My husband and I will be taking about 9 days to do the Mae Hong Song Loop in mid-February, staying for 2-3 nights in Chiang Mai , Pai, Soppong, Mae Hong Song. We'd love some transport recommendations. My husband doesn't have a driver's license (we live in NY) so we can't each rent a motorbike. We could rent a car that I drive, take the public bus between towns, take the mini-bus, ride on the back of other's bikes(?) or some combo of these options. How tough is the driving on the windy road? If we take the public bus, how do we get from the bus stop to our specific lodging? Any other thought on this are greatly appreciated! If we're renting a car or doing the minibus, does anyone have any links or emails to book? Can we wait to book until we arrive in Chiang Mai (start of our trip)?
#1 garnetbk has been a member since 8/1/2012. Posts: 5
You're doing a great thing in taking 9 days to do this loop. You could easily do 3 weeks and still barely scratch the surface, but most people take half the time you do.
About the driver's license, that's laughable because the likelihood that you'll be stopped is extremely slim to none on this route. Matter of fact, as I approach police checkpoints, I raise my visor so they can see I'm a foreigner and they wave me through. I've done this well above 200 times, never stopped once. The only times I've got tickets were when I didn't have a helmet on riding around Chiang Mai and they had set up stings. The no license ticket tacked on was just a bonus for them.
To rent a motorbike, you might have to surrender your passport to the rental shop, or a large deposit of 4,000 baht or more may suffice depending on the shop. They could care less if you have a license.
If you chose to double up on a scooter, you'd be just fine doing this loop. There would be some spots where you'd drop down to 40 kph going up hills (depending on your total weight including gear), so maybe you'd opt for a slightly larger bike, say 150 or 250 cc if you're worried about that. Having your own transport, be it bike or car, gives you the freedom that you can't have using public transport. We always enjoy being on our own schedule and finding our own way, or having the option to stop off here and there and explore what's just around the bend. The road can be windy, but with basic precautions most bike trips go off without a hitch. Slow way down coming into the curves, and always keep in mind just around the corner out of view may be a herd of cattle, or a stopped or slowed vehicle.
For public transport, there are buses, minibuses, and minivans going constantly around this loop. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, but at least they're plentiful and cheap. We took government buses all the way around the loop for less than 300 baht total. If you do this, you'd have to ring your guesthouse and ask them the best way to get there. Some places will send a truck, but most will direct you to a motorbike or pickup taxi. In Mae Hong Son and Pai , your accommodation could very well be within walking distance.
One last bit of advice for you. I noticed you didn't plan to stop off in Mae Sariang. Take a second look, that's my favorite city on the loop. Very beautiful, unique cultural mix, and temples unlike any you'll see outside of this region. I prefer this by a long shot to Pai or Mae Hong Son city. Soppong is also a good place to stop, don't miss Cave Lodge! If you have any more questions, ask away. I've done this loop several times and can't wait to do it again when I have 2 weeks vacation to do it properly!
#2 whardy has been a member since 14/11/2011. Posts: 66