Chiang Mai - Pai - Mae Hong Son


Mar 1, 2010
Hi, first post on this site so thought I'd give a trip report on our first ever riding trip to Thailand (25-29 Jan 2010).

Been to Thailand before but it was an article featuring David in Bike magazine which made me think this was something I had to do. Luckily the wife is happy on the back and was up for it (we didn't tell her Mum though - riding, in Thailand = heart attack!).

Got into Chiang Mai on the Saturday and sorted the bike the next day. Went to Tony's Big Bikes, and got a Phantom. Thought that i would want something bigger but, as the trip wasn't about covering big distance, took a punt and enjoyed the mini-cruiser experience. Comfy for the missus and, although a bit more go would have been nice at times, quick enough 90% of the time. I am used to a 'little' more ground clearance though so the first time the pegs touched down was a bit of a shock!

Did a little of the Samoeng loop to get used to the bike on Sunday before heading out of Chiang Mai on Monday up to Pai.


Mae Yim

Got on the 1095 and, wow, truly wonderful. Decided to have a look at the viewpoint near Pha Hin so took a left and headed up.


Not the Phantoms home turf!

On a rather steep bit met a pickup coming down, in the rather delicate/desperate maneuvering that took place I made the mistake of stopping (yes I know, 'keep the power on'!). A cruiser, on a steep hill, rubbish grip and only the front brake on. As we slid backwards down the gravel and rock filled 'road' I was glad of the reasonable protective gear we were wearing as well as the credit card in my pocket for when we returned the bike! Thankfully we came to a stop, right way up, and exchanged smiles and laughs with the Thai driver.
Got to the top eventually (thought we may never come here again in our lives so not going to give up just yet) and got a great view of the countryside as well as meet some locals working up here.


Just on our way back down and met a military bloke on a dirt bike. Was a little worried at first as we had been taking pictures by a building festooned in satellites so thought 'crap'! But he took one look at us, one look at the bike, one look at the road we were about to ride down, and shook my hand whist repeatedly saying 'lucky'! My only regret is that we did not ask if we could take his picture, he was a nice bloke.


The way back down, this was a good bit...

We then continued on to Pai where we stayed at the Baan Pai Village.


Nice place, but had another run in with the 'Law' that evening....

Pai was busy, in a backpacker kinda way, but we quite liked it as we were just passing through. Found a nice place to eat called the 'Curry Shack'. Pretty much a bloke cooking curry in a shack! Great cheap Thai food.

Tuesday we headed off for Mae Hong Son.


Filled up on the way out. Riders are friendly the world over. Probably needed his bike the day before!

Some of the great roads, and views on the way.


We had booked two nights so we could just spend a day exploring the area around, we didn't know yet how helpful that was going to be!


Sang Tong Huts - great place if you are staying a while.

Fantastic roads again and stopped for a cigar, as you do.


Universal 'rabbit ears' deployed - Check

Took a detour up to Mae Lana and stopped for some food, think it was called the Garden Home Guest House? Had trouble communicating but managed to get the message across that we were looking for somewhere to eat. She motioned for us to sit down and then disappeared.....for about 20 minutes. We were just thinking that, as we hadn't been asked what we would actually want to eat, there had been a bit of a misunderstanding but, just then, she showed up with two plates of freshly prepared food. Now, I'm a carnivore, but this was the best vegetarian food I've ever tasted!
We were about to head of when it decided to rain...... a little!


But it gave the bike a good clean.


We headed off shortly after, treating the roads with a LOT of respect!


Traction control? ABS? I want my Mum......

We were maybe 15K from Mae Hong Son when the weather came back for seconds. At first when the wind picked up, although I knew what was coming, it was one of the most amazing things I've seen. The leaves (and soon to discover branches!) looked like a New York ticker tape parade, incredible. Then I got punched in the face by a fist, wrapped in an innocent looking leaf! The road was getting bloody dangerous so we pulled over and legged it to a hut in the middle of a field with our gear. The flaw in our cunning plan was soon evident as the hut had only a roof, no sides. Since when does the rain in Thailand fall only downwards!?! We sat there, trying to keep our kit dry, whilst getting hammered from rain travelling practically horizontally!


Skool boy error!

We were also joined by a Thai rider and a western girl pillion. He was typical Thai; smiles, waves, laughs. She didn't talk, or even look at us once. How can you come to a place like this, meet people like this, and still behave as if you've got a broom stuck up your a**e???

The roads afterwards weren't great but it was amazing to see how quickly everyone was out clearing them up.



We got into Mae Hong Son and were then glad of the extra night so we could get our gear dry. Next day we popped into the town and got some fuel to go exploring.


Meditation - Human and Dog techniques.


And in the UK, you get shouted at if you dare to use a mobile within 50 yards of a petrol pump! The Health & Safety police would have a coronary.


We headed to Rak Thai near the boarder. Nice town, especially if you like your tea!


Then onto Pang Ung.


Good fun and quality twisty on the way.


We hit rush hour.


You can see why it's popular with the locals.


