The Mae Sariang Loop via Doi Inthanon – six days
Day 1: Chiang Mai –Doi Inthanon
113 km, total driving time 2,5 hours
Your guide and driver will meet you at the hotel for your five-day journey, titled The Mae Sariang Loop via Doi Inthanon. Our first destination is Sanpatong. If we travel on a Saturday, we will stop at the weekly morning market, aka the buffalo market. Continue to Chomthong, where we will turn off towards Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain of Thailand. Doi Inthanon is a national park with great nature trails and thundering waterfalls. Our first stop will be the most popular falls of the park, the Vachirathan Waterfall.
From there, we will continue to the summit of the mountain, where we will visit the shrine of King Inthawichayanon, after which the mountain is named. After that, we will walk the short Angka Nature Trails with its ferns and cloud forest. Next are the two Royal Chedis, constructed in honor of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. It is a popular destination for local tourists. Then it is time for a Thai lunch. After lunch, it is not far from the start of the magnificent Pha Dok Siew Nature Trail. With a local guide, we walk down the thundering Pha Dok Siew Waterfall to the Karen village Baan Mae Klang Luang, famous for its coffee.
We will spend the night in a bungalow overlooking the rice fields of the village.
Day 2: Doi Inthanon – Mae Chaem – Mae Sariang
229 km, total driving time 4,5 hours
Depending on the season, we will drive after breakfast to the starting point of the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail. This trail is only open from November 1 until May 31. It is a fantastic hike through the forest until we reach an open area with amazing views. It tends to become quite busy on this trail in the cold season, but the views are worth it. A local Hmong guide will accompany us. Then we descend the mountain towards Mae Chaem, a small town in the middle of corn and ricefields. The town is famous for its Teen Jok textiles. We briefly stop at a weaving center. Afterward, we drive to Ob Luang, another National Park, where we will have lunch. The Ob Luang gorge is the main attraction, which we will visit.
From Ob Luang, we will drive to Mae Sariang along a road with beautiful mountain scenery. During the drive, we will make several stops to take a picture and stretch our legs. After arrival in Mae Sariang, you have time to relax at the pool or take a walk around town. Look here for things to do in Mae Sariang. This charming town has some exquisite Burmese- and Shan-style temples. The American anthropologist Charles Keyes lived in Mae Sariang in 1967-68 and left us a fantastic legacy of photographs and field notes of this anthropological research.
You can explore Mae Sariang on your own or enjoy a beer (or a shake) at the Mae Sariang Bar overlooking the Yuam River.
Overnight at the River House Resort
Day 3: Mae Sariang
Mae Sariang – Mae Sam Laep – Mae Sariang 112 km, about 2 hours driving
After breakfast, we will make an early start of the day. We will drive to Ban Mae Sam Laep on the Salawin or Salween River. This river forms the border between Myanmar and Thailand here. On the other side of the river is Kayin State. There used to be a border crossing here, but the border has been closed for some time. We will board a local boat for a fantastic trip on the river to Sop Moei, a small Karen community. On both sides of the river, you will not see much going on. There are no villages and no agricultural fields in this remote area.
It takes about 45 minutes to Sop Moei, where the river splits into the Salawin and the Moei rivers. The Salawin continues into Myanmar; the border river continues as the Moei River. After our ride, we disembark and take a short walk, during which we visit the local school and chat with some of the villagers. Tourists very seldom visit this area. Back at the river, we board our boat for the trip back to Ban Mae Sam Laep.
It is time for lunch which we will enjoy in the village. After lunch, we will drive back to Mae Sariang, where you will have the rest of the afternoon to enjoy the hotel’s pool or explore the town on your own.
We will spend another night at the River House Resort
Day 4: Mae Sariang – Mae La Up – Khun Yuam – Mae Hong Son
190 km, about 5 hours driving
After breakfast, we will depart for Ban Mae La Up in the highlands. During the drive, we will stop at several places to enjoy the splendid views. Our first stop is the Karen village Baan Huay Horm, famous for its coffee. Of course, we will taste a cup of their coffee. Not far from Baan Huay Horm is Baan La Up, a village of the Lawa people.
The Lawa are the indigenous people of Thailand and were already living here when the Thai people migrated from Southern China. With your guide, you will explore the village and meet some of the villagers. During our walk, we will visit the local silversmith, who will give a short demonstration of his craft. After this, it is time to continue to Khun Yuam. Before arriving in Khun Yuam, we will stop at the Tai Yai (Shan) village, Muang Pon. This scenic village has a centuries-old monastery called Wat Muang Pon. We will stop here briefly.
Here we will visit the Thai-Japanese Memorial Hall. This museum commemorates the presence of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War 2 and focuses on the history of the “Tai Yai” (Shan) of Khun Yuam. We continue the Mae Sariang Loop via Doi Inthanon to Mae Hong Son. Finally, we will arrive in the Mae Hong Son, a town with Burmese, Thai, and Shan influences. We will spend the night in one of our favorite places in North Thailand, the lovely Fern Resort.
Day 5: Mae Hong Son
40 km, about an hour driving
Mae Hong Son is a delightful place with a scenic lake in the center and wonderful Shan-style Buddhist temples. After breakfast, we will embark on a tour and visit the local morning market. Next to the market is Wat Hua Wiang, which has a wonderful ubosot. Mae Hong Son was once known as the “Siberia” of Thailand due to its remoteness. It is the “capital” of the Tai Yai people. The Living Museum is a small center with old pictures and information on Tai Yai culture and festivals. After this, we will visit the two temples on the Lake, Wat Jong Kham, and Wat Jong Klang.
Mae Hong Son is also the home of the Padaung people, aka the Long Neck Karen. They came to Thailand as refugees from their homeland Myanmar in the 1980s. Here they became tourist attractions, and you can find quite a lot of negative publications about them. However, we would like you to judge for yourself. It takes a short boat ride on the Pai River to get to their village called Huay Pu Keng. After this, we will go back to Mae Hong Son and drive up to Doi Kong Mu, a small mountain overlooking the town and the airport. On top of the mountain is Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, a beautiful temple. We will spend some time here before we will walk down the Naga staircase.
Overnight at Fern Resort.
Day 6: Mae Hong Son – Chiang Mai
10 km, about 20 minutes driving
After breakfast, we will transfer you to the airport for the flight to Chiang Mai. It is the end of your Mae Sariang Loop via the Doi Inthanon trip.