Mike had heard about the Hong Son loop from a friend, and decided that he wanted to do it. So we rented a 125 scooter in Chiang Mai and set aside 6 days to explore this northern part of Thailand. Our go at the loop consisted of 6 days, 600 km, 4 towns and 1864 turns.
We started the loop, leaving Chiang Mai, by going a bit out of our way and up to Chiang Dao. This little village is located at the bottom of a beautiful mountain. It felt really nice to get out to the countryside – everything was so quiet, – except for a lot of crowing roosters – and the air felt really fresh after being in the city for so long. We stayed on a little farm/micro brewery.
We got there quite late in the evening and decided to head to the local tourist attraction before it closed. One of the things the town is known for is a network of 12 km of caves, some of whom contain shrines. We got a local guide to take the two of us around with a gas lamp. It was completely dark, and the caves just go on and on forever. We could have gotten lost so easily, and it would have been impossible to find your way out!
The village consisted of only two roads, one of which was filled up with foodstalls for the evening marked. We happily walked up and down, trying a little bit of everything.
The next morning, after being woken continously by crowing hens, we visited a local temple in the mountain side before setting off.
There was quite a lot of stairs to walk up, and the road had loads of mindfulness quotes on signs along the way. It was really peaceful and beautiful, almost no-one else was around. We both agree that Chiang Dao is one of the favourite places we have visited so far.
We got on the road to Pai, only stopping because Mike insisted on visiting the obligatory waterfall along the way.
Everything was going really well, we had to go over the top of a really high mountain, the view was amazing and the road full of turns. Mike suddenly informs me that we’re almost out of petrol. We hadn’t driven past a petrol station in a long time. Luckily we were going downhill by then, or we wouldn’t have made it. After 30 min, at the foot of the mountain, we finally found petrol.
Pai is lovely, we stayed for two nights and crammed in as much as we could. So much nice food! The next morning we watched the sunrise over the Chinese village.
It was really really cold, and very very early, but pretty nice. Then we visited the white Buddha, the big tree, the memorial bridge and another waterfall.
We were going to watch the sunset at the canyon with some guys from the hostel, but we missed it. We stayed for a while and watched the stars instead. The canyon is really cool! We really enjoyed Pai and Mike especially wished we could have stayed longer.
Mae Hong Son
Next stop was Mae Hong Son. Again we drove over some beautiful mountains with really nice views. Outside town we stopped at the national park to visit the fish cave, Than Pla. The fish, in the carp family, are considered holy. We fed the fish with nuts and cabbage. They are really huge, and there’s loads of them!
Then we watched the sunset at Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, the most famous pagoda, before we had dinner at the night market.
Mae Chem & Doi Inthanon
This little village is the last stop before driving over Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain, and back to Chiang Mai. We didn’t realise we were there at first, the village is that small and average. We stayed in a nice homestay, and it was good to relax a little before the last day.
The last day we got up early and drove up the mountain. We were wearing all the clothes we had with us, and the higher we got the colder it got. At the top there are two beautiful pagodas built for the king and queen’s 60th birthdays and some nice gardens. The view was nice, but quite a lot of it was covered in clouds. The rest of the drive back was uneventful, and we caught our night train back to Bangkok.