Prempracha minivan from Chiang mai to pai, mae sariang, maehongson
How to travel to Mae Hong Son
December 16, 2013
Chiang Mai and North Thailand Tours
When is the best time to visit Chiang Mai ?
February 26, 2014

Sample Itinerary

Are you thinking about travelling on the Mae Hong Son Loop?  This iconic 600km loop starts in Chiang Mai and travels through Mae Hong Son province, traversing through rugged mountains and some of the best scenery in Thailand. It finishes back in Chiang Mai and takes a minimum of roughly 5 days to complete, although you could easily extend this, as there are so much to be discovered. The loop travels through the towns of Pai, Mae Hong Son and Mae Sariang. From these towns, you can take day trips out to discover local cultural and natural wonders. Mae Hong Son is known as an ‘off-the-beaten-path’ destination, and the opportunities for authentic cultural adventure and learning are plentiful.

The Mae Hong Son Loop can be done by self-drive (car or motorbike) or organised tour . To give you an idea of what a Mae Hong Son Loop trip would be like, here’s a sample itinerary . This itinerary goes in an anti-clockwise direction, but you could also do it in the reverse direction (there’s no difference and the distance is the same). This one takes 7 days by road, but you could modify it as you wish, adding extra days for activities, side trips, trekking etc.

Mae Hong Son Loop

Day 1) Chiang Mai to Pai

From Chiang Mai take the 1095 road west to Pai. You’ll pass the tourist area in Mae Rim, if you wanted to stop off to visit the Tiger Kingdom, elephant camps, ziplining and other such adventure activities along the way. O/n in Pai

Day 2) Sightseeing Pai

Enjoy the sights in and around Pai, such as the Pai Canyon and hot springs. Other popular activities here are rafting and trekking.

Day 3) Pai to Mae Hong Son (approx 3hrs, 110km)

Take the 1095 road north to Mae Hong Son. This windy mountain road is where you can admire the lofty mountain landscapes that Mae Hong Son is famous for.  It has several view points along the way, which are a good place to stop for pictures and rest breaks. Attractions on the way include Tam Lod Cave (Coffin cave) and Wat Tham Wua monastery -a beautiful and quiet forest monastery offering meditation retreats.

Mae Hong Son Loop view

Mae Hong Son Loop view

Day 4) Sightseeing Mae Hong Son:  Day trip to Ban Ruam Thai & Ban Rak Thai (Mae Aw) villages

Spend the day visiting the idyllic villages nearby by the Burma border. Ban Rak Thai (formerly Mae Aw) is a Chinese settlement renown for its tea production and rustic mud hut buildings, selling local souvenirs such as Chinese tea and preserves. Twenty minutes drive from here is the neighbouring village of Ban Ruam Thai , which is centered around the idyllic Pang Oong Lake.  An early morning wave of fog which sits above Pang Oong Lake, surrounded by towering pine trees, is the popular postcard scene that Ban Ruam Thai is famous for. As such, it is nicknamed the ‘Switzerland of Thailand’ due to its European type weather and ecology.

Once you are back in Mae Hong Son town, the main attractions here include; Wat Doi Gong Mu temple, a hilltop temple just ten minutes from the town center. The temple offers a clear view of Mae Hong Son as a valley town ringed by mountains.


Day 5) Mae Hong Son – Mae Sariang (approx 3hrs, 165km)

Take the 108 road south to Mae Sariang. Another very scenic part of the loop, which takes you on seemingly endless twists and turns through bucolic valleys and fertile farmland. The half-way point is Khuan Yuam, a small and quaint backwater town. The main attractions here are the World War II memorial centre, showcasing relics from the war with Burma, and Wat Tor Pae (a 16th century Shan style temple).

Mae Sariang

Mae Sariang

Day 6) Sightseeing Mae Sariang

Mae Sariang is a quaint valley town by the Yuam river. Mostly known for its trekking opportunities through rugged and pristine forests. Remote and traditional hill tribe villages are scattered throughout the area, and the chance to visit them as part of a trek, is a big part Mae Sariang’s appeal. As a small valley town which sees only a handful of tourists each year, it offers little in the way of organised group treks or tours, and most are run privately. Some travellers rent motorbikes, in an attempt to try and find villages themselves, but most are unsuccessful in doing so, or have a very mediocre village experience. We always recommend going with a local guide instead of visiting a village by yourself. You’ll have a much more positive and informative experience all round.

Day 7) Mae Sariang to Chiang Mai (approx 4hrs, 180km)

The last leg of the loop, and the last chance to enjoy the glorious mountain scenery. A four hour drive on the 108 road, the first half of this leg has a lot of curves, and last half from the town of ‘Hod’ back to Chiang Mai is straight highway. A part of the road journeys alongside the Yuam river and.  The main stop-off site on this leg, would be Doi Inthanon National park and mountain. The summit of Doi Inthanon mountain is the highest point in Thailand (2,562metres above sea level). As you drive up to the top, the ecology and climate starts to become visibly more European. Attractions on the way include; two royal pagodas, and several waterfalls (the main one is Wachiratharn waterfall). Upon arrival at the summit, there’s a short walking trail at the top (Angkha nature trail).


– You might want to allow more than 5 days for the loop. This is to build in ‘recovery’ time after travelling each leg of the loop, and for side trips to beautiful villages, activities and sightseeing in each of the main points of the loop.

– If you suffer from motion or car sickness, come prepared as the windy roads on this loop are pretty challenging.  So come prepared with anti-motion medication, otherwise there are pharmacies in all of the main towns

– During the high season winter months (Nov-Feb), it’s recommended to book accommodation beforehand, as a lot of Thai tourists flock here from Bangkok and the south to enjoy the cooler climes

– Despite the remote locale, free WiFi is offered in most guesthouses/hotels and all of the major towns have atms

Useful Links

Mae Hong Son Loop Map

Comments are closed.