MHS loop by Motorbike - thoughts?
Replies: 26 - Last Post: Feb 24, 2013 1:34 AM Last Post By: tecnomads
Jul 19, 2012 10:42 AM
MHS loop by Motorbike - thoughts?I'll be in northern Thailand for 12-13 days (no more), and want to visit Chiang Mai, Pai, Soppong, and Mae Hong Son City. I would REALLY like to do the loop by motorbike, as I ride a motorcycle here in the United States and love it.
This is my first solo trip.
It is also my first time to Thailand (although I will be in Bangkok for a week before coming up to CM).
1) Where should I go to rent a motorbike in Chiang Mai? I'd like a larger bike if possible.
2) I've heard horror stories about renting motorbikes and getting scammed. Any way to avoid that?
3) What do you think of the following schedule:
Day 1-5: Stay in Chiang Mai
Day 6-7: Ride to Pai in the morning, spend two nights
Day 8: Ride to Soppong in the morning, stay one night (for Thom Lod cave)
Day 9-11: Ride to MHS city, stay three nights/three days
Day 12: Ride back to Chiang Mai (full day of relaxed riding)
Any help or tips very much appreciated!
Jul 19, 2012 11:47 AM
1The motorbike scams aren't as present in Chiang Mai. You usually find these in Koh Tao, Phuket, etc.
I've done the loop a couple of times on both scooters and motorcycles. My favorite was with a Kawasaski Ninja 650cc (you really don't need more power than that). I would NOT do it on a Phantom as they suck for going uphill IMO.
Things to know: It's good that you have experience as a rider as there are many people who don't and try the route and crash. There is something like 180 switchbacks from Chiang Mai to Pai alone and is definitely the most difficult part of the drive. At the end of the ride to Pai, there is a lot of downhill and you'll only be able to use the hand break on a big bike and will have to go slow or you'll fishtail out when you try to stop. It is nice to have the big bike as you'll most likely want to pass a truck and go into the other lane when going slow.
Mr. Beer (I know the name sounds silly) has a good selection of different bikes. I have been renting from him for five years and he's always been fair and takes care of the bikes. He's on Ratchaweti road right next to Chiang Mai Saloon.
I would suggest maybe stopping in Mae Sariang or Mae La Noi after Mae Hong Son as it's quite a long ride from MHS to Chiang Mai.
When are you planning on doing this? It can get sketchy during the rainy season.
Even though you are solo, there are a lot of other people you'll see doing the loop (many solo). If you have any problems (my bike once broke down on the side of the road), somebody will come help you out.
Hope this helps.
Jul 19, 2012 12:09 PM
2That was incredibly helpful, actually.
Whenever I ask questions on other forums (even this one, sometimes), everyone insists that I will have an awful time if I don't spend a minimum of 6 months in a village at a time (exaggerating), so I appreciate someone actually answering my questions!
I'll be up there in early December, so rain shouldn't be a problem.
And why will I only be able to use the hand brake on a big bike?
Jul 19, 2012 12:10 PM
Jul 19, 2012 3:32 PM
4In regards to the hand break, I really don't know. It's only when you are going down hill really steep. I first encountered it driving down Doi Suteph on a Honda Phantom. I thought my breaks went out and luckily had enough of a straight away to go into lower gears.. turned out my hand break worked. I instantly brought the bike back and and asked Mr. Beer and he said it was normal for the bike. When I rented the Kawasaki Ninja, had the same thing. Just keep it in a lower gear and lightly tap the hand break when you see it coming up and you should be fine.
One other bit of advice, most places will give you a crappy little helmet for free, but if you ask they'll rent you a full on motorcycle helmet for 30 to 50 baht a day. Drop the extra coin as it will actually protect your head in a crash.
Jul 19, 2012 4:08 PM
5Good thought - I'll definitely make the investment in a true helmet.
