you leave Chiang Mai.

We decided to tackle the loop in a clock wise direction – leaving behind the relative comfort of Chiang Mai early in the morning & climbing the dizzying heights of the Doi Inthanon mountain…

… towering 2565 metres above sea level.

… and as the sign at the peak accurately points out is “The Highest Spot In Thailand”.

Before stepping foot on the highest place in Thailand however… we had a detour to make to check out the Mae Ya Waterfalls… definitely worth a mention, as they’re among the most spectacular waterfalls that we’ve come across in Asia.

 

Mae Ya Waterfall Thailand

The Amazing Mae Ya Waterfall Thailand, Near Chiang Mai

Roughly 72kms from Chiang Mai – the trip out to the Mae Ya falls was a pleasurable, still relatively cool ride in the morning…

… and the perfect road to get properly acquainted with our new bike.

We were fortunate enough to have the Mae Ya falls exclusively to ourselves… not bumping into another soul for the 30-45 mins we spent there… which we found quite remarkable considering they’re under an hours drive from Chiang Mai.

Back in the seat of our trusty Kawasaki chariot, we made another stop a short distance down the road at the Mae Klang Waterfall, (less remarkable than Mae Ya falls – possibly not a ‘MUST’ if you are rushed for time)

Before continuing our journey to the loftiest point in all of the Thai Kingdom… Doi Inthanon Summit.

The Loftiest Point Or (Highest Spot) In All Of The Thai Kingdom

 

Doi Inthanon Mountain Thailand

The Highest Spot in Thailand – Doi Inthanon Mountain

The ride up to the peak of Doi Inthanon was nothing short of splendid… the air cooled to a more & more ridable temperature the higher we climbed as a result of the altitude… and the cool riding conditions were a welcome relief from the searing temperatures of Northern Thailand’s summer heat.

The lush green forest hugs the road tightly… casting huge shadows over the road providing much needed shade and protection for our rapidly ‘pinkish’ turning forearms which were taking the brunt of the sun’s harsh rays…

… the shadows coupled with the cool – high altitude air… covered my redenning arms with goosebumps in no time at all. An unexpected reason we should have worn our long sleeves… for cover, not just from the heat but from the cold too.

At the top of the Doi Inthanon, we were met by a small Tourist Centre (which was closed), and to be frank – a less than spectacular view.

 

Doi Inthanon Viewpoint

The View From Doi Inthanon

The view was more impressive at the viewpoint 1km or so down from the peak.

Heading back down the mountain we took a right turn at highway 109… which for the most part was a fun road to travel on… the road twists, turns and winds back onto itself for what feels like a thousand turns…

After our descent from the the Doi Inthanon – we found ourselves riding through a landscape that had turned drastically bare and arid…

… this is where the road got a little nasty for the first time.

 

The Mae Hong Son Loop - Northern Thailand

A Remote Section On The Mae Hong Son Loop

We were forced to slow to between 60 – 80 kms through this stretch – to avoid falling victim to the many potholes and dirt patches so we wouldn’t come unstuck.

While on the subject of rough Road… neither Anna nor myself speak or read more than a few words of Thai – but we quickly learned the English translation of this road sign – would have been something like this “slow down idiot, there’s a bloody tight bend coming up”.

 

Road Signs On The Mae Hong Son Loop

“Your’e A Baboon… Slow Down Or Die”

Just outside our final destination for day 1, the town of Mae Sariang…

The black clouds of death rolled in, and the heavens opened, dumping water on us… & all our gear for the next 30 minutes or so.

As luck would have it – we had the foresight to pack a cheap poncho…

That we had incidentally been lugging around in our backpacks since the last time we got caught in the rain on a motorcycle, in Vietnam.

It brought us great satisfaction to get some use out of our cheap, crappy poncho that we’d dragged around half of Southeast Asia.

There was one small problem to overcome however…

1 poncho…

2 passengers…

Rightly so – the driver (me) got preference so we made a quick pitstop on the side of the highway to don our extensive, very advanced and stylish wet weather gear (I put my poncho on) and slowly pulled back onto the road as the first few drops splattered on my visor.

With the bulk of my torso covered – excluding my legs and most of my arms which were still very exposed to the downpour – Anna tried in vein to use the back flap of the poncho to shield herself from the rain… and we miserably trudged on at a shadow of our former pace…

Thoughts swirling around our heads of how happy we’d be to get to the bottom of the mountain… in once piece, wet, but not wet and grazed from head to toe.

