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Mae Hong Son Loop

Initial Journey
The Mae Hong Son Loop is a popular road through Mae Hong Son Province.
Travellers intending to get out of Chiang Mai and venture into the wilderness of Northern Thailand, the Mae Hong Son Loop is the perfect route. The loop covers a distance of about 600 km and requires at least four days to cover, starting from Chiang Mai, passing through the Mae Hong Son province and ending back at Chiang Mai.

 
 
 
 
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You can travel on the Mae Hong Son Loop either heading south in a clockwise direction or north in an anti-clockwise direction. As with anywhere in Thailand, sunscreen and mosquito repellent are highly recommended. If you're planning to do the loop during the winter months (November to February) bring warm clothing (light jacket, sweater and long trousers) as temperatures can drop at night. Those suffering from car sickness, should take motion sickness tablets before the start of each trip.  

Starting from Chiang Mai and assuming a clockwise direction, Highways 108 and 1009 will take you to the Thailand's highest mountain named Doi Inthanon, which is also a national park. A winding road leads to the peak of Doi Inthanon at 2,500 metres above sea level. There are some remarkable waterfalls along this route including Mae Ya and Wachiratharn waterfall. You will also pass by plenty of hill tribe market stands along the roadside selling locally made products.

Doi Inthanon National Park by Tevaprapas Makklay

Just before the summit of Doi Inthanon, there is a sightseeing point with two impressive royal chedis standing majestically on the side of the mountain. On a clear day, this spot offers a good view of the valley below. However most of the time, visibility is masked by the clouds due to the high altitude. Standing amongst this veil of clouds at the highest point in Thailand makes you feel quite ethereal as if you are on top of the world.

Return to the base of Doi Inthanon and head to Mae Chaem, a town home to a mix of hill tribes including Lisu, Hmong and Lawa. From here you can either head to Mae Hong Son (via Khun Yuam on the 1088 road) or take the off-road route to Mae Sariang. The quaint town of Mae Sariang retains much of its traditional charm and character but often overlooked by tourists. Some say the trekking routes here are the most unspoilt in Northern Thailand and popular with travelers seeking a less commercialised trek. Surrounding the town there are many sights to see and day trips including Mae Sam Laep (Burmese style village on the banks of the Salawin River where a long tail boat can be hired), the Salawin National Park and Mae Ngao National Park.
Mae Sariang by Ken Marshall
 
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