What's The Best Route From Chiang Mai To Mae Hong Song On Dirt Bikes?

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by TonyBKK, Dec 20, 2012.

  1. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Happy Holidays GT-Riders! :happy1:

    Some friends and I are keen to ride from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Song on dirt bikes and want to stay off pavement as much as possible. We have plenty of time. I reckon we can budget 2-4 days out and the same amount of time coming back.

    I should mention, none of us has a proper GPS. I don't think any of us are shy to ask locals for directions though. Is a GPS recommended for this kind of riding?

    Looking at the GT-Rider map I am guessing a good route might be as follows?

    From Samoeng should we head straight west to Mae Khan (5032) or is the ride north to Nga Maeng on the 6033 better?

    Either way it looks like roads rejoin at Om Long.

    Or might we be better off heading south a bit to see Khun Khan NP? Any lodging available in this NP?

    I see a dirt trail to the north from Mae Muang Noi and a dirt road to the south (5032) that passes through the villages of Huai Mana, Yang Ha, Huai Fan Nuea, etc.

    If the 5032 is paved I reckon we will prefer the un-numbered dirt trail to the north. Maybe we can ride the 5032 on the way back.

    Looks like the dirt trail from Mae Muang Noi eventually comes to a T at a dirt road linking Mae Chaem Noi to the west to Mae Daet Noi to the south.

    Again we flip a coin- west to Mae Cham Noi and on to Wat Cham or south Mae Daet Noi from where we can pick up a dirt trail to Mai Huai Pu and on the a place called "Ae Oh". I'd really like to say I've been to Ae Oh ;)

    Quick question about lodging along these routes- is there any?

    I'm pretty sure my friends do not want to camp. The only thing I see is a guesthouse named Pang Ma near Huai Mana.

    Wat Chan seems like it might be a decent sized village- any lodging there? Or would we need to ride north on the 1265 to Pai to find a decent place to sleep?

    Guess I'll pause here before we plan the next leg to Mae Hong Song.

    Thanks in advance for any advice and guidance!
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  3. Johpa

    Johpa Ol'Timer

    The direct unpaved route, although many problematic sections now do have some paving to allow year around travel by the local Karen villagers, would be the "elephant trail" leading west out of Wat Chan to MHS. There are few options for lodging between Wat Chan and MHS, unless you speak good Thai and smattering of Karen to help find a local to accommodate you. But it can easily be done in one day. You can clearly see the route on our fearless leader's MHS loop map, it goes through the Karen village of Huai Pu Ling and comes out on the 5035 at the Fern Resort just south of MHS. You can spend additional time getting to Wat Chan from Samoeng, where there is lodging, by heading to Yang Moen (north of Om Long) and turning left at the t-junction next to the quite excellent noodle shop. There are a few options on getting to Yang Moen via Om Long (paved) or via north Samoeng (partiality paved). Anyways, this brings you back up to the main Samoeng Wat-Chan road, which is 70% paved. Either way, riding the elephant trail is one of those "must do" rides for anyone who likes to get off the pavement. The scenery is fantastic and it is long enough that at the end of the day the beer will rarely taste so good.
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Wat Chan - Huay Poo Ling - MHS is the way to go.

    Now to get to Wat Chan you have multiple options.

    But I think Id be inclined to take the main Samoeng - Huai Mana - Wat Chan road as this would give you the most time in Wat Chan - HPL- MHS.
    Its dark now at 6PM.

    However if you want to over night in Wat Chan there are home stays & a Royal project resort there,

    Karen Eco Lodge


    Karen Hill Tribe Lodge

    but at this time of the year they might be full of Bkk Thais enjoying the cold mountain air.


    Crossing over from Mae Chaem Noi - Huai Pu - Ae Oh - Sao Daeng - Wat Chan, should ensure you over night in WC I reckon.

    Years ago Sao Daeng used to be a huge Lisu village notorious for heroin / poppy fields & about 24 years ago on the trail south of Sao Daeng shots were fired in the direction of myself & my riding buddy of the day. Yep we both reckon a couple of pot shots were taken at us.....our speed immediately picked up & we did not slow down or stop until we were several kms further up the road. Enjoy the ride in there, it's remote & rugged & surely sanitized by now.
  5. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Dear David and Johpa,

    Thank you very much for the helpful replies and lodging links- excellent info!

    So, seems pretty easy to do this ride in two days.

    Day 1 Chiang Mai-Wat Chan via Samoeng

    Day 2 Wat Chan-MHS via the elephant trail.

    We're planning this ride for after the New Year rush. We'll be sending our bikes up from Bangkok on the train around January 16th or 17th and probably stop at the Euro Diner for brekkie before we begin our ride.