Mae Sariang Famous For Some Pretty Cool (But Illegal) Reasons

 

Mae Sariang - Part Of The Mae Hong Son Loop

A Side Trip To The Town Of Mae Sariang

The rain did pass, not long before Mae Sarieng… the tiny town with a checkered past we were destined to spend our first night – wet and exhausted but with spirits firmly unbroken.

Mae Sariang is overlooked by many travellers undertaking the famous Mae Hong Son Loop, and was, until the sealed road came through, we were told… part of a well known drug smuggling route used by the drug lords of the infamous Golden Triangle.

We got a room at the River Hotel, a timber lodge style building backing onto the river.

 

River Hotel Mae Sariang Thailand

A Nice Place To Rest After A Hard Days Riding

Inside our room, wet & cold… my forearms so red they made a beetroot look white…

We deployed our backpacks resulting a backpacking gear explosion, with clothes, both wet and dry dangling from anything inside the room that remotely resembled a hook.

A piping hot shower lifted our spirits… by far the best remedy I know for a cold & slightly miserable mood.

Then we heard it…

Very faint but definitely not a figment of our imagination… a scratchy, rustling sound from the general direction of the air conditioning duct.

What the hell was that?

Barely breathing, we both froze on the spot, letting time pass… knowing the little stowaway would give away it’s position sooner or later.

Then a soft squeal making it official… we wouldn’t be the only ones calling this room home for the night.

The hotel offered to switch us to another room but we were too exhausted to bother.

During the walk home from our dinner of ‘ole faithful’ pad thai noodles.… the entire town was plunged into darkness as the power was wiped out.

We managed to stumble home using a phone as a makeshift torch to find our hotel illuminated by dozens of candles (hardly the safest light source in an entirely wooden building we thought).

Sitting on the end of our queen size bed, we drafted an improvised but very sound ’emergency fire evacuation plan’ (jump from our 3rd story balcony & try to reach the semi-dry riverbed)

Then I assured Anna it was every man (or woman) for himself if the place goes up in flames – before drifting off into the kind of deep & peaceful sleep that you’d happily pay a large sum of money for on those frustrating nights when your brain refuses to switch off and let you rest.

It turns out, by a stroke of luck… with some assistance from our Bear Grills survival skills, we managed to survive the night in our mouse ridden, inferno magnet of a room.

Early in the morning, stocked up on supplies from the 7/11 we made tracks out of town… towards yet another waterfall after filling the Kawasaki’s thirsty fuel tank.

For the most part, the roads of Northern Thailand had been pretty kind to us for the first day of our motorcycle journey…

… little did we know, outside of Mae Sarieng things were about to take a change for the worse.

Mae Hong Son Loop – Day 2.

The Gorgeous Road From Mae Sarieng to Mae Hong Son

 

Checkpoints On The Mae Hong Son Loop

One Of The Many Checkpoints On The Mae Hong Son Loop – We Were Only Ever Stopped Once

After a brief stop in the town of Khun Yuam for lunch, we continued onwards & upwards… on a mission to reach the Mae Surin falls.

The riding conditions out to Mae Surin initially mirrored the first days ride – dry sealed road for the first 7kms or so… then the road got patchy before rapidly deteriorating…

… from a few potholes here and there, to ‘whoa I think I just saw a scrap of asphalt ‘

Ok maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but to say the road was treacherous in some parts would definitely not be an exaggeration…

Let me tell you… from avoiding the grimy loose gravel… to dodging huge potholes & even the odd Cow or Water Buffalo… made negotiating the unpredictable hairpin turns a white knuckle ride – in what feels like the most isolated part of the entire Mae Hong Son Loop.

 

The Mae Surin Falls Northern Thailand

The Perilous Rd To Mae Surin Falls – Note The Livestock!

Although a bit unnerving in parts… it was also a very rewarding ride, offering some of the most beautiful scenery Northern Thailand has to offer – while the road is still good enough to enjoy the ride anyway!

If you’re looking for a quiet place for a picnic… they don’t get much quieter… with the exception of a few groundsman, ours were the only voices to be heard at Mae Surin.

If isolation’s your thing…

… or your’e a bank robber looking for an inconspicuous hideout… you can even spend the night in a bungalow at the falls.

