Mae Chaem - a meander

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by DavidFL, Oct 31, 2014.

  1. Mae Chaem sits in a valley on the west side of Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand.

    IMG_2878. Mae Chaem - Doi Inthanon

    Only a 120 kms from Chiang Mai it can be a quick 1 3/4 hrs ride; but being so close to Chiang Mai many guys blast onto Mae Hong Son or Mae Sarieng for the night.

    The road R1192 into Mae Chaem

    IMG_6524. R1192 the Mae Chaem- Doi Inthanon road.

    Indeed Mae Chaem seems to be a bit of a quiet backwater town, but it is a beauty if you want to take your time & potter around; especially after the wet & just starting the rice harvest.
    Life in Mae Chaem is still very traditional.

    Enjoy these few pics I managed to snap over 2 days rambling around the beautiful valley.






    Wat Buddha Aen is just one of many wonderful temples in the valley.



    From what I can gather there are 4 bridges across the Mae Chaem river.

    IMG_5317. Mae Chaem river

    One of them is motorcycle only

    IMG_2881. Mae Chaem bridges

    Then there's this one - a pedestrian one

    IMG_2872. Mae Chaem bridges

    which you probably wouldn't want to ride over & break to upset the villagers.

    To the west of Mae Chaem you can ride up the road to Pang Hin Fon & get some sensational views in the late afternoon (= don't go in the morning when you will be looking into the sun.)

    IMG_5326. The Mae Chaem valley & Doi Inthanon

    Mae Chaem city

    IMG_5320. Mae Chaem city




    more coming..
  2. IMG_5342. Ban Thong Fai - Mae Chaem

    Ban Thong Fai across the river is famous for it's Teen / Tin Tok weaving.
    The new hot shop to check out is Tin Tok Art Gallery

    IMG_5343. Ban Thong Fai - Mae Chaem

    IMG_5344. Ban Thong Fai - Mae Chaem

    IMG_5345. Ban Thong Fai - Mae Chaem

    IMG_5346. Ban Thong Fai - Mae Chaem

    IMG_5347. Ban Thong Fai - Mae Chaem

    If you want to know more about this beautiful traditional weaving check out GT Rider here

    Now from Ban Thong Fai, there's also a new steep concrete road that powers on up to a magnificent new temple

    A bird's eye Google view of the way up

    Wat Pha Saraphi


    A view of Wat Ban Thap from Wat Saraphi

    more coming..
  3. You cross the Mae Chaem valley to the east, towards Doi Inthanon & there is another wonderful network of narrow, steep & winding rural roads linking up the villages.

    IMG_5279. Mae Chaem rural back roads & scenery


    IMG_5285. Mae Chaem rural back roads & scenery

    IMG_5273. Mae Chaem rural back roads & scenery

    IMG_5280. Mae Chaem rural back roads & scenery


    Wat Huai Rin




    Wat Mae Pan

    IMG_5270. Wat Mae Pan

    IMG_5268. Wat Mae Pan
  4. Yes, David …right next door. Thank you for renewing our awareness. I am eager to see the new spots pinned down on a map, and will add the destination again in bold on my - ever growing - wish list J . Of course, I particularly enjoyed your detailed and enticing illustrations … you took so many pictures that I wonder if there are some left for me LOL :crazy:

    My only disappointment, during my last visit, was Ban Thong Fai, most things were closed and grayish… it seems that it is better now, and I really hope that they keep their unique tradition alive.
  5. #6 DavidFL, Nov 8, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2016
    Mae Chaem is famous for its beautiful temples..

    Wat Yang Luang, originally built by the Karen hundreds of years ago.




    Wat Ban Thap - Mae Chaem

    Wat Ban Thap - Mae Chaem

    Wat Ban Thap

    Wat Ban Thap - Mae Chaem

    Wat Kong Kan
    Wat Kong Kan - Mae Chaem

    Wat Kong Kan - Mae Chaem

    Wat Kong Kan - Mae Chaem

    Wat Kong Kan - Mae Chaem

    Wat Phrao Num a black & gold temple with a chocolate robed Buddha

    Wat Phrao Num - Mae Chaem

    Wat Phrao Num - Mae Chaem

    Wat Phrao Num - Mae Chaem

    Wat Phrao Num - Mae Chaem

    Wat Phrao Num - Mae Chaem

    Wat Buddha Aen




    Wat Jiang

    Wat Jiang - Mae Chaem


    Wat Pa Daet

    Wat Pa Daet - Mae Chaem

    Wat Pa Daet - Mae Chaem

    Wat Pa Daet - Mae Chaem

    Wat Pa Daet - Mae Chaem

    Wat Pa Daet - Mae Chaem

    They've all got a story & something a bit special.

