The Mae Hong Son Loop has become a well-known travel route around Northern Thailand, using Chiang Mai as its base. It is an especially popular motorbike route. Please note: prior motorbike experience is required/heavily encouraged to tackle these roads successfully. Since we do not have any and although we were tempted to jump on a bike, we opted for the much more boring car. It could have been a blessing in disguise, though, because as we set out on our road trip on December 18th we were met with really chilly weather that would have made life on a motorbike, well,cold. Our car wasn’t without its issues, though, with a lot of smoke coming out of the engine. It forced us to take many scenic breaks; the picture below about sums it up.
Temps for us in late December have been warm (70s/80s) during the day but very cold (40s) at night. I also want to note that we’re going clockwise around the route and taking the possibly lesser traveled route of Mae Chaem and Khun Yuam as opposed to Mae Sariang. We will also be stopping over in Soppong instead of going straight from Mae Hong Son to Pai. For our Africa road trip I posted the hours of driving but considering how close together all these places are it really doesn’t matter. We also stopped a lot en route which would make it hard to estimate. Instead, I’m citing the road conditions as this has a more profound impact on time to destination. In addition to using the city maps to go app (just download the whole Mae Hong Son Province map), we also bought the Mae Hong Son road map (looks like this) in a bookstore in Chiang Mai before departing. This map is nice because it marks off some of the bigger places worth seeing such as waterfalls, the sunflower fields, etc. It’s helpful to have as a reference. It also offers detailed maps of all the big towns along the route to help you get your bearings. Good luck! And watch those curves.