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Chiang Dao/Mae Hong Son loop

  • amz155

    Joined Travelfish
    30th August, 2006
    Posts: 111

    Been reading up on the MHS loop from Chiang Mai, and Chiang Dao. But Chiang Dao isn't really mentioned as a stop over along the MHS loop.

    Starting in Chiang Mai, can we go via Chiang Dao (stop over for 1 day) and then continue directly to Mae Hong Son?

    We have only 8 days so I'm now thinking 3 days Chiang Mai, 1 day Chiang Dao, 3 days Mae Hong Son, plus one day's worth travel time.

    Would this work starting and ending in Chiang Mai?

    Too rushed?

    I know there are other good stop along the way of the MHS loop but with 8 days, and never having been to CM before I think I"d better stick to just CM, CD and MHS.

    DO I even have enough time to make it up to MHS for a few days without feeling rushed?

    So many places, so little time!

    #1 Posted: 31/12/2008 - 21:46

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  • amz155

    Joined Travelfish
    30th August, 2006
    Posts: 111

    Hmmmm....maybe Soppong would be a better choice for stopover between CM and MHS. Better caves in Soppong ?

    Would THIS work:

    Chiang Mai
    Soppong
    Mae Hong Son
    back to Chiang Mai (fly?)

    How long is the ride between CM- Soppong ? Soppong -MHS?

    #2 Posted: 31/12/2008 - 22:08

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United States
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    Hi amz,

    Like you said, so many places, so little time. Eight days will go quickly, and you won't feel like you have enough time in any one place, but it will still be fun.

    When are you going?

    If you do the CM-MHS loop with a stopover along the way, then I'd go by land from CM to MHS and definitely fly back, both to save time and for the wonderful views from the air. That will help make the most of the time too. You could fly both ways of course, but then you are missing out on the fun of the land journey and the small towns along the way.

    Another option, if you wanted to spend less time travelling, is to headquarter in Chiang Mai and make a 2-day side trip to Chiang Dao. But given the time you have available, I think my preference would be the loop with a return flight. Hope that helps. Cheers.

    #3 Posted: 1/1/2009 - 00:02

  • amz155

    Joined Travelfish
    30th August, 2006
    Posts: 111

    We are going late feb, early march if that helps.

    Yes flying back from MHS to CM would be an option.

    What would you advise as a stopover location, Soppong or Chiang Dao? Where would we have more of an option of things to do? Yes I know we'd have limited time to actually DO them, but more options is still good :)

    #4 Posted: 1/1/2009 - 00:49

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    I don't think Chiang Dao is really on the road from CM to MHS, so you'd be better off with stopovers in Soppong or Pai on your trip to MHS. Last time I was in CM there were also mini vans from CM to Pai and beyond in addition to the regular government buses.

    I'd definitely plan to fly back to CM from MHS to save time.

    I think the 8 days will be enough time, although you'll be moving around quite a bit. I might do something like 2 days in CM, 2 days on the road to get to MHS, 2 days in MHS, then 2 more in CM in a different part of town.

    Also, I saw your other post and what Thaiman was saying is that you pay extra for a sleeper seat on the overnight train. If you can afford it, I'd recommend getting a 1st class compartment for that train ride. Better comfort and security.

    If you are interested, there is an article in the features section on How to Catch a Train in Thailand that may have a few useful tips for you.

    Happy New Year

    #5 Posted: 1/1/2009 - 11:05

  • somtam2000

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    Just a quick not, Sopong is perhaps the better option than CD for a stopover as CD is further north from the turnoff to MHS.

    #6 Posted: 1/1/2009 - 14:15

  • amz155

    Joined Travelfish
    30th August, 2006
    Posts: 111

    Am now considering eliminating Chiang Dao altogether.

    4 nights Chiang Mai
    fly up to MHS
    2 nights Soppong
    2 nights MHS
    fly back to CM....then fly on to BKK-Krabi

    I'm still afraid that 8 days is too little time for this plan. Also, I haven't looked into how much the flights cost but if they are not in the budget, I may have to forego the whole plan. I t would really be a shame to waste so much time on overland travel.

    As for the train...I've read over seat61 but will also check your info here. A 1st class compartment is not in the budget. The 2nd class sleeper is already $30 bucks-ish Canadian. Have to save $ in the budget for flights (CM-MHS, CM-Krabi).

    Cheers.

    #7 Posted: 2/1/2009 - 04:20

  • brucemoon

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    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    amz

    2 things appear absent:

    1/.

    Why do you want to go to MHS?

    This will determine time available.

    2/.

    How are you travelling?

    That is, by car, public tpt, or other.

    There are so many options to stopover, just need to know time/tpt.

    cheers

    #8 Posted: 2/1/2009 - 16:05

  • travelrock

    Joined Travelfish
    19th April, 2008
    Posts: 209
    Total reviews: 18

    chiang dao is 45mins to 1hr past the turnoff the pai. not worth a stopover imo

    i would just fly to mhs and visit the tham lod cave near soppong from there.

    otherwise you spend too much time on the road and it's not worth it

    #9 Posted: 6/1/2009 - 22:34

  • amz155

    Joined Travelfish
    30th August, 2006
    Posts: 111

    In the Soppong and Mae Hong Son areas, we are interested in any of: trekking, rafting, caves. Figure this would be a better location to try these activities than CM. In CM we will try to see local wats, possibly visit the Elephant Nature Camp, try a cooking class and even look into a day's worth of hiking/moutain biking.

