Day 2: Drive to Mae Hong Son
On the second day, it’s time to drive to the village the loop is called after, Mae Hong Son. This drive is 193 km and the longest drive of the entire Mae Hong Son Loop. The route to Mae Hong Son is filled with breathtaking views. Already by driving around there, you see so much from farmers working in the rice fields and children playing with each other and waving at you to waterfalls and monkeys hanging from the trees.
Start Your Day Early
Leave early in the day. About halfway along this route, you will find the Mae Surin waterfall. This is also a good spot to have lunch if you haven’t already. After chilling at the waterfall, we jumped back onto our motorbikes to continue driving to Mae Hong Son. This day is not the busiest, but the views of the area are amazing. Keep your eyes open en enjoy what this landscape has to offer. There are several viewpoints along the route which make perfect break locations.
Tip ➳ Take a lot of breaks in between driving to prevent blisters on your butt… (yup, I had them.. Imagine me laying on a bed cooling my butt with a frozen water bottle. Do yourself a favor and take breaks, haha)
When you arrive in Mae Hong Son, drop your bags at your hotel and look for the restaurant Crossroads. This restaurant has a fun vibe as a lot of backpackers go here and leave their mark on the walls. Plus, they have pretty good food. (the location is on the Mae Hong Son Loop map in the last chapter)
Where To Stay In Mae Hong Son
In Mae Hong Son, you will have a ton of choices for accommodations. But to make your life a little easier, we listed the best budget stay and the best luxury stay.
Best Budget Stay In Mae Hong Son ➳ Sarm Mork Guest House. Here you have your own green cozy little cabin for 14 euros per night for 2 people.
Best Luxury stay In Mae Hong Son ➳ Rimtarn Resort. Nice clean, luxurious rooms, great to relax after a long drive. For about 28 euros a night for 2 people.
The 3rd Day: Ban Rak Thai, Wat Chong Klang temple & Wat Phrathat Doi Kongmu temple
Ban Rak Thai
Close to the border of Myanmar (see the map of the Mae Hong Son Loop how close it is), there is a small Chinese village. It is a cozy town with a completely different feel compared to the usual Thai villages and cities you will visit. Next to the village and some tea fields, there is a lake making this perfect spot to enjoy a cup of Chinese tea. Another bonus is the beautiful scenic route that you have to take to get there. It is about a 40km drive from Mae Hong Son, so make sure that you leave early enough to visit the other temples and locations as well.
On the same route towards Ban Rak Thai (or back to Mae Hong Son), stop at the Su Tong Pae bridge. This is the small bamboo bridge that runs over a rice field. This bamboo bridge is small compared to the bamboo bridge in Pai, but it makes a nice location for a break. However, in case of much drought, you will not be able to see much of the rice paddy.
Wat Chong Kham and Klang Temple
Once back in Mae Hong Son, visit the Wat Chong Klang temple, which is located in the center of town on the banks of the small lake. In the evening, the temples are beautifully lit. The lake reflecting the shimmering lights of the temples. These temples themselves are relatively small but a nice place to wander around. Across from the temples and the lake is a lovely seating area, making the perfect spot to enjoy the view of the temples.
Phrathat Doi Kongmu Temple
Finally, the Wat Phrathat Doi Kongmu temple makes for the perfect location to watch the sunset. The temple is located on top of a hill just outside the center of Mae Hong Son. You can walk up there, but if you are already exhausted from the day trip, you can also go up by scooter (Which I would do). You have an incredible view of the town, and all of the surrounding mountains range from the temple. It almost looks like they are glued behind one another.
Watching the sunset at Wat Phrathat Doi Kongmu temple is the perfect ending to a lovely day of exploring around Mae Hong Son.
Tip ➳ It is also possible to start your day with this temple the next morning to see the sunrise instead of the sunset.
Mae Hong Son Loop Day 4: Many Viewpoints & Lod Cave
After seeing all the beautiful temples and sights of Mae Hong Son, it’s time to move on to Pai, or backpackers paradise. During the 103 km drive from Mae Hong Son to Pai, you will pass several beautiful viewpoints, of which Pang Ma Pha viewpoint and Doi Kiew Lom viewpoint are 100% worth saving to your google maps. Both viewpoints provide a smashing look out over the landscape of the North of Thailand. Check out the Mae Hong Son Loop map for the locations of all the viewpoints.
Lod Cave, The Coolest Cave Of On The Mae Hong Son Loop Map
In addition to these viewpoints, there is also a cool cave to discover, the Lod Caves. What makes the Lod Cave special are the huge stalagmite and stalactites hanging from the cave ceiling and the many different levels in the cave itself. But best of all is the stream in the cave! With your guide (you need one to enter), you will sail on a bamboo raft from one side of the cave to the other. It feels like the entire stream is filled with fish, and they come to the boat to get some snacks. While exploring the different cave levels, you can see the true rulers there: the bats. They are dangling from the ceiling and trying to catch mosquitoes from the air. Batman would be crazy jealous of how many bats have gathered in the Lod Cave.
