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Mae Hong Son Loop – a bikepacking adventure through the Thai mountains

Simon Rosmolen

Mae Hong Son Loop – a bikepacking adventure through the Thai mountains

Bike Touring Collection by Simon Rosmolen



45:17 h

405 mi

30,375 ft

The Mae Hong Son Loop is a well-known bikepacking route in northern Thailand that stretches 660 kilometres (410 mi) through the provinces of Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son. You ride through tropical landscapes with high mountains and spectacular views of valleys, rice fields and rivers. It’s among one of the most beautiful multi-day road bike routes in the World.

The further you ride from the larger cities like Chiang Mai, the quieter the roads become. On the way, you pass small villages with colourful markets and beautifully decorated Buddhist temples. Count on plenty of elevation gain; you’re riding in the mountainous north of Thailand. The views of the many rice fields that sparkle in the light of the rising sun make the climbs more than worth it.

I rode this route in February 2018. It was my first multi-day ride in a faraway destination. Because Thailand is relatively easy to travel, I recommend this route to novice bikepackers. The tourist infrastructure is good, with plenty of accommodation and restaurants, where of course you can sample delicious Thai food.

Despite this, tourists on the route are few and far between. Beyond Chiang Mai and Pai, you mostly share the roads through the spectacular landscape with locals. In my opinion, cycling is the best way to escape touristy Thailand. From the saddle, far from the crowds, you really get to know this beautiful country.

The Mae Hong Song Loop is completely paved with tight asphalt and is cyclable on a road bike with tyres as narrow as 25 mm. You might want something a bit wider though to make sure you’re comfortable. I rode on 45 mm, which meant I could sometimes make an unpaved detour, which definitely comes recommended!

I rode this trip in seven days and skipped Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in the country, due to a stomach illness. If you have the courage and feel bike fit enough, I’d definitely add this peak to the Mae Hong Son loop. For that, check out the Full Tour and read my description of Tour 7. The best travel time is between November and March. Outside of those dates, you may encounter extreme heat or heavy rain.

Finally, Chiang Mai, the start and end point of the route, is also worth a special mention. I visited this city several years in a row for good reason: Chiang Mai has perhaps the greatest cycling culture in Asia. There are several bicycle-friendly accommodation options that have plenty of information about the area and nearby routes through the mountains. I enjoyed staying at Vanilla Residence, which is equipped with top-notch workshop and bike rental. I regularly joined group rides with other cycling clubs and pros from the Thai peloton with the owner, Prin (instagram.com/vanillaresidence) and cycling guide Shanika (instagram.com/chani_ka).

All this makes the Mae Hong Song Loop and Chiang Mai the ideal escape for your next winter! Have fun and don't forget to say hi to Prin and Shanika.

On The Map


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Mae Hong Son Loop

411 mi

41,525 ft

41,525 ft

Last updated: March 9, 2023

Tours & Highlights

  • 1. Chiang Mai naar Pai − Mae Hong Son Loop

    76.5 mi
    8.5 mph
    6,150 ft
    5,525 ft

    Get up early for the first day to Pai as it will be a long cycling day. The route to Pai is more than 120 kilometers and has about 1900 meters of altitude, mainly through mountainous landscapes and valleys.


    Pai is known for its bohemian atmosphere, colorful markets and tasty eateries. Pai used to be a

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  • 03:43
    27.0 mi
    7.3 mph
    3,475 ft
    3,150 ft

    I fled from Pai early in the morning. Not that I had misbehaved, I was especially curious about the next kilometers of this beautiful cycling route through the mountains in the north of Thailand.


    The streets grew quieter and the landscapes seemed to become more pristine. Yesterday's route is famous and

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  • 07:51
    56.8 mi
    7.2 mph
    5,850 ft
    7,025 ft

    Again the alarm clock was set early. This time it was even dark when I left. I deviated from the route because I wanted to see the sunrise from Ban Jabo Viewpoint. If you prefer this too, don't underestimate this detour to the viewpoint. There is a vicious climb with slopes well above 20%.


    The extra sweat

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    by Simon Rosmolen

  • 04:08
    41.1 mi
    9.9 mph
    3,200 ft
    2,275 ft

    After my rest day I continued cycling, but noticed along the way that I was still not on top of it. I decided to follow the route and drive as far as possible until I found a good accommodation to gain strength. It was scorching hot that day. My navigation tapped the 35 degrees on the way. Of course

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  • 06:24
    67.6 mi
    10.6 mph
    3,525 ft
    4,700 ft

    After a good breakfast I felt even better and looked forward to the remaining kilometers with confidence. I had my eye on the surroundings again and saw the bright golden morning light shining over the fields.


    Over a distance of about 110 kilometers you mainly cycle through river valleys towards the southern

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    by Simon Rosmolen

  • 09:00
    76.7 mi
    8.5 mph
    7,225 ft
    7,000 ft

    The route between Mae Sariang and Hot is, in my opinion, one of the nicer parts of the Mae Hong Son loop. It winds through the hills and has beautiful views of the mountains and valleys. You will pass through small villages and see locals growing rice and tending livestock along the way.


    With a distance

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    by Simon Rosmolen

  • 05:11
    59.6 mi
    11.5 mph
    975 ft
    800 ft

    I still had 95 kilometers back to Chiang Mai from Hot. This road is large and forms the main road to the northern Thai capital, no wonder it is very busy. Moreover, the route is terribly straight and long. I put my mind to zero and prepared for a long day of cycling past the heavy traffic.


    With the approach

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    by Simon Rosmolen

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Questions and Comments


Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    405 mi
  • Duration
    45:17 h
  • Elevation
    30,375 ft

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