Let me ask you this:
I'm thinking about riding back the typical MHS loop way, and going down to Mae Chaem/Doi Inthanon. Do you think that's possible in two days of riding, if I actually want to go up to Doi Inthanon for the view?
Jul 19, 2012 4:24 PM
I've hired ER6s and/or Ninja 650s from Tony's Big Bikes, Mr Mechanic and Mr Beer.
None of the places mentioned will scam you and in fact, the scams you hear about in the south don't really exist in the north.
Mae Hong Son back to Chiang Mai via Mae Sariang and Hod is about 6 hours or you could turn off at Khun Yuam and go via Mae Chaem and Doi Inthanon. Perhaps stop overnight at Mae Chaem and go to Doi Inthanon and Watchirathan waterfall the next day.
I'll be riding up that way from Oct to Feb. Might see you on the road.
Jul 19, 2012 5:15 PM
7Mr Mechanic as mentioned by Colin is very reputable, I have rented bikes large and small from them many times.
They also rent out protective gear. I advise you use it. I had my first bike crash last November in Thailand and boy was I pleased I was wearing a mesh jacket and proper gloves as well as a full face helmet. You can buy biker gloves in Tesco Lotus in Chiang Mai for about 400 baht.
Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai via Doi Inthanon is a nice leisurely 2-day ride, did it myself a few years back. Don't miss Vachirathan Waterfall at km 21.5 in Doi Inthanon national park, travelers often become immune to the charms of waterfalls after seeing a few but that one is truly impressive.
See my signature line for some pics from the Mae Hong Son loop as well as other rides in NW Thailand .... I have some more photos to add from November 2011, really must get around to doing that someday.
Jul 19, 2012 6:39 PM
8Man, you guys are awesome. Such good (and reassuring) information. I'll look over this in detail again when I'm planning specifics.
What about fuel? I planned on filling up in Pai or Soppong on the way there, and maybe Khun Yuam and Mae Chaem on the way back. I'm assuming that will be enough.
Jul 19, 2012 6:56 PM
9Fuel, food and accommodation aren't a problem. Available almost everywhere. One of the reasons I love the place.
Also have a look at GT Rider . There's a huge amount of information there.
Edited by: ColinP
Jul 19, 2012 7:37 PM
10QUOTE - "Day 8: Ride to Soppong in the morning, stay one night (for Thom Lod cave)"
Much better to stay in Tham Lod (Lot) itself rather than Soppong . Tham Lod is a village not just a cave , and there are many walking possibilities and things of interest at Tham Lod besides just the Lod Cave - , plus the scenery around Tham Lod is superior to Soppong , which in my opinion is just a highway town .
Stay Cave Lodge at Tham Lod , and its worth to stay a few days if you can manage extra days to your schedule. Its also possible to do the loop by public bus thransport. Weather doesn't get good till late October or early November. Before then heavy pelting rain and mud will often happen.
PICTURE - Nth part Tham Lod village
PICTURE scenery along road (very steep) to Yappanair several kms from Tham Lod.
Jul 19, 2012 11:07 PM
11The big gas stations I can remember are at Pai, Mae Hong Son, Mae Sariang.... but there are road side shops that will sell liters of gas in old whiskey bottles all around is you just need a bit extra to keep you going. Not the best deal, but you'll end up paying maybe 40 cents more on the liter if even that much.
I think Mae Hong Son all the way up to Doi Inthanon and back would be a lot of work. There are some really nice places around Doi Inthanon that you can stay for the night. Colin P has it right with staying somewhere like Mae Chaem.
Jul 20, 2012 1:51 AM
12like a larger bike if possible
Be aware that some travel insurances restrict the size of bike you can use. You might be able to pay an excess, but you'd be an idiot if you travel in Thailand without insurance, let alone ride a bike without.
You'll need an international driving licence as well as your US driving licence.
DON"T leave your passport as security. Do a search- loads of posts about that.
Jul 20, 2012 1:58 AM
Jul 20, 2012 1:58 AM
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