The Mae Hong Song Loop – A Road Trip through Thailand’s remote North West

Still at home in Germany I came across the so called Mae Hong Song Loop – a round trip which is supposed to be the most scenic of Thailand. With its 670 kilometres, more than 1865 curves and a route exploring the more remote parts of Thailand’s North, it seemed like the perfect adventure. I have to say, that I am not the most experienced rider since I never ride scooters or motorcycles at home. Only during vacations. Hence it also should be a nice test of my driving abilities.

Preparations
The first step was to get a good map of the area I wanted to explore. The guys from GT Rider are specialized in motorbike tours in South East Asia and have released a map just for the loop. In Chiang Mai it is sold in about every bookshop. It definitely was a great help in organizing the trip, looking for accommodation and planning day trips while on the loop.
The next thing was to organize a bike. Several websites, including GT Rider, recommended Mr. Mechanic in Chiang Mai. They have a good support and are very reliable. You’d probably be able to rent cheaper, but I wanted to be on the safe side. I ended up renting a Honda Dream 125cc manual for 200 THB plus 50 THB insurance. It was the first time I rented a manual but it seemed right going up and down steep mountains. It proved to be the right decision.

My ride for the loop. The onda Dream 125cc - The Asian Classic.

My ride for the loop. The onda Dream 125cc – The Asian Classic.

Leg 1: Chiang Mai to Mae Chaem via Doi Inathon NP (130 km)
The ride out of Chiang Mai was nothing special. A big road, fairly busy and not much to see. After the exit to road 1009, things changed. It was the road straight to Doi Inthanon Nationalpark and Doin Inthanon itself, Thailands highest mountain. The road towards the mountain takes you to 4 waterfalls which, compared to the other ones I saw so far, were mighty and raging. I took a break at Vachiratharn Waterfall, which I thought was the best. It was nice to relax there for a bit and watching the Thais stroll around.
But then it was time to chance the ascent to Doi Inthanon. The road was windy and already very scenic. I stopped at the two Chedis set right in the forest below the peak. The place seemed to popular with the Thais, but I didn’t bother to pay the 100 THB entrance fee. In my opinion the ride up to the peak was better than the peak itself. There wasn’t that much to see but a sign indicating that you just made it to Thailands highest spot. The best view of the surroundings were offered a little bit below the peak.
I took my time during the first leg so starting the descent and the ride to Mae Chaem Village, the sun slowly started to set. The ride to my first overnight stop was the highlight of the day. The light was beautiful, the road narrow, winding but still fun and easy enough to ride. At that point I already knew, it was a good decision to do the trip. It was almost dark when I arrived in Mae Chaem. Mae Cham is a really small town with not much there. Yet, I liked it after busy Chiang Mai and I enjoyed my first sunset in the mountains. I found a nice bungalow, got some food from the market and called it a day.

Leg 2: Mae Chaem to Mae Sariang (128 km)
I started early in the morning after I got gasoline and snacks at the local gas station. This was also the first time I realized how cold it is in the mornings and how hard riding can be at that time of the day. I really should have brought more warm clothes – a lesson that would accompany me for the entire trip.
The ride to Mae Sariang was nice and relaxed. However, that day I just wanted to get there since I heard many good things about the town. I didn’t pay too much attention to the scenery and hit the gas. I arrived in Mae Sariang at about 2 o’ clock and started looking for guesthouses. I asked at a local shop and the woman apparently had a friend who owns a guesthouse in town. She called him up and then lead me there with her motorbike. A little suspicious of the usual scams I followed her just to find out, that the place was nice, cosy and a good deal as well. Guess I should trust people more.
I checked in and ordered a late lunch. There I met Dorothée from France who had also arrived that day. We got to talk and decided to explore the two main roads and the river. Mae Saeriang is set between the mountains and a river, it has a relaxed atmosphere and it’s not very touristy. Along the river you can kick back in one of the restaurants with a perfect view. We picked a place and enjoyed the sunset with a cold one. There we also found out, that the town actually offers some really good trekking which isn’t as commercialized as for example in Chiang Mai. Sounded like a good option, too bad I didn’t have the time. Reflecting on it, Mae Sariang is such a nice town in an area that has lots to offer. I am sure tourism will kick off there very very soon. The town might change a lot in the the next few years. I was glad having seen it at this point.