Lunch Time & Pai Time
After visiting the Lod Cave, you will be hungry, so it’s time to get lunch. There are several nice restaurants next to the road where it is possible to eat a lovely Thai meal. I recommend you to drive towards Pai and stop at any restaurant along the way.
If you brought your own lunch, it is, of course, a good idea to eat your lunch at one of the beautiful viewpoints.
In our opinion Pai at the most pleasant and atmospheric location of the entire Mae Hong Son Loop. The town is a lot busier than it used to be back in the day, many tourists can be found there. However, the atmosphere in Pai remains very fun and cozy because of the many backpackers. When you have arrived in Pai, I recommend you to drop your bags at your hotel or hostel and wander about the streets of this cozy village to get a feel of the place.
Where To Stay In Pai
I’ve always dreamed of staying in a little triangle house, and Farmstay at Pai is the perfect place for it! The Farmstay at Pai has these cutest little huts (pretty luxurious) for 14 euros per night for 2 people. I love finding this kind of hidden gem stays!
This place is excellent value for money. It really is a little peaceful oasis, just a 10-minute walk from all the action areas of Pai. The cabins are lovely, and the staff is so friendly. I wouldn’t hesitate to come back here or recommend it to others.Nick (ES), Booking.com review
Day 5: Hot Spring, Historical Bridge & Bamboo Bridge
In addition to the cozy town of Pai, there is also a lot to see in the area itself. If you want to relax after the long drives you have made, there is a hot spring about fifteen minutes outside of Pai. Moreover, there is a beautiful historical bridge nearby to take in some of the cultures. This bridge has become famous because of its role in the second world war.
The bamboo bridge, the longest bamboo bridge in Thailand, with over 1 km in length. When you walk over this bridge, you walk through a beautiful rice field with many different levels and a breathtaking backdrop of mountains surrounding the valley.
See first hand what it’s like to work in one of these rice fields and how the bison are used to plow the fields.
In front of the bamboo bridge, there is a parking area where you pay a small fee of 30 Bath to enter the rice field.
The best time to visit this bamboo bridge is during the rainy season (between July and November) because then it is very lush and green. During the dry season, you can expect to find an orange / brown view because no rice is grown during that time. Nevertheless, this view is beautiful due to the mountains in the background.
The Pam Bok Waterfall & Land Split
On the way back to Pai from the bamboo bridge, you drive past two other sights: The Pam Bok waterfall, which is a small waterfall to relax at, and the Pai land split. At the land split, it looks like someone chopped the ground into two slices and left it like that.
I recommend you to sleep in, go for a nice breakfast, and then go out exploring. Make this a fun and relaxing day where you let yourself be surprised by what you find.
Alert ➳ There are regular drug checks on the roads in and around Pai. Don’t be alarmed if the police ask to check your stuff. Keep in mind to always take an international driving license with you if you are going for a drive during this Mae Hong Son Loop itinerary.
Mae Hong Son Loop, the 6th Day: Pai Canyon & Night Market
After 4 days on your motorbike, it is important to relax and revive a bit from your endeavors. That’s the reason why we recommend a second day of exploring Pai. There is plenty to do in Pai that doesn’t take too much energy. All over you can find nice restaurants and bars where you can drink and enjoy the atmosphere. Hang out at a pool or go out and explore the surroundings. Take it easy and enjoy the lovely and hippy vibe in the village.
Pro Tip ➳ Also check out the Full 3-Week Guide to Thailand
However, on your day of chilling, there is one sight you cannot miss in Pai, Pai canyon. It is an impressive canyon located just outside the village of Pai. This canyon stands out against the other landscape characteristics, making these views truly unique and a “must-see.” Save this beautiful spot to watch the sunset and see how the pink glow traces the canyon’s outlines. It will be a bit busy, but there is room enough for everyone to enjoy the sunset view. Although be careful when you walk there, the canyon’s ridges are very steep, and the sand can be slippery.
Night Market On Walking Street
After a great day of chilling around Pai, walk through the main street, and enjoy the night market. Especially in the evening, the village of Pai turns into a fun place to have a drink, try out street food, and meet new friends. The entire main street is filled with food stands that sell all kinds of delicious dishes at a cheap price. Many residents cook their own specialties. Plus, there are many bars where you can see live music and play games! Because Pai is very popular and loved by backpackers, you can easily make friends and talk to other travelers.
Check out this mini vlog from our trip to Pai ↡