  6. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer


    I really think you guys will probably want to do it in one day. Admittedly, it has been a few years since I rode the whole distance, but by all reports it is much improved. If you do not have any unusual problems on the way to Wat Chan, I think you will find yourselves thinking it is too early to stop for the day. Of course everything depends on what time you get started. ;)
  7. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer


    Well the train from Bangkok arrives around 7am I think, but is often a bit late. Have to factor in the time to unload the bikes, get all the gear strapped on, top up the fuel, then brekkie at the Euro Diner; I could see us hitting the road as late as 9 or 10 am.

    Personally I'd like to take my time and stop to see the sights along the way. Understand there are some cool temples, a National Park, waterfalls, etc that are worth a visit.

    One guy in our group is a dirt novice and i'm still pretty new to dirt bikes and this will be my first real tour on the KLX so I'd rather budget too much time than not enough.

    If we reach Wat Chan at a ridiculously early hour we might ride on to Pai for some night life and tourist chicks ;)

    Seems that west of Wat Chan there are a number of dirt trails besides the elephant trail that are worth exploring.

    Its going to be hard to wait 2+ weeks, I'm itching to go NOW!! :happy1:
  8. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Moderator Staff Member

    Hi Tony,

    Last time and for the very first time.. I had my KLX bumped for some fat [email protected] BMW's..

    Trip report :-

    Expect the train to arrive at 10am earliest.. get the gear off and mess around etc.. you wont be out of CNX until after mid day...

    Would suggest you see if there is a train you can put the bikes on in the the morning, first one out of the stable - so to speak.. Thai rail is like a three leg horse race at top speed.....
    Then pick up the bikes in the evening..

    When I fly Bangkok Air.. the flight costs around 5,000 baht return.
    So if you just get the cheapest 3rd class or 2nd class tickets instead of the 1,100 / 1300 baht upper lower first class sleeper and fly..
    It will cost you an extra few thousand baht and just fly in the evening and go to the train station.. Get your bikes and early start in the morning..

    Mike just did the same for the train to Ubon.. as Ubon is usually a good 2 or 3 hrs late.. Flew in and picked up the bike and went to the hotel,
    Ready to start his Lao trip off to the border early.. No annoying delay for the Thai / Swiss rail service.
    Really buggers your day.. especially if your bike gets bumped.

  9. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    ^ Cheers Brian,

    I must confess it's been years since I've taken the train in Thailand, but in years gone by I always had pretty good luck and never arrived much more than an hour late.

    I'm actually looking forward to riding the BKK-CM train again, I think it's a very pleasant way to travel, and rather expect we might arrive CM a bit hung over ;)

    My riding buddies and I are quite flexible, time-wise, so if we get to CM late, it's really no big deal, we can do a short leg on day one or spend a night in CM, mai pen rai, arai go dai! wai.gif
  10. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Moderator Staff Member

    Every time I have taken the train the last few years.. it has been very late.

    If you are doing the sleep over on the train.. Then that is good fun.. Just done it too many times now :)

    Usually have limited time and want to start the riding.. Need to get self employed like you ;-)

  11. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Well, we'll keep our fingers crossed for an on-time arrival, but if it's late, no big deal.

    I'm looking forward to the night train with the fellas- we'll do our best to keep the beer girls busy! beerchug.gif

    (Years ago we got them so drunk that they had to be carried off the train upon arrival in Bangkok) :lol-sign:
  12. nakedAIR1300

    nakedAIR1300 Active Member

    thanx Tony for posting this thread

    i was wondering if any experienced mx riders could post a 4 day mock up of gear/clothes to carry and carry bag suitable for such a ride. (toiletries excluding)
  13. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    ^ Hey Banana Boy! Welcome back to GT-Rider!!

    I'm NOT an experienced dirt rider, but here's what I plan to pack-

    Full set of tools and spare parts which we will divide up between riders, to spread the load:

    8, 10, 12, 14mm spanners + adjustable crescent wrench.

    Philips and flat head screwdrivers.

    Set of Allen keys

    Thread lock

    Duct Tape + Electrical Tape

    Small Pliers + Vise Grip

    Zip Ties + Baling wire

    Spare tubes + Puncture repair kit + powder

    Tire Irons

    Air Pump with gauge

    Spare levers and pedals (4)

    I'd be most grateful if any more experienced dirt riders could let me know what I've forgotten :happy1:
  14. nakedAIR1300

    nakedAIR1300 Active Member

    what no clothes?
  15. Satonic

    Satonic Ol'Timer

    Toilet paper
  16. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    In days of old,
    When men were bold
    And paper wasn't invented.
    They'd wipe their arses
    On leaves and grasses
    And walk away contented.

  17. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    In light of your participation NAKEDair we've decided this will be a clothing optional ride :lol-sign:
  18. Satonic

    Satonic Ol'Timer


    Mosquito repellent!
  19. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    A must for naked riders!!! :lol-sign:
  20. Satonic

    Satonic Ol'Timer

    And don't forget your Swiss Army Knife

  21. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Just back from a ripper of a ride! 5 days and over 1000km of fantastic dirt roads and trails! Will bang together a ride report asap!

    Big thanks to everyone who helped make this tour a smashing success!


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