    With about 9 days in total to spend in these areas combined, the only way I see it possible without being rushed is to fly CM-MHS.

    If we don't opt to fly then I'm afraid we'd have to cut out going up to MHS/ Soppong altogether. BUT, this would mean 9 days in CM, which I think might be too much. Also, we would have to forego trying a trek for the first time, cause I've not read favourable things about trekking from CM and would rather do it from MHS.

    We could, I suppose, consider places outside of CM that are quicker to get to overland than MHS....but I'm not really interested in going to Pai.

    So the dilemma of how to spend 9 days still stands.....I guess what it really comes down to is if I'm willing to buy the flight!

    #10 Posted: 7/1/2009 - 00:03

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  • brucemoon

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    amz

    Your first post began with "Been reading up on the MHS loop from Chiang Mai". From the following posts, clearly you haven't!!!

    I (earlier) asked why you wanted to go to MHS, and what mode of transport you had at your disposal. You didn't reply.

    Now you write "In the Soppong and Mae Hong Son areas, we are interested in any of: trekking, rafting, caves. Figure this would be a better location to try these activities than CM".

    I suggest you would be VERY VERY wise to go and get a copy of Lonely Planet THAILAND, 11th Ed'n. That way you will inform yourself of the attributes in and around the region.

    For your own interest, and others contributing here, a flight between CM - MHS takes 2 -3 hours [taking into account getting to/from airport, arriving at required time for flight, and flight]. A trip by public bus to MHS takes 5 hours. While its somewhat longer by bus, the scenery in along the route is superb, the potential engagement with locals always fascinating, and the monetary cost cheaper.

    I note you mention an interest in trekking. Every possible angle of trekking is catered for in the region. As LP notes "The area around MHS towards Soppong is also used by tours from CM, which means that ...its possible to see other groups" on your trek. This will be the case at Soppong , Pai , in fact anywhere in the region.

    You also note a desire to engage with elephants. The Elephant Nature Camp at CM is for fat western tourists with bulging wallets: bus in - look see - bus out.

    If you really want an elephant 'experience', there is only one place: Pai . There, Thom's has built a good reputation, and those that take the 'swim' option rave for years. Thom's has several worthwhile competitors.

    You say you're not interested in going to Pai . But, in your arrogance, you don't explain why. If you travel overland, you will travel through Pai . Pai has long been popular with westerners, for good reason. The town sits in a verdant valley, with many, many, attractions. Trekking, rafting, elephant swimming, hot springs soaking.... The list goes on.

    To be frank, I'd suggest you take the bus to Pai (about 2 1/2 hours) and do the elephant swim, trekking, etc. And, if you feel the need, go on to MHS for an altogether different experience. From there, you can fly back to MC.

    The strongest message I can give you is take off your blinkers, throw away your prejudices, and thus be ready to experience a cultural awakening.

    cheers

    #11 Posted: 7/1/2009 - 04:04

  • amz155

    Joined Travelfish
    30th August, 2006
    Posts: 111

    bruce,

    yes, i did say i was reading up on the area, but nowhere did i say I was an expert.

    sorry to hurt your feelings that i did not reply, in detail, via personal note, to your post. obvisously i have the same methods of transport at my disposal as anyone else in the region. which method i ultimately choose to use is a different point.

    thanks but no thanks, on the LP suggestion. i could get more current, detailed, and helpful info bu using this and other forums.

    as for trekking, from what I've read on various forums, trip reports and blogs, the trekking seems to be more rewarding when done from farther out than CM i.e. in MHS or Soppong. i am not specifically, though, looking for a trekking option where i will not see other groups.

    why is it arrogant that i not mention why i don't want to go to pai? with only 9 days, my interests lie in CM and MHS. again, from the reading i've done via site liek this one, forums, trip reports, etc., I have decided to give Pai a miss this time.

    prejudiced? what on earth are you talking about?

    #12 Posted: 7/1/2009 - 04:27

  • travelrock

    Joined Travelfish
    19th April, 2008
    Posts: 209
    Total reviews: 18

    Pai is very ordinary and the scenary isn't that good at all. The town is full of backpackers.

    The best treks are out of MHS and flying is much better than a slow painful overcrowded bus. Buses in thailand are usually not that comfortable and a bad way to travel.

    " But, in your arrogance," You are the arrogant one and your comments on Pai are way off the mark. Being popular doesn't make a place good otherwise Starbucks and McDonalds would be considered good. Pai is popular because lots of backpackers like to hang out with other backpackers. You see it in every country where these "individuals" all hang together like sheep.

    "The strongest message I can give you is take off your blinkers, throw away your prejudices, and thus be ready to experience a cultural awakening."

    That's funny, a cultural awakening amongst a thousand backpackers in Pai . You really have got the blinkers on.

    #13 Posted: 8/1/2009 - 09:52

  • travelrock

    Joined Travelfish
    19th April, 2008
    Posts: 209
    Total reviews: 18

    If you want a Thai experience trekking away from the farangs go to Nan. Few tourists got there and they have great treks. Expensive to fly there though or you could hire a car and drive. Driving in thailand is actually safer than buses if you are a good driver.

    #14 Posted: 8/1/2009 - 09:55

  • travelrock

    Joined Travelfish
    19th April, 2008
    Posts: 209
    Total reviews: 18

    Another option is Loei. You can fly to Udon.

    #15 Posted: 8/1/2009 - 09:56

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