Driving the Mae Hong Son Road

Published: 03rd September 2010
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Driving the Mae Hong Son loop can be a real adventure for anyone looking for a trip with a difference, the chance to escape the hustle and bustle, and see some of the most beautiful, natural landscapes that Thailand has to offer.



The loop can be done by various means, car, bicycle, or motorbike, and generally sticking to the main roads means that the roads are in very good condition all the way around. There are some tracks that are relatively unexplored, that can be unpaved, and badly potholed, but these should only be attempted on an off road bike or truck.



Armed with a good quality map of the region and a guide book, I waited to make sure I wouldn't miss out on any of the sights along the way. The map shows that the loop can be driven in either direction, clockwise or anti clockwise, so for reasons unknown, I decided to do it clockwise. This meant leaving Chiang Mai, after a hearty breakfast of sausages and eggs, fairly early in the morning. My first destination was the Doi Inthanon national park.



Doi Inthanon was a pleasant, uneventful ride away. Leaving the city behind, I was able to pick up some speed as the traffic thinned out. The air was clear and warm, and I'd stocked up on plenty of water for the journey ahead. One of the disadvantages of driving the loop on a motorbike is that unless you want to carry it, you have to travel light. I'd packed a small bag of clothes and toiletries and camera and because my bike had a basket was able to strap it in. I'd recommend buying some elasticized straps for this purpose, that way you know you won't lose anything out of the front and it makes the drive more comfortable, not having to carry it on your back!



The second day involved an early start and a long drive. Destination, Mae Hong son. It is possible to stop off somewhere along the way and explore this beautiful region more thoroughly, resulting also in two shorter driving days, but I decided to do did it all in one day and instead have longer in Mae Hong Son.



I spent two gorgeous nights in this lovely town and was able to really kick back, relax and take it all in before hitting the road again... This time to Pai; a sleepy town with an air of relaxation, this place is really starting to hit the map as jumping off point for treks and tours of the region. Surrounded by natural beauty, waterfalls and hill tribe communities it's not difficult to see why. Two nights in Pai, and with time running out, it was time to head back to Chiang Mai. This drive was easily achievable in a few hours, so I left late morning and drove back in glorious sun. This part of the ride was the most fun, and interesting, because of all the corners and bends in the road. Cruising around each corner bought a new view of mountains and jungles and small villages.



Back in Chiang Mai, I checked back into my guest house and enjoyed a beer or two while downloading all the photos I had taken and reminiscing about the adventure I had just had. What a memory driving the Mae Hong Son loop was, one that I hope to experience again one day.



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