Mae Hong Son, located in Northern Thailand, is a hidden gem that is often overlooked by backpackers and travelers. But those who do make the journey to this remote province are rewarded with breathtaking landscapes, rich culture, and friendly locals. The Mae Hong Son Loop is a popular route for backpackers, and for good reason. The loop takes you through some of the most beautiful and remote parts of the province, offering a true off-the-beaten-path experience.
Planning Your Trip
When planning your trip, it’s important to keep in mind that the Mae Hong Son Loop is not a well-trodden path. You’ll need to be prepared for rugged terrain, varying weather conditions, and limited resources.
The best time to visit Mae Hong Son is between November and February, when the weather is dry and cool. However, keep in mind that some of the mountain passes may be closed during the rainy season, so it’s important to check the local weather forecast before setting off.
Getting to Mae Hong Son
The easiest way to get to Mae Hong Son is by taking a flight from Chiang Mai. There are several flights per day and the flight only takes about an hour. Another option is to take a bus from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son, but this can take up to 12 hours.
The Mae Hong Son Loop
The Mae Hong Son Loop is a 600-kilometer route that takes you through some of the most beautiful and remote parts of the province. The loop can be done in either direction, but most backpackers prefer to start in Mae Hong Son and travel clockwise.
The loop takes you through small villages, rice paddies, and dense jungle, as well as over mountain passes with incredible views. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to meet local hill tribes and learn about their unique cultures.
One of the highlights of the Mae Hong Son Loop is the long-neck Karen village of Pang Tong. Here, you can see the women of the village with their traditional brass rings around their necks.
Another highlight of the loop is the hot springs of Soppong. These natural hot springs are the perfect way to relax after a long day of hiking.
Accommodation and Food
Accommodation options along the Mae Hong Son Loop are limited, so it’s important to plan ahead. Basic guesthouses can be found in most of the villages along the route, but they fill up quickly during peak season. It’s a good idea to book your accommodation in advance.
Food options are also limited along the Mae Hong Son Loop, so it’s a good idea to stock up on snacks before setting off. Local dishes to try include Khao Soi (a northern Thai curry noodle dish) and Sai Oua (a northern Thai sausage).
Safety and Health
The Mae Hong Son Loop is a challenging route and it’s important to be prepared for rugged terrain and varying weather conditions. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes, bring plenty of water and snacks, and be prepared for changes in the weather.
It’s also important to be aware of the risk of malaria in the area. Consult with a healthcare professional before your trip and bring any necessary medication with you.
The Mae Hong Son Loop is a challenging but incredibly rewarding route for backpackers. The stunning landscapes, rich culture, and friendly locals make it a truly unforgettable experience.