Leg 3: Mae Sariang to Mae Hong song via Khun Yuam (164 km)
The night before, Doro and I decided to meet again in Mae Hong Song, the regions capital. She would take the bus and arrive at about the same time as I. This leg was the longest one but the route was the most scenic up to this point. The road winded like a huge snake up the mountains and down again just start all over again. The road lead through thick forests beautiful gorges and tiny villages. Time just flew by and after a bit I already made it to my half way stop Khun Yuam. Khun Yuam is basically just one road and the gateway to Mae Hong Song. I had a surprisingly great lunch at a local road stop and afterwards had a nap at the local park. The second part of that days ride was just as scenic as the first. By that point it was clear, that the riding is actually the most fun part of the loop and that the journey is the actual reward.
I arrived in Mae Hong Song at about three where I instantly ran into Doro who had just arrived as well. We found a nice guesthouse by the lake and decided to keep moving and go up the hilltop temple Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu. It is not only a temple but also a monastery where monks live year around. The view from the top was amazing – the city was located peacefully underneath and from the other side you could clearly see the Burmese Mountains. Having an iced coffee at the sunset cafe right at the spot we called it a day. Too bad I didn’t bring my camera that day.
The next morning I got up at 6 o’ clock to go up the hill again and watch the sunrise this time. It was by far the most amazing view of this trip until that point. The sun slowly rose above the mountains shining all kinds of red, orange and purple onto the blanket of fog that was still covering the city. It was well worth getting up early.

Leg 4: Mae Hong Song – Soppong / Cave Lodge (71 km)
The ride again was so scenic. A lot of photo stops on the way. Before heading off to my next destination, I decided to do a little detour to one of the Longneck Karen Villages close by. It is a controversial issue and I was struggling with the decision to whether go or not. I decided that I wanted to see for myself and took the rough dirt road leading to the village. My stay at the village was dominated by mixed feelings. I was the only tourist there at that moment and walked around the village a little. My impression was, that the people there actually have a normal life for their standards. The only problem was, that I myself didn’t feel good about being there. Imagining, that there are tourists visiting every day, it in the end seems like a sort of a zoo. So with mixed feelings I left for Cave Lodge, close to Soppong, where I was supposed to stay for 2 nights.
Cave Lodge is an amazing place. It is a guesthouse with a few bungalows and a huge common area, set in the middle of the forest, far away from everything and right next to a river. John Spies, the owner of the Cave Lodge, has been living in the area for 30 years and has a long history with the area’s hilltribes. Hence they offer a great variety of trips, hikes and activities. The area being famous for its caves, I decided do a one day caving excursion the next day. We explored three amazing caves with the second one being truly hardcore. We had to crawl through a narrow tunnel with water flowing through it. It was challenging and not for the faint hearted. Apart from the caving, the trip included a lot of hiking through the local hills and valleys. The area around cave lodge seemed so nice, that I regretted not being able to stay longer.

