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Thailand forum

Mae Song Loop - Beginner

Posted by drn11 on 26/10/2013 at 00:06

Hi all,

My gf and I and really interested in doing the Mae Son Loop. We plan to go to Thailand in Feb 2014 and here is my rough itinerary:

Day 1: Chiang Mai
Day 2: Mae Sariang
Day 3: Mae Hong Son
Day 4: Pai
Day 5: Chiang Mai

Now neither of us have ridden a bike or scooter before! I think as beginners if we went for a two-wheeled solution we'd be going for a scooter.

I wanted to see what peoples recommendation would be. Car or Scooter, for two beginners for the Mae Son Loop! Your help, input and comments are much appreciated!!

#1 drn11 has been a member since 25/10/2013. Posts: 1

Posted by busylizzy on 26/10/2013 at 03:03

I would try to get some practice in before you leave home. In NZ, we have a 'Basic Skills Handling course' that anyone who wishes to get the motorbike licence has to do before getting a provisional licence. It was a half day course, and I learned some good basic bike handling tips. If you can find something similar, it's worthwhile.

Then try to find someone near home where you can hire a scooter for a few hours and get some practice in - somewhere with very little traffic, but where you will know the road rules (and hopefully drivers will be courteous). This will help get your confidence up. And if you have an accident, well, better to be at home!

I actually first hired a scooter on Lembongan and Penida island (Indonesia) where there was very little motorised traffic. I could go at my own pace and not have to worry about speeding trucks racing by. I did the handling skills course before my next trip to Laos, where I hired a bike for a week or so.

Also - be sure to understand what your travel insurance will and will not cover. As newbies, your chances of an accident are high. In Thailand, even higher. If the worst happens, will they cover you for medical treatment, repatriation home, and damage to the bike? (Likewise, what will the cover for a car accident if you hire a car instead?)

I have hired a car to travel around Thailand, as well, and there are definite benefits. Personal safety, obviously - but also it's somewhere safe to stash your gear when you want to explore. It's more comfortable than sitting on a bike for hours, especially if it's raining. But on the other hand, it's more expensive. And face it, not as adventurous.

Not trying to discourage you from hiring a bike - indeed, I'd like to do the loop one day by bike. But just do your research, and get as much practice in beforehand.

#2 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,153
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Posted by amnicoll on 26/10/2013 at 05:49

madness!

If you value your life get a car or use the bus

If you are stupid enough to hire the bike/scooter make sure your insurance will cover you

#3 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 757
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Posted by theloner on 26/10/2013 at 18:48

I could not agree more with the above statement. it just shows how dumb some tourists can be. Watched two the other day on bicycles, not riding behind each other. Guess they decided the entire road was theirs on a Thai holiday while hundreds of cars drove around them. One drunk in a pickup missed them by less than a foot. Warning! i have watched two foreigners die on Koh Samui on two different trips. Have seen numerous serious accidents all over Thailand with tourists on motor bikes and bicycles. If you value your life DO NOT even think about it. Listen to amncoli if not me. One of the numerous reasons the Thai government is now going to raise the fees for foreigners, too many accidents and too many drunks on the road.

#4 theloner has been a member since 7/10/2013. Posts: 116

Posted by somtam2000 on 26/10/2013 at 19:47 admin

It's a great trip -- by motorbike or car (I've done it both ways).

Very solid advice by busylizzy -- obviously learning to ride and getting a motorbike license beforehand is the most informed approach. Travel insurance will not cover you if you are not riding legally, and in Thailand that means having either a motorbike licence from your home country that is recognised in Thailand (for eg you can legally ride/drive in Thailand on an Australian license) or an international license endorsed for riding. If you don't have this you can forget about travel insurance cover.

If that's all too complicated or impractical, hire a car. In the scheme of things they're quite affordable and if you rustle up a couple of other travellers from a guesthouse in Chiang Mai they'd be even more affordable. Plus the other benefits of car travel as per busylizzy up top.

Moving on from safety/practicalities, while this is possible to do in five days, I'd lean towards allowing for 8-10 days. Why?

a) You've not mentioned Soppong which is definitely worth an overnight stay
b) Pai, while not to everyone's liking, others love it and is popular for a reason -- I'd give it a second night, if for no other reason than to explore the surrounds.
c) While a bit of a diversion, Chiang Dao is well worth at least an overnight stay on the last bit back to Chiang Mai.
d) Here's a few of the highlights.

Last thoughts, keep some flexibility -- the first time I did this was by motorbike (I was unlicensed and had learned in Phuket a month previous - don't tell Mum) and when we left Chiang Mai planning to do the exact loop you describe, but in the opposite direction, we ended up doing almost 4,000 kilometres over around 3 weeks -- it remains one of the best trips I have ever done in Thailand.

So bike or car (or bus) Do IT! :-)

#5 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,707
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 27/10/2013 at 19:52

Scooters are best for short trips and on the flat. They don't hold much fuel and aren't the safest things around. Also luggage is a problem.

Hire the car - North Wheels

http://www.northwheels.com/

#6 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 27/10/2013 at 19:57

"a) You've not mentioned Soppong which is definitely worth an overnight stay
b) Pai, while not to everyone's liking, others love it and is popular for a reason -- I'd give it a second night, if for no other reason than to explore the surrounds.
c) While a bit of a diversion, Chiang Dao is well worth at least an overnight stay on the last bit back to Chiang Mai.
d) Here's a few of the highlights."

Chiang Dao cave is good as is the Elephant camp and there's also a cobra show nearby. You can do these things without staying overnight.

Drive CM - Chiang Dao for these activities then drive onto Pai. 1 night pai then drive to Soppong for Tham Lot (cave) - it's massive. Then drive onto Mae Hong Son for 2 nights. Enjoy the area and then drive to Mae Sariang 1 night and then onto Doi Inthanon 1 night and back to CM.

Minimum of 5 nights.

7 would be better if you want to relax more at the destinations.

#7 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
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