Road trip in Northern Thailand

So we spent about 10 days in Northern Thailand, doing the famous Mae Hong Son Loop. Ok, we only did half the loop because we doubled back on the same route on the way back and also made a detour to Chiang Dao. Driving in Thailand was a lot more pleasant and easy than we had expected. If you’re up for some adventure, I’d highly recommend it! Not convinced? Check out my FAQs about driving in Thailand to put your mind at ease.

**Scroll down for the trip summary**

Here are some of the snapshots from the trip. Amazing breathtaking scenery!

Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai
One of the waterfalls at Doi Inthanon NP
Chiang Dao Cave
The Pai River
Paddy fields in Pai
Sunset at Mae Hong Son

Trip Summary: 9 day Road-trip in Northern Thailand Dec / Jan 

Day 1 – Bangkok – Chiang Mai 
– Flew into Bangkok, transited to Chiang Mai via NokAir
– Arrived in ChiangMai mid afternoon
– Taxi to entrance of Chiang Mai University 
– Songthaew to Doi Suthep and back
Saturday Walking Market (Wui Lai Road)
– Overnight in Chiang Mai

Day 2 – Doi Inthanon, Chiang Mai – Chiang Dao (87km)
– Day-trip to Doi Inthanon NP, tallest mountain in Thailand (about 2hr from Chiang Mai)
– Wachirathan Waterfall in the NP (No entrance fee, spectacular waterfall)
– Siriphum Waterfall in the NP (A majestic and tall waterfall, visible from far. There is a garden at the foot, but it does not offer good views of the falls.)
– Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon and Nophamethanidon
Doi Inthanon Summit (2,565m) (You can drive up to the summit. There is a short trail to a signboard marking the elevation.)
Sunday Walking Market in Chiang Mai
– Drive from Chiang Mai – Chiang Dao
– Overnight in Chiang Dao

Day 3 – Chiang Dao – Pai (132km)
– Wat Tham Pha Plong (Temple in the hilltops)
Chiang Dao Cave
– Drive Chiang Dao to Pai
– Tha Pai Hot Springs (Time to soak in some hot / luke-warm spring water to cool off. You can even boil some eggs if you like!)
– Memorial Bridge (Rustic bridge offering great views of the River Pai and the mountains)
– Pai Canyon (A playground for the adventurous and sure-footed, and a great place to catch the sunset)
– Drive into Pai “city” (town?)
 Pai Walking Street night market
– Overnight in Pai

Day 4 – Pai – Tham Lod (49km)
– Wat Phra That Mae Ye (“temple on the hill”, offering views of Pai city)
Chinese village, Santichon (Set up by Yunannese hill tribes, seems like an odd Chinese theme park)
Wat Hua Na (Burmese-style temple)
– Drive Pai – Tham Lod via Soppong
– Check into rustic Cave Lodge, deep in the tranquility of the forests
– Simple hiking in the surrounding hill
Tham Lod Cave to watch bats & swifts in the evening
– Overnight in Cave Lodge

Day 5 – Canoeing / Caving adventures
Half-day black & white water kayaking (15km) + Caving (Tham Lod Cave & Coffin Cave)*
– Lunch at Soppong
– Karen tribal village Ban Mueang Phaem (about 15 mins by car)
*Cave Lodge is a great base for outdoors activities including hiking, caving and kayaking. They offer a wide range of single to multiple days tours. They also provide lots of useful information about the surrounding caves and tribal villages. You’ll be spoilt for choices!

Day 6 Soppong – Mae Hong Son (74km)
Fish Cave, Tham Pla (An over-rated, expensive “cave”. Probably the only cool thing is to watch the fish swimming against current to enter the submerged cave. What is inside, we will never know…)
Pha Sua Waterfall 
Phu Klon Country Club (for a 100bht natural mud facial spa!)
– Drive into Mae Hong Son city
– Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu (another temple on a hill top, with great views of the city)
Night market at the lake 
– Overnight in Mae Hong Son

Day 7 – Mae Hong Son
– Pha Bong hot spring (pretty disappointing – deserted and disused)
Mae Surin waterfall (which was dry…)
– Basically much of the day was spent resting and swimming in our hotel pool
*Apparently Ban Raak Thai, a Chinese village near the Burmese border is supposed to be really scenic and beautiful but we only learnt about it too late.. >_<

Day 8 – Mae Hong Son – Chiang Mai (253km)
– Drive from Mae Hong Son – Pai
– Piranha Fishing Park, Pai 
– Mor Paeng Waterfalls, Pai (Great fun with many boulders and small rock pools)
– Stop by along many of the boutique cafes along Highway 1095 just outside Pai
Pai Land Split (A farm with a famous natural land split across the farm)
– Drive back to Chiang Mai
– Tuktuk to Arcade Bus Terminal (200bht)
– Night bus Chiang Mai – Bangkok

Day 9 – Chatuchak market and park
– Motorcycle taxi from Mo Chit Terminal – Chatuchak Market (50bht/pax)
– Chatuchak market ***SHOPPING!!!***
– Chilling at Chatuchak park
– Bus A1 (from outside Chatuchak Park, 30 bht, 15mins) to Don Muang Airport


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