We flew into Chiang Mai after a couple of days sightseeing and awaited my motorbike gear laden suitcase. Confiscated by Chinese aviation authority for containing lithium batteries! We needed 2 dirt bikes so we headed to a company called Pop Rental.
Ferdie chose the new hotly anticipated Honda CRF250 Rally (not yet out in the UK) and me the standard CRF250L.
This bike seemed similar in size and power to my Suzuki DRZ400, and perfect for exploring northern Thailand. Ferdie discovered the state of the rental companies helmets, no padding and full of sweat, so we picked up a new adventure helmet for him after relaxing in the hustle and bustle of the old city’s temples.
Everywhere you went not just the late Kings Palaces, pictures of his majesty adorned the streets.
Day 1 of our Moto adventure and we headed out of the humdrum and into the rural northern hill tribes of the Mae Hong Son loop, blazing through the twisty mountains. We came upon an amazing waterfall just off the main highway.
We parked and locked the bikes and went and investigated. This was the first day of the first trip and we were anxious but excited at what lay ahead. Later, after a fast highway ride to Pai for lunch and beer we rode down a track to stay at Cave Lodge, just in time to explore the caves at dusk.
The next morning we awoke to the sound of the jungle. After a swift breakfast we set off in search of Pai and our first trail.
20 km later the wide dirt road turned to jungle.
We got lost and had to be directed by a local dear hunter with a long gun taller than he was.
Culminating in in some serious ‘hold on tight and hope’ rough downhill paths, only for fern to cross a footbridge and fall through.
More directions from an army base, few crashes later we found our way up to the downed helicopter and on to Pai, running on fumes.
We headed to the namesake of the loop, Mae Hong Son, the road of 1862 bends.
Fern found a roadside chop shop and fixed the clutch and a few issues with her bike.
We stopped for lunch and explored a monks retreat and were surrounded by people wearing white while silently walking slowly to an open air temple to sit and pray.
We got in to Mae Hong Son and found an air con coffee and ice cream bar so we could use there WiFi to look on booking.com for rooms close by. We quickly found a guest house and paid 400 baht for a room.
We dined on foot around a lakeside market at dusk, perusing the mystery meat on offer . On the walk back to our rooms we would always collect water, ice cream, beer etc from the local the 7/11 shop. The market turned out expensive compared to the roadside shacks offering lunch for as little as a pound.
On to Mae Sariang after fruit, toast and coffee breakfast.
We left the main road passing ‘Fern Resort’ after a while and headed into the hills to find more trails.
A lovely dirt fire road with talcum powder like dust on the corners.. ever climbing upwards, very slippy. This was the start of the Elephant trail.
After about 100 km we broke off the GPS trail mapped route to find the main highway again.
We were travelling truly off any map we had seen. Choosing to boldly follow a loaded pickup truck that surely must be heading for the market.
Back on the main road we found a quaint temple being worked on, with a long raised foot bridge over some crops, to tourist shops. However we needed to get moving, we had a guy to catch.
That night we met with an Internet friend Colin aka ‘captain slash’, who we found on the ride Asia forum. He was due to guide us around his local patch. He suggested his hotel, 300 Baht for a room, it suited us, he could wake us in the morning.
As promised Colin took us to some amazing villages and mountain climbs.
One village had some sort of wedding on and all the villagers were walking back and forth with bowls of food.
We crossed some amazing and some scary log bridges, given Ferns.. previous collapse.
Colin took some photos which turned out to be quite useful as we hadn’t got any of us riding together.
After a packed lunch at the roadside we set off on some more tracks and eventually the twisty Mae Hong Son loop backwards to Mae Sariang, giving us a taste of what was to come tomorrow .
After a final wave goodbye from Colin we headed back, destination Chiang Mai, to hand the bikes over. We ran flat out on sections that followed the sweeping curves of the river.
Past the town of ‘Hot’, stopping at our usual roadside huts for lunch.
We were doing 3.3 liters per 100km. Often able to reach 130kmph on the straights. While following a airport taxi van at this speed it suddenly slowed. A speed trap. Beware police!. We had made it back to Pops rental in Chiang Mai which had worked out about £19 per bike per day.
Anyway. We had a train to catch, overnight to Bangkok.
On this holiday we spend the next week exploring islands using a little moped to get around.
Then back to Bangkok for a spot of shopping in the back streets, Chatuchak Market.
A bit more tourist stuff and we were on a fight home about £800 each lighter.
This loop can be done without all the off road and would be great on a big bike. But we were there after adventures on the road less travelled, old links, hill tribe trails & unknown side excursions.
When travelling we choose to travel light, with backpacks, a few clothes and essentials. You have got to be nimble, hence the XR 250’s as you never know what’s round that next dirt corner, it could be you!
Total distance covered 965km. 600km on road and 365km off road.
📆 14 days
✈️ Flights £380 return London – Chiang Mai / Bangkok – London, both via China.
🏍️ Bike hire £120 – 250cc honda (6 days) (passport as deposit)
🛒 £20 per day per person expenses
📄 £30 travel insurance
💸 Total £800 approx with a week Island hopping and shopping in Bangkok.
Thinking about travelling to Thailand?