Before making our way to Mae Chaem, we detoured to Doi Inthanon to seek out the highest point in Thailand. After paying 200baht each, 30baht for the car and struggling up to the top with our smoking engine we finally made it!
Sidenote: On the way up the mountain, soon after you stop to pay for entrance, there is a left hand turn that will take you to some hot springs. This also happens to be the road to Mae Chaem. Go to Doi Inthanon first and then to the hot springs (if you were planning on going there too) so you don’t have to backtrack.
Mae Chaem is a small town and apart from finding much needed coolant at a roadside repair shop, there wasn’t much else to see. We continued to our waiting bungalow at Hot Coffee which is a few kilometers north of Mae Chaem. We chose this place based off a fellow traveler’s recommendation. It’s a lovely little stop off on the side of the road. Little bungalows right on the river, good food (kitchen open ‘til about 8), and all the profits from the shop goes toward the orphanage that is located behind its grounds. The only problem with our stay was that it was cold (probably 45 degrees) and there was no heat. Bring blankets, bring layers, bring feety pajamas. Also, the bungalows are clean and very nice but are bare minimum. After dark, there is not much in the way of entertainment. So bring a good book and a headlamp. Or bring blankets and have a few beers on your balcony complete with two chairs and a table. Or, if you’re lucky, you can hear the little kids in the orphanage singing. When we were there they sang us to sleep with Christmas carols.
It’s worth noting that we booked a bungalow. There are rooms inside the main house that would probably be warmer in this weather but we didn’t realize it was going to be so cold at night. There is a fan in the bungalow for warm weather but no heater.
Hot Coffee also offers some rafting options if you’re feeling like a little adventure after a restful night’s sleep. We were considering going on an hour raft ride (self guided/500baht) but it was just too cold. Would have definitely done it if the weather cooperated.
Road conditions: fair to Mae Chaem, poor after Mae Chaem