Leg 5:Soppong / Cave Lodge to Pai (47 km)
Before heading off to Pai, I met Marie, a french photographer from Paris. She told me that she was about to visit a village 6 km from the lodge to take pictures for a possible exhibition back home. Marie has a strong focus on portrait photography and since I myself am not that good at it, I decided to tag along and learn from her. It was a good decision. The village was appealing and the people there greeted us friendly. We were invited by a group of women for some hot tea and hung around trying to communicate. I know a few Thai phrases which usually helps to break the ice and put a smile on peoples faces. In terms of photography skills, the trip helped me a lot. I think I am now more confident to take pictures of people and to take my time whenever I do so. Marie was a great teacher.
I took off to Pai and arrived in the late afternoon. I can’t say too much about Pai because I basically spent only half a day there. The problem was, that my laptop quit working a day before, and I had an appointment to get it fixed back in chiang Mai the next day. Apart from that, coming to Pai was very different since all of the places before were really small, quiet and low key. Pai however is quiet busy and popular with the backpacker and hippie crowd. However, it seemed to have a very relaxed atmosphere and I think I would have liked it after a bit. Everyone I met actually like it a lot so it must be good. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to fully explore it and really take it in.

Leg 6: Pai to Chiang Mai (129 km)
I took off early after having a hearty breakfast at my bungalow place across the Pai River. It was very cold again and I once again wished for warmer clothes. I was told, that this part of the loop would be the most challenging and so it was. The roads were steeper and curvier than before and good attention was needed. It was good, that I did the loop clockwise so by this time I felt very comfortable on my bike and rushed through the first part. I stopped at a regular stop having a 10 THB coffee. It was the time to reminisce about the last days and the great experiences I have made. I felt a little bit sad with the trip about to end and not having the freedom a motorbike tour offers anymore. The outlook of entering busy Chiang Mai very soon also didn’t seem to appealing. The last part to Chiang Mai was rather shitty along a busy and big road with the traffic getting worse and worse. I safely made it into Chiang Mai and even got my laptop repaired the same day.

Last Thoughts…
It is safe to say, that doing the Mae Hong Song Loop by motorbike was the best thing I did in Thailand. The beautiful vistas, the nature and the many encounters with the locals as well as with like minded travelers were just amazing. The driving was so much fun and I can say, that I can safely and confidently ride a manual bike now. The freedom of traveling like this is unmatched. You can just do whatever you want – you can eat where and when you want, you can stop as often you want, you can pee where you want and you are always flexible to explore the surroundings of the places you stay. I mean, I only had a scooter like bike but it was sort of an easy rider feeling. It was pure freedom and the fact, that it was a road less traveled just added to this great experience. I really got addicted to this type of travel and I will do it again whenever there is a chance for it. At the moment I am actually considering travelling Vietnam completely by motorbike. We’ll see.

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153 thoughts on “The Mae Hong Song Loop – A Road Trip through Thailand’s remote North West

  1. very nice trip mate.. how about the accomodations?? did you find some hostels along the way in those little villages?

    • Hey Giacomo, for sure. I always found something, mostly guesthouses. They are not as dead cheap as in the backpacker places but that was ok. What are you up to anyhow? Where are you?

      • I live in Hungary since almost a year.. I’m working for an Italian textile company which has a production plant here in Hungary.. The place where I live is Pàpa.. If you’ll ever pass round here remember to stop by.. When I was coming back from australia 5 years ago I stopped in thailand for a few days but I din’t have that much time and spent most of it in Bangkok. I’ve always wanted to do a real trip in Thailand though.. So now reading your posts I’m taking some notes.. Hope I’ll get to go there soon.. So keep travelling and keep posting for us :)

      • Hey Giacomo, hungary must be nice. Sounds like you are doing really well. Good on ya, mate!
        If you ever get the chance to travel Asia, do it. It’s easy, affordable and it has lots to offer. I will be in the area for a while going to Laos next. Catch a flight and come over. In any case i will try to keep the updates coming. It’s quality over quantity though… Cheers, Phil!

  2. I traveled the road from Mae Hong Son to the Burmese border in January 1994…the road, literally, was being built. The “road” was made of thick, silky red dust so deep I had to use my outstretched feet as pontoons to steady the moped. And the roads on the return were absolutely terrifying — no guardrails anywhere. But it is still, as it was for you, one of the best experiences of my life!

    • Hi Caitlin,
      your trip sounds awesome. Compared