Then back to Mae Hong Son. Was nice to have a 'lazy' day where there was really no set plan.

Talking about plans, we were going to ride down to Mae Sarieng and then back to Chiang Mai the day after but decided that the distance could be a little too much so did a 180 and headed back to Pai.


Roads like this meant I didn't mind riding back the way we came.


Lunch in Soppong.


Nam Lod cave, was worth the visit.

Each to their own........


Peddle power.


Harley power.

As we approached Chiang Mai, we had some time so took a turn off and followed our noses. The signs stopped displaying English and it was a great way to finish, going through tiny Thai villages, before the relative madness of Chiang Mai.


Route 3010 (I think?)

Well, it was only a few days and we barely scratched the surface but it was fantastic! I remember riding along a particularly beautiful road, not technically challenging, at about a quarter of the speed that I do in the UK, wife on the back, and feeling completely content. For just that one moment alone, it was all worth it.

Thanks to David for this great website (and the Bike mag interview which started it all); Tony's Big Bikes, the Phantom didn't miss a beat. I hope to definitely return and will do my best to say hello at the Kafe.

Dave M


Mar 1, 2010
As if by magic! Should now be sorted?

Seriously though, I am computer illiterate!


Mar 1, 2010
Thanks for the welcome. It seemed a good route to get a taste of riding in Thailand. I'm glad though that I have a good few years of riding under my belt in the UK. As a novice I think I would have crapped myself!


Dec 13, 2007
Nice pics there Dave, welcome to the forum & thanks for sharing.

Looking forward to seeing more of your adventures.



Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
Pleased you came & enjoyed yourself.
It's pretty hard not to enjoy yourself riding here, the people are so friendly & the road network so good.

The Mae Hong Son Loop is quite an introduction to riding North Thailand.
Route 108 south from Mae Hong Son - Khun Yuam is an incredibly good ride that some guys rate as the best, or one that they enjoy riding the most. So you've still got more to ride & see out there.
Next trip try do Chiang Mai - Doi Inthanon - Mae Chaem, then Mae Chaem - Mae Na Chon - Khun Yuam - Mae Hong Son.

Many thanks for the contribution. We hope to see you back many times.


Dec 6, 2005
DaveM wrote: As a novice I think I would have crapped myself!
The first time I rode a bike with gears was heading out of Mr Mechanic on an XR into peak hour... I was too scared to crap myself :lol:

The bug definately bit and my life is significantly about riding because of it...

Glad you enjoyed, and hope you wife maintained the secret from Ma so you can do it again next year...

and the next year...

and the next...

and the next...


David Learmonth

Apr 23, 2006
Nice photos & glad you both enjoyed it! As someone else has already mentioned - I dont think Thai roads are suitable for a novice rider either, so good thing you were UK "hardened" Hope you do come back again. I came here in November 2004 on a motorcycle trip & to cut a long story short - moved over here permanently in February 2007. Glad the bike performed so well, hired a Honda vTwin 400 for a friend of mine in January from Jeff & Tony & it also went very well - so I can recommend "Tony's Big Bikes" to any potential hirer! Well maintained & set up.


Mar 1, 2010
Thanks for the comments, we definately want to return. We enjoyed some climbing down at Railay as well so I can see a combination of riding and climbing holiday in the future (is there good climbing in the north?).

Will have a look nearer the time on a route so will be picking your brains, there's just so much to choose from! Will have a look on our map at that route David, we also bought the Golden Triangle map as well so something to consider for next time.

I'm not supprised that people come and ride here and find a way to make the move. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't ever, not once, sit there riding along whilst planning how we could chuck it all in and head on over!

The pics will soon be on the web so the mother-in-law will find out what I subjected her daughter too! This may be the last you ever hear from me............... :wink:


New Member
Jan 17, 2010
I really like your photos.
I think there is good climbing around Mae On, east of Chiang Mai? search for "crazy horse".


Mar 1, 2010
Thanks, photography is a hobbie of mine and for me a reason to travel in itself! Will have a search for the climbing, feel the need to start looking at flights already..........


Dec 27, 2007
Wonderful report and beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing! Happy Trails, Tony


Oct 23, 2009
Great pictures. You also get them all, the friendly Thai (including police) some snobbish Farang (we have to count some) the great downpour (without rain there is less to speak about) and of course the wonderful 1864 curves (I did not count them) of the MHS loop. Hope to meet you on some trails around here.


Mar 5, 2006
Congratulations on a stunning first trip report riding the redoubtable Phantom [No5?] out of TBBs.
I especially liked your diversion to Rak Thai with its picturesque lake and then on down to Pang Ung,
few make the effort to visist these two gems.
The Royal Palace on this same road is open to ride around, with its gardens and animal park.
Welcome to the GT Riders - looking forward to you next report when you return.


Mar 1, 2010
It was indeed old No. 5! A worthy steed even if I did give her a bit of a fright once or twice :oops:

We looked at Rak Thai and Pang Ung on the map and thought, why not? It was nice to get off 'the loop' and just point the bike at a town on the map and go.