“The Mae Hong Son Loop – One of the most breathtaking drives, amazing, but Beware TURNS and turns and turns”, we read.
Okay, so should we do it? I ask Jonas. I’m reading Travelfish Mae Hong Son Loop Guide and thinking wow, looks so good…will we make it alive?! This would be our first motorbike adventure. ever.
Jonas is confident enough with his motorbike skills. You could say he went through a motorbike training intensive in Bali when we rented a bike for a day. Let’s do it. We walk to the rental company and pick a motorbike.
No insurance please…vroom vroom
They weren’t lying. The Mae Hong Son Loop is fantastic. We cruise through the jungle covered mountains, up and down, up and down, twisting and turning. The hills roll endlessly, stretching as far as the eye can see over the Thai border to Burma.
Motorbiking the Mae Hong Son Loop is by far the best way to experience Northern Thailand. The drive is amazing, it’s hard to keep your eyes on the road. There’s an amazing freedom to exploring this region on a motorbike that you can’t get if you travel via minibus from destination to destination.
If you are a motorbiking newb like us here’s some tips to safely conquer the Mae Hong Son Loop:
#1 Pick your bike. 120 cc definitely needed for the hills! Rent a bike at Aya in Chiang Mai or Pai. These guys are a fair company and won’t try to charge you for little scratches when you come back and if anything goes wrong with the bike they will charge you the fair price.
#2 Take photos of your bike. Right when you rent it, take some photos. 360 of all the previous knicks, cracks, scratches and damages. When you return it, you can be sure to prove you didn’t make these marks.
#3 Think about insurance. It’s just 40 baht or 1 USD a day and totally worth it. We are complete cheapskates and skipped it, I have NZ money and that’s like 2 dollars (still no excuse I know). We decided if anything happened to the bike we’d pay for it out of pocket.
#4 Look out for cracks and bumps in the road. This one should be #1 really. If you get in a motorbike accident or get a flat tire, it’s probably going to be because you didn’t see a hole in the road and were going a bit too fast. The road is pretty smooth but of course along the way there are a few dangerous holes and bumps that you need to s l o o o o w w w down for.
#5 Below 60 km. You want to go 30 – 40 downhill & sharp turns / about 50 uphill / 60 when it feels safe.
#6 Beep. Use your horn! This signals, helloooo, I am here, get back into your lane! Many drivers will drive in the middle of the road even on the bends. This means if you are a little too far to the left or the right of your lane, you will be playing chicken with a car. Beep on the turns and stick to the edge of your lane.
Don’t get scared and turned off from taking on the Mae Hong Son Loop. It is actually pretty cruisy, even for beginners. With common sense it is safe and just a beautiful experience.
Oh yeah and cherry on top. We make it back safe and sound from our trip. Jonas decides to go on one last ride. He’s going down the road and long story short, another motorbike tourist crashes into him. Everyone seems to be fine, Jonas has a bloody knee. Both bikes are shattered on the front. Both the bikes are due back to the rental company at lunch. Both don’t have insurance. Yikes! In the end, it all was fine, the rental company charged the other guy 700 baht for crashing into Jonas and I’m not sure how much his rental bike company charged him. Jonas’ body is quite sore now and he is pretty shocked after! It’s serious stuff! Most people can drive a motorbike without hitting a tree or another motorbike, but it’s always the others on the road you have to watch out for! Drive alert. So once again, don’t be scared if you want to go for it, just be safe.
P.S. Do you even tourist?