There is only one place for me. The Mae Hong Son 1864 Curves motorbike ride
Ok, let’s get this right the 1864 curves are from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son.
However if you ride the complete loop (as we did) there are over 3700 curves, throw in a trip to Rak Thai, a little Chinese village high up in the mountains and now your over 4000, and altitudes of 1600m above see level.
In motorbike heaven yet? Trust me if you ride a motorcycle this is your right of passage. This is the ride that you can tell your grandkids about. The mountains and scenery, the corners, the switch backs and oh…..
Did I mention the corners?
There are several ways to do the loop, the way we did it was
Chiang Mai – Mae Sariang – Mae Hong Son – Pai -Chiang Mai.
We wanted to travel this way so we could get a feel for the bike we hired before hitting the real twisty bits and to be honest the road from Mae Sariang to Mae Hong Son is awesome. There certainly is less traffic along this section and with two up on the bike we still had moments where we just opened up the throttle and let the bike fly….(responsibly of course).
When you get to Mae Hong Son, you got to stop by and buy a hand designed T-Shirt from my good friend Brian. You’ll find his shop in the walking street that connects the lake to the main road. This is the ONLY place you can get his T-Shirts. He is an artist and designs all his t-shirts.
Once you get one contact us with the pic and we’ll post it on this page…. Sort of bragging rights 🙂
Take the 108 highway from Chiang Mai to the south through Hot (yes it’s a place not a spelling mistake) which is all on flat lands and open highways, there are a couple of small towns along the way but once you reach Hot turn left at the roundabout in town and about 5km down the road you’ll start to climb into the mountains. It’s a good road and the potholes are few. Generally the whole Mae Hong Son Loop roads are of a good quality surprisingly.
If you get to the town of Hot and are looking a quick Pad Thai to fill you before heading over the mountains we found a street restaurant that served up the best Pad Thai we found on our entire trip to Thailand. As you turn right at the roundabout in town travel about 200m from the corner and it’s on the left directly opposite two large radio towers (you can’t miss them).
First stop for the night if your taking it slow would be Mae Sariang. If you’re looking for a place to stay check out Black Ant Resort. Their address is 113/1 Moo 12, Laengpanich Rd., T. Bankad, A. Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son, Ban Lum, MH, Thailand.
Blank Ant Resort has an awesome little coffee place across the road and overlooking the river. The coffee looks an odd orange colour as they used condensed milk but the taste was sensational. The furniture was all hand made and I would have loved to bring some of it back for our own place.
The road form Mae Sariang to Mae Hong Son is probably the best part of the road, sure it’s not as twisty but there is less traffic and you get to really appreciate the bike and the surroundings.
Mae Hong Son is a beautiful place and if you’ve come as far north to Chaing Mai and don’t come here you’re missing the magic of the mountains of Thailand. I’ve written a separate blog on Mae Hong Son for those who are interested in this truly wonderful place.
After only two wonderful days exploring Mae Hong Son we left this this hidden gem and headed to the popular tourist town of Pai. We had a couple of deviations along the journey as we wanted to check out a Chinese Village of Ban Rak Thai.
The road that leads to the village passes the Pha Su Waterfall and makes a great stop be for the assaulting climb up the many switch backs etched into the mountain side that take you up 1800m above sea level to one of the highest points on the trip.
Ban Rak Thai (literally “the Thai-loving village”), also known as Mae Aw in many guide books and some maps, is a city near Mae Hong Son (44 km). It was settled by former Kuomintang (KMT) (Nationalist) fighters from Yunnan province, China, after the Communist takeover of China in 1949. The population is about 1,000, mainly Chinese-born or Thai-born Chinese. Many signs are in Chinese, and much of the population speaks a heavily accented version of Mandarin Chinese. If you speak Chinese, try it out, especially on some of the elderly people. They will be happy to speak with you, and can share some rather interesting stories of their lives pre- and post- exile, as well as about the drug trade that used to dominate the economy here.
The road from Mae Hong Son to Pai is a little more demanding on the rider but if you’re not rushed the journey is enjoyable as you traverse from valley floors up and over mountain ranges to Pai.
We arrived here on the 29th of December and planned to leave on the 31st the town was booked solid for New Years Celebrations and tents where on every field and lined the river banks.
Departing Pai on New Years Eve was a get up early yo beat the traffic, however it seemed that everyone else had the same idea and the road out of town was packed at 8am! with people cars and low mist from the mountains the ride was demanding. I’d really like to try this section again one day.
Here’s a little of our trip.