You’d be a braver man than I… the place was a ghost town during the day – so merely imagining the kind of deathly silence that I’ve never known… blanketing the area in the dead of night is enough to give me the creeps.

Frankly, the falls themselves are hardly worth the effort – as you can’t get close enough to really get an idea of their scale… there’s a viewing platform which offers views, though they’re hardly spectacular.

 

Mae Surin Falls From Thailand

Mae Surin Falls From The Viewing Platform

After the slightly disappointing falls, we made our way back the way we’d come…

… fighting our way over every inch of lousy road, as if the potholes & livestock weren’t enough… again some nasty looking rain clouds closed in around us.

Nudging the Kawasaki on a little harder, thankfully… this time we just kept out of the rains reach… just catching a few drops on my visor.

Northern Thailand’s Prettiest Town – Mae Hong Son

Mae Hong Son Thailand

The View Over Mae Hong Son

We made an afternoon dash towards Mae Hong Son… on what was so far for me, the most exciting and fun stretch on riding of the entire Journey. ‘A’ grade road… light traffic and fantastic weather…

The perfect recipe for a thrilling ride… weaving around the curves as fast as I would dare with a passenger on the pillion seat.

The fun was broken temporarily when one of the many long smooth bends tightened up into a hairpin turn…

… at the back end of the hairpin, out of our view, a team of road workers happened to be on the other side of the road…

As we rounded the bend, and the workers came into view, my eyes darted over to the team and in a split-second the Kawasaki had flicked over in their direction… as though for a moment my eyes had taken over the job of steering the bike.

 

Bends On The Mae Hong Son Loop

A Hairpin Turn On The Mae Hong Son Loop

One of the workers, pushing a wheelbarrow, minding his own business – happened to notice that if we continued on our current course… it would result in a direct collision with his wheelbarrow…

… the poor guys eyeballs doubled in size when he first saw us screaming around the bend towards him… his reaction was to freeze on the spot & brace himself… clearly terrified that some crazy tourists on a hired motorbike were about to slam right into the side of him and ruin his day.

We braked moderately… wiping off some speed and keeping the bike well clear of the road worker & his wheelbarrow…

I couldn’t help but have a chuckle to myself after turning back briefly to see a few of his co-workers having a laugh at his expense for getting spooked by a couple of tourists on a motorbike.

The thrills not over yet… a few more kilometres down the road… not far out of Mae Hong Son, we rounded another high speed bend and whizzed past a huge, thick, black snake winding his way along his own adventure on the Mae Hong Son Loop.

 

Mae Hong Son Town

Mae Hong Son’s Jong Kham Lake

We had mixed feelings about reaching Mae Hong Son, as for us, it signalled well over the half way point of our great motorcycle adventure.

Mae Hong Son itself is a small and breathtakingly pretty town, extremely close to the Burmese border… flanked by mountains on all sides, it’s hard to find a non-flattering view of the little town in Thailand’s remote north.

We made our way down to the picturesque Jong Kham Lake, and booked into Piya Guesthouse. A sweet little guesthouse with lovely hosts and in an excellent location.

Mae Hong Sons Beautiful Lake

The View From The Piya Guesthouse – Mae Hong Son

As night falls over Mae Hong Son… Piya Guesthouse shares its street with the local night market that’s pretty cool for a short wander through on the way back to the hotel at the end of the night.

Mae Hong Son Loop – Day 3.

The Karen Longneck Hill Tribe & The Unfortunate Accident

Karen Longneck Hill Tribe

The Karen Longneck Hill Tribe Village

We fired up the trusty Kawasaki the next morning – to visit the village of Huai Sua Tao… determined to see the Karen Hill Tribe people in the flesh.

The Karen Longneck Village happens to be located at the opposite end of up to 12 notoriously slippery and perilous water crossings.

The streams that must be traversed to reach the village have been “cleverly” sealed with concrete… however with only a few inches of water flowing over most of the concrete crossings year-round… the environment is perfect for slippery green moss to flourish.

 

Water Crossings Northern Thailand

Water Crossings That Must Be Crossed To Get To The Longneck Village

After stopping to inspect the first crossing thoroughly… we deemed it safe enough to cross (experts in water crossings that we are) our barometer (gut feel) for evaluating how safe the crossings were, turned out to be spot on… we got through without a hiccup.

I felt the back wheel slip a little on the 2nd crossing… but managed to keep the bike upright.