    More info here
    Mae Chaem Attractions
  6. Time for another Mae Chaem meander in search of the elusive "Silver Hair Pin" village & its artisans.

    Quite a while back I'd read an article in the media, about the village that made these, but it was so long ago that I can't find the one article I was looking for, damn!

    Twice before I'd tried to find the place but no such luck; but this time I hit the jackpot & stumbled across the village & one house that carries on this wonderful skill.

    Yes sir, that's one household - 2 sisters carrying on the tradition of their beloved deceased father.

    The house & location



    it was the different fence that was the give away & made me stop to ask.

    Then there was an old banner with the famous father, just popping up over the fence.


    I asked the people if this was the place were I could see the Silver Hair Pins & was told you go upstairs to see Mum: Aui Suk Intakain

    Boots off & up the stairs I go into her house - a wonderful old classic building.
    Mum is sitting propped up against the wall.

    Her daughter is there methodically, gently working away.


    The daughter looks up & wow, what a beauty.


    Bubbpha Sangsan is her name.

    We chat away & the story is told.

    Dad was the craftsman, a famous one making the hairpins - Ping Thong Luang - gold hair pins, that royalty came to buy & use.


    Once only gold was used


    when it was cheap, now it is mainly silver.

    At the age of 48 his wife died, leaving him with 3 kids.

    That's when he took a new wife -"Aui Suk Intakaln" aged 26 at the time. Mum, Mae Aui must have been very devoted, looking after 3 kids straight away.
    Now 82 she is still lively & mentally alert as ever.

    Spinning cotton



    Note in the pic above the old gramophone behind.

    Whilst Dad was working away, Mum used to put on a record & sing to dad as he shaped new hair pins.


    There's also a couple of old "guitars" propped up against the wall,

    the guitar instruments are in the pic above, "top left" corner.

    Dad used to take a break from making the hair pins & strum away on the guitar to serenade Mum for a bit.


    Life goes on, Dad learnt his trade from watching his father, & now he's gone so his daughter has promised to keep the family tradition & craftsmanship going.
    His daughter, Bubbpha works at the Mae Chaem hospital on evening shift, & in the day time makes the silver hair pins.





    The implements used are at least 3 generations old

    The bellows

    The hammer
    100 years + they say

    The "moulds"

    Finished products

    Devoted Mae Aui


    Under the house other relatives work at Teen Jok weaving







    Simple as it all may look it was incredible experience for me chatting to Mae Aui & her daughter Bubbpha, learning about their life.

    One of the best heart warming cultural learning experiences I have had in Thailand.

    Thank you very dearly Mae Aui

    Apologies to Mae Aui & Bubbpha for any story inaccuracies. It was not expecting all the info.

    AND the village is Ban Thap. Ban Thap is on the GTR Mae Chaem environs map on the new GTR Mae Hong Son Loop guide map.

    Where to stay in Mae Chaem

    Where to eat in Mae Chaem
  7. The last part is another brilliant enticement for Mae Chaem, great story David, together with what you have published before, it should really attract bikers to stop over, even at a couple of hours from (crowded) Chiangmai. You were very patient to find this lovely family - my own quest, 2 years ago was rather despointing. This is for sure an ethnic highlight for GT-Riders.
  8. Today's Bangkok Post has a nice article on Doi Inthanon & the beauty of Mae Chaem.

    check it out.

    Now is the best time to go to Mae Chaem.
  9. 12 months on & it's that golden time in the rice fields of Mae Chaem...

    GTR-IMG_5290. The golden green rice fields of Mae Chaem

    GTR-IMG_5300. The golden green rice fields of Mae Chaem

    GTR-IMG_5301. The golden green rice fields of Mae Chaem


    Knock off time & happy hour out in the rice fields

    GTR-IMG_5305. Rice whisky happy hour in Mae Chaem

    GTR-IMG_5307. Mae Chaem happy hour in the rice fields

    GTR-IMG_5311. The golden green rice fields of Mae Chaem

    GTR-IMG_5327. Another day at the office in the rice fields of Mae Chaem


    GTR-IMG_5338. Happy sight seeing bikers

    GTR-IMG_5346. Happy sight seeing bikers

    GTR-IMG_5349. Happy sight seeing bikers

    Thanks Scotty007 & La - 30 year GTR friends - for joining us again for the ride.

    A bit more to come - Mae Chaem rocks right now - head out there if you can asap.

    Attached Files:

  10. Wat Buppharam in Mae Chaem

    IMG_5124. Wat Buppharam - Mae Chaem

    has what's called a folk museum


    & for a long time I've been trying to get in to check it out, but it was always locked - you had to get the keys from the amphur office I was told on more than one occasion & I was not not that keen to chase it up.

    But today was my my lucky day - open it was


    the museum holds a collection of old artifacts & utensils once used by the villagers in the area.




