Into the mountains of Pai and Mae Hong Son – five days
Day 1 Chiang Mai – Pai
129 km, total driving time 3,5 hours
Your guide and driver will pick you up from the hotel for your Green Trails Expedition, “Into the Mountains of Pai and Mae Hong Son.” Our first stop will be at the Mae Malai market, a wonderful and exciting local market. We take our time to walk around, during which our guide explains some of the unique products.
After lunch, we will drive to Pai, which is a lovely drive. Our first major stop is the Mork Fah Waterfall in the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. It is a short walk to the falls, an ideal place to break the journey. We will spend time here swimming and relaxing. After this, we will continue our journey and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
We travel through Huai Nam Dang National Park along a beautiful winding road. This national park is still one of the classic trekking areas of North Thailand. We will stop briefly at the viewpoint.
The Pong Duad Hot Springs in the park is our next destination. A nice and shady walk through the forest leads to these hot springs. After this, we will continue our drive into the mountains of Mae Hong Son province. During our driving, there is plenty of time for photo stops. Finally, we will arrive in Pai in the late afternoon. It is time to relax, for instance, dip in the resort pool.
Overnight at the Rim Pai Cottages
Day 2: Pai
Enjoy breakfast at the resort. After breakfast, we will embark on a beautiful and easy 20 km bicycle ride along the Pai valley to the Pai Hot Springs. After a quick adjustment of the saddle heights, the guide will lead the trip down the left bank of the Pai River, passing Shan villages and paddy fields. Then we will stop at the Pai Hot Springs and other spots.
Enjoy the local fruit of the season and some snacks before we continue. The Pai River Bridge has become a significant tourist attraction. Many people think the Imperial Japanese Army engineers constructed this bridge during World War Two. American historian Hak Hakanson convinced us with this article that this is not the case. A Thai government entity created the bridge more than 30 years after the war.
We will cross the Pai river crossing via the famous bridge and pedal up to the “Pai Canyon” for a breathtaking view of the valley. After this, we will plunge downhill and paddle gently back to Pai along the right bank of the river. The tour will end before lunchtime.
You will have time to refresh and, after that, explore charming Pai on your own.
We will spend another night at the Pai Hot Spring Spa Resort.
Day 3: Pai – Mae Hong Son
107 km, Total driving time about 2,5 hours
After breakfast, we will drive to Pang Ma Pha, further into the mountains of Pai and Mae Hong Son. During our drive, we will pass several spectacular viewpoints that offer views of rugged mountains in Myanmar. At Pang Ma Pha, we leave the main road and drive to Tham Lot, a fantastic cave. With a local guide, we will explore the cave on foot and by bamboo raft. After lunch, we will continue to Mae Hong Son. Our next stop will be at Baan Jabo, a Black Lahu village, where we will have lunch. This village offers spectacular views over the mountains of Mae Hong Son.
After this, we will stop briefly at the well-known Fish Cave. There are lots of fish in this small cave! Before we reach Mae Hong Son, we visit the Sutong Pe Bridge, a bamboo walkway that connects a Shan (Tai Yai) village to a temple. It is the longest bamboo bridge in Thailand! The bridge crosses rice fields and has become a popular destination for local tourists.
The day ends at the Fern Resort, a beautiful resort about 4 km outside Mae Hong Son. After arrival, it is time to relax at the pool or enjoy sitting in front of your bungalow.
Day 4: Mae Hong Son
40 km, about an hour of driving
After breakfast, we will drive to Mae Hong Son. We will visit the local morning market, inviting you to taste a typical Shan delicacy. We hope you like it! Next to the market is a lovely little temple called Wat Hua Wiang. Here we will spend some time with a local monk. Very close to the market is a small Mae Hong Son Living Museum. It contains exciting exhibits related to the Shan culture and old pictures of Mae Hong Son, so that we will spend some time here.
After this, we will drive up to Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, on top of Doi Kong Mu hill. The temple affords a spectacular view of the valley in which Mae Hong Son is located. The temple has two large white chedis, and the architecture is typical of Shan. We descend Doi Kong Mu via its Naga staircase and visit Wat Phra Non, a small temple that houses a reclining Buddha statue, and Wat Kam Ko, a temple located right across the street from Wat Phra Non. Afterward, we continued to Mae Hong Son’s most famous temple, Wat Jong Klang, on the lake. Then is time to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Visiting the Padaung people
After lunch, we will drive to a boat landing, where we will take a local boat to Huay Pu Keng. This is a community of the Padaung people, the Long Neck Karen. In the 1980s, they came to Thailand from their homeland Myanmar as refugees. Here they became tourist attractions, which were widely criticized in western media. However, we think you have to meet these gentle and hospitable people and judge for yourself. After this, we will drive back to the resort, where you can relax and have a swim.
Overnight will be again at the Fern Resort.
Day 5: Mae Hong Son
Enjoy breakfast. Your Green Trails Expedition “Into the mountains of Pai and Mae Hong Son” ends here. You can fly back or drive back to Chiang Mai, and it is possible to continue your trip to Doi Inthanon or Mae Sariang.
You have made half of the famous Mae Hong Son Loop. The other half is our tour, The Mae Sariang Loop via Doi Inthanon, starting in Chiang Mai and ending in Mae Hong Son.