We motored through the 3rd, 4th and 5th streams all uneventfully.

At the 6th crossing, with my confidence at an all time high we entered the ankle deep water using the same method we had used to successfully overcome the previous crossings (following the old maxim ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’)

Riding in very slowly at about 10 – 12kms per hour in second gear… and began tediously negotiating the ever-so-slight left hand bend.

Making steady progress… we approached the halfway milestone, so close at this point to the Karen Village we could almost see their shiny brass neck adornments glistening through the trees, when…

BAM!

Quick as lightning… the back wheel came out from under us, and our trusty bike was laying on it’s side in the river.

 

Motorbike Accident On The Mae Hong Son Loop

Our Bike Out-Of-Action After Our Fall

I hauled the bike up out of the water quickly and pushed it out onto dry land to inspect the damage.

Amazingly the bike was in very good shape, a slightly bent gear lever was all that appeared to be damaged… but then,

Anna noticed it first…

… and when I kicked the stand down and the bike tilted slightly, black oil poured out onto the ground & I knew instantly… we weren’t in Sh%t creak, but we had just fallen over in it.

The bike’s engine cover had taken the brunt of the fall… and the short slide on the concrete had smashed a hole right trough the aluminium engine cover.

 

Damaged Motorbike

Damn it! – We Busted Our Poor Motorbike

Damn!

We weren’t going anywhere in a hurry.

We hailed some passers by and used their mobile phone to call Joe back in Chiang Mai with the phone call I never wanted to make.

” Ah… um… Joe, something’s happened – but don’t panic it’s not that bad”.

Joe was really understanding and insisted he come all the way out himself from Chiang Mai to collect the broken bike and supply us with a replacement bike.

With our helmets in hand, and my self esteem in tatters… we did the last 1km to the Karen Tribe on foot – including the remaining river crossings that were almost too slippery to pass when you are in hysterics of laughter.

 

Treking To The Longneck Village

The Last 1km To The Longneck Village On Foot – The Walk Of Shame

The experience was slightly overshadowed by our unfortunate fall – but we spent 30 mins or so mingling with the Karen woman who were incredibly friendly and more than happy to take pictures with us…

… then we headed back to see what we could do about getting back to Mae Hong Son.

The gentleman who sold us the tickets to the Long Neck Village (250B ea – not much is free in Asia) took it upon himself to ensure he got us & our bike back into Mae Hong Son.

For a price of course.

Before organising a ute though… he absolutely had to inspect the bike himself – this is where I got a crash course on crossing the rivers.

No longer an bike operator, but a mere passenger… I received thorough instructions on riding a motorbike through water.

See. slowly… no brake… No accelerate inside the river… Seeeee?

When my humiliating motorbike riding lessons were done… we pulled up alongside our once proud looking, but now sad & broken bike… along with around 6 other bikes (including one with a longneck as a passenger)

Anyone who happened to be passing by stopped and gathering around to discuss all possible options for getting us back on the road.

As the entire conversation was in Thai… I could do nothing but stand there in silence as the odd burst of laughter broke out… knowing in all likelihood it was my riding skills that were the but of the joke.

In the end we loaded the battered Kawasaki into the back of a ute and nursed it back to our guesthouse to wait for Joe’s arrival.

 

Taking Our Broken Bike Back To Mae Hong Son

Loading Our Broken Bike In A Ute To Take Back To Mae Hong Son

To our amazement Joe turned up not in a ute or van as expected…

but on a bike of his own, with a replacement bike on a sidecar…

it was a fascinating scene.

 

Joes Bike Team In Chiang Mai

Joe To The Rescue With Our Replacement Bike

Joe had dropped everything he was doing at his shop…

… rode the approx 235kms via Pai in the fierce midday heat to collect his road bike that I had crashed & broken… stupidly trying to ride through a river, and he even hauled a replacement bike with him all the way so we could finish the journey that we’d started.

Now that my friends is A1 service!

Mae Hong Son Loop – Day 4.

Mae Hong Son to Soppong, the Burmese Border, Tea Plantations & Ban Rak Thai

Ban Rak Thai Thailand

Ban Rak Thai – Growing Tea At Altitude On The Burmese Border

Throwing a leg over our new bike the next morning (feeling a little like an unfaithful husband) it was time to bid Mae Hong Son farewell…

hoping dearly to make it all the way back to Chiang Mai without any damage to bike No 2.