    The upstairs section has most of the items in glass cabinets, which make it difficult to photograph.


    & if you come from the big smoke, you would find all this interesting, I guess.

    These opium weights & implements are a reminder that the Mae Chaem area with it's Hmong community once had a significant opium growing area.


    Attached Files:

  11. Wat Yang Luang south of Mae Chaem is a pretty ordinary looking, old "run down" temple from the outside.


    but inside the Buddha is pretty impressive

    IMG_5164. Wat Yang Luang - Mae Chaem

    & then hidden behind the main Buddha images are some beauties.

    Supposedly the wat was built by the Karen, but the exact origins of / history of the images behind are unknown.

    Take a look behind

    IMG_5146. Wat Yang Luang - Mae Chaem

    IMG_5148. Wat Yang Luang - Mae Chaem

    IMG_5149. Wat Yang Luang - Mae Chaem

    IMG_5150. Wat Yang Luang - Mae Chaem

    IMG_5153. Wat Yang Luang - Mae Chaem

    IMG_5169. Wat Yang Luang - Mae Chaem

    There's also a trick silhouette on the floor in the temple when you close the doors & windows. Illuminated on the floor is the outline of a wat.


    Happy visitors


    IMG_5182. Wat Yang Luang - Mae Chaem

    Take your time. Check it out some time - you will be rewarded by the visit & experience.

    Attached Files:

  12. Hi David.

    Thanks for the posts on the silver hair pin village. I am always looking for authentic items and this seems to be the real deal.

    I'm planning on taking a ride over there in the near future and I have a few questions.

    Coming from Chiang Mai, the route takes me on the 1009 through Doi Inthanon National Park. If you are just passing through on the way to Ban Thap, do you still have to pay the park fee to make the crossing? If so, do you have to pay it a second time on the way back?

    I ride a Honda CB300FA. Any problem with that or do I need something a bit more off road?

    Finally, did you happen to note the price range for the pins? I'm not so much worried about the amount. I just want to make sure I have enough baht with me. I didn't get the impression that there were many ATMs in that neighborhood. :)

    Thanks again for this report and for all the other great information.

  13. #14 David, Mar 9, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2016

    If you have a GTR Mae Hong Son loop map you could take the the Ob Luang - Mae Chaem road R1088 to avoid the 300 baht national park fee.

    There is NO problem for an ATM in Mae Chaem. If you look at the Mae Chaem city map there is a bank & a 7-11 + a PTT with 7-11 which all have ATMs.

    If you need a map go here

    Mae Hong Son Loop Map

    and here

    Thailand Map Sales Outlets

    The roads are all asphalt - so no problem - away you go...
  14. Perfect.


  15. Generic, you do not have to pay the park entrance fee if you travel up the 1009 and then take the left on the 1192 to Mae Chaem at the first park checkpoint.
  16. Thanks johpa. That would make the ride a bit shorter.

  17. Just a head's up for Mae Chaem
    in about 10-14 days at a guess the rice fields should start turning to gold & ready for harvest.
    Keep an eye out for & you will get some sensational photos.

    R1088 to Mae Chaem

    A Doi Inthanon view from the Pang Hin Fon road


    Where to stay in Mae Chaem
    Mae Chaem Accommodation

    Where to eat in Mae Chaem
    Mae Chaem Restaurants

    Need a map for Mae Chaem
    Mae Hong Son Loop Map
  18. Can only add to Dave's excellent post that we were not charged park entrance fees coming to Mae Chaem. First checkpoint we just told them where we were going and at the second we did the same and they just opened the barrier gate and let us through.
  19. For mine the absolute must stay in place at Mae Chaem is Kwan Lah. Beautiful old Thai wooden house converted into a GH. Awesome young guy runs the place... His family home... And not only is he a rider he's always looking for an excuse to ride! Ask for Nay. Great guy and just a great place to stay. 500-550bht. IMG_20170801_133024. IMG_20170801_122241. IMG_20170801_122248. IMG_20170801_122305.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. OK so Nay says... Gotta go riding up to this awesome viewpoint... Two ways to get there... See waypoints... But GPS wants to go the worst way thru deep mud. Best way is to Cross river bridge next to town market and then turn left. Head down about two klms as if going to Ban Thap. GPS should pick up on the easier route then... Still no easy ride on a big ADV bike but absolutely spectacular views. An absolute must do. IMG_20170801_175036. IMG_20170801_174943. IMG_20170801_173703. IMG_20170801_171328. IMG_20170801_180611. IMG_20170801_175957.

    Attached Files:

    • Like Like x 1
  21. IMG_20170802_070918. GPS point for Kwan Lah GH. Easy to find. Turn left at market follow road along about 400 mtrs and turn right into small laneway heading towards the river. 4th or 5th house down on your left.
  22. That's a nice view alright.

Share This Page