 

Tea Plantations In Ban Rak Thai

Stay On A Tea Plantation In Ban Rak Thai

A small Chinese settlement right smack bang on the border of Thailand & Myanmar… Ban Rak Thai is an isolated community making a living mostly by cultivating tea.

Yet again, as it was with so much of our trip… we were the first, and only tourists to visit Ban Rak Thai that morning.

Dismounting and wandering into a small tea shop for some “tea tasting”.

 

Tea Shop Ban Rak Thai

Tea Shop In Ban Rak Thai Thailand

I would have loved to have spent a night in Ban Rak Thai… & like so many other places I’ve visited around the world… I like to think I’ll get back there some day.

Such an isolated community, Chinese people in a foreign land, growing tea for a living, so close to the Burmese border – it’s an intensely curious & interesting town.

Growing Tea Ban Rak Thai

Working In The Tea Plantations Ban Rak Thai

In any case, we had to travel on to Soppong before tackling the final stretch of 145kms or so through Pai, then on to Chiang Mai, back where it all began.

With a bag of tea, and a new teapot strapped to the back of the bike with the rest of our gear, we drove out of Ban Rak Thai after a brief but thorough nosey around.

It’s an incredible little town & I would thoroughly recommend a visit if you ever get the chance.

Our next planned stop was ‘Fish Cave’ – which as we found out is a not really a cave, but more of a hole in the hillside… next to a stream that’s abundant with large fish.

The Road from Ban Rak Thai to Sappong passes right by Fish Cave… so we pulled in for a look.

The first thing we noticed was how serene the massive manicured gardens and camping ground were.

 

Fish Cave Thailand

The Beautiful Park At Thailands Fish Cave

The place is amazing. A little slice of heaven dropped by the side of the Road in Northern Thailand. A beauty that you’ve got to go and see for yourself.

The perfect place stop on the way to Soppong for, lunch and a rest under a big shady tree.

Little Eden & A Bamboo Raft Into The Depths Of Nam Lod Cave

We nearly rode right on through Soppong it was so small… if we had blinked I swear we would have missed it completely.

The major drawcard here is Tham Nam Lod (Lod Cave) and the Little Eden Guesthouse.

Sappong Thailand

Little Eden Guesthouse Sappong Thailand

The guesthouse is set among gardens that would be perfectly at home in a Disney movie…

… lush green foliage wraps around the swimming pool, and a little further towards the rear of the property you come across a suspension bridge dangling over the river below… where the local children swim to cool off during the dry hot day.

 

Sappong Town Thailand

Taking Refuge In The River In Sappong On A Hot Day

We rode out to Lod Cave, roughly a 20 minute ride out of Soppong… excited by the thought of floating on a bamboo raft into the depths of a deep, dark cave.

 

Tham Nam Lod Cave Thailand

Tham Nam Lod (Cave Lod) Thailand

On board a bamboo raft, our guide paddled us into the depths of the Cave where we disembarked to explore further into the Cave on foot.

 

Bamboo Raft In Tham Nam Lod

Bamboo Rafting Inside Lod Cave

With no source of backup lighting inside the cave… it’s a little intimidating knowing that you’re completely reliant on one ancient kerosene lamp to get you into, and more importantly, out of, a deep cave safely.

The old Kero lamp cast shadows on the caves surface – breathing life into the walls & ceilings of the otherwise dark and lifeless cave… the light moving along the surface slowly until finally dissipating entirely when our guide moved into the next area of the Cave.

Sharing the cave with little winged creatures with fangs was never far from your mind… as we could hear and smell the bats clinging to the ceiling above us everywhere we went.

A pricey but interesting experience.

Mae Hong Son Loop – DAY 5.

Soppong to Pai Then… Home To Chiang Mai

The Hippy Hangout Snobbed By Veteran Backpackers

 

Pai Thailands Hippie Epicentre

An Organic Juice Shop In Pai Thailands Hippie Epicentre

Asia’s hippie/alternative epicentre… Pai was the last unseen town on our Mae Hong Son Loop adventure.

We rode into Pai in the early morning with not a great deal stirring in town. Famous for it’s coffee, & being morning, we thought it prudent to stop at a coffee shop & sample the local brew before taking a short walk around the streets to get a better feel for Pai.

Overwhelmed with coffee & juice shops offering wheat grass shots and all other kinds of organic foods & supplements… the town really was a hippie hangout.

Keen to move on to Chiang Mai we didn’t spend a huge amount of time in Pai… maybe a couple of hours, but I think it was long enough to realise that it doesn’t deserve all negative press other travellers are so keen to dish out.

Warning To All Aspiring Mae Hong Son Loopers…

The Pai to Chiang Mai Road is not only the WORST Road on the Mae Hong Son Loop… But the worst we experienced in Southeast Asia (with the exception of the Road from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng in Laos).

 

Pai To Chiang Mai Road

The Perilous Road From Pai To Chiang Mai

Joe issued a warning about the Road when he dropped off our replacement bike, and he wasn’t the only one to mention how perilous the stretch of Road could be…

A solid hour of steep climbs & hairpin bends on a surface of black Road so slippery the surface shines and reflects the suns light like a mirror.

 

Travelling From Pai To Chiang Mai

Travelling From Pai To Chiang Mai

By the time we got to the bottom of the hill I wasn’t sure I’d ever sit again.

Although we were stiff & sore (unlike anything we had felt in the previous 4 days) … we were saddened that our adventure was so close to it’s end.

In a few kilometres we would ride our motorbike into Joe’s shop, kick the stand down, slide our helmets onto the shelf where we first tried them on a few days beforehand, and place the keys to our bike in his hands for good.

No more waking early in the morning…

… eager to start the day anticipating the unknown adventures the road before us would bring or the exploring that what was waiting for us in the next town.

So after nearly 1000kms, 52 litres of fuel, many towns and villages, and 2 motor bikes… we had conquered the Mae Hong Son Loop, met some amazing people and had the road trip of a lifetime!

 

Conquered The Mae Hong Son Loop

The End Of Our Mae Hong Son Motorcycle Adventure

Watch The Video Of Our Motorcycle Adventure On The Mae Hong Son Loop

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Adventure Travel Editor May 29, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Great read about a great ride! Shame about that poor bike, but it’s neat that you were able to get a replacement so quickly!
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Marc Valentine May 29, 2012 at 2:48 pm

It certainly was a great ride… can’t recommend it highly enough. Joe was incredible, we couldn’t have done it without him!

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jim@ famous drug dealers July 1, 2012 at 10:13 pm

I also detest waking up early.You got a hell of a motor cycle, nyce pic.
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Lisa October 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Great read! I’m doing this loop in a few weeks with my boyfriend, but we’re both motorbike novices. Given your experience, would renting a bike be a terrible idea for a beginner?

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Marc Valentine October 31, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Hi Lisa,
The road can get a little hairy at times, Are you planning to ride the loop as a passenger on your boyfriends bike, or hire your own?
If you’ve never riden before, & you want to ride your own bike around the loop, I would recommend low powered bikes (like a 250) some even do the loop on scooters but it’s slow going.
If you give yourself plenty of time to complete the loop and don’t force it, you should have an amazing time as beginners.

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Maxine Panchuk December 11, 2012 at 9:38 pm

man! i love your blog! I stumbled across it somehow (supposed to be studying for a final exam i have right away!!) – sounds like you guys had an amazing adventure and I can’t wait for our own 🙂

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Marc Valentine December 11, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Thank you Maxine, There were so many amazing times but the Mae Hong Song Loop was def a highlight for me. Good luck with your exams 🙂

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Linda Gliddon May 27, 2013 at 1:29 pm

What a fabulous trip report, had me laughing all the way through it. We did the North West tour of Vietnam from Hanoi to Sapa last year, very similar length of trip with very similar road conditions and loved every minute of it. Reason I found this report is that we are thinking of doing it next Feb. Your report has made me want to even more. Thank you for sharing your adventure.

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Marc Valentine May 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Do it Linda! I’m considering doing the loop again next Jan with a few friends, can’t wait 🙂

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Robyn January 8, 2014 at 3:03 am

My boyfriend and I want to do the loop but don’t want to bring our big bags with us. Suggestions as to where we can store them? We’d just bring our day bags with the bare minimum to get us through the few days on the road.

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Marc Valentine February 8, 2014 at 3:38 am

Hey Robyn, we stored our bags at the hotel/hostel we were staying at 🙂

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Motrev June 29, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Awesome trip report. Personally, I have never rented a bike in Thailand, the traffic there is terrible and I was really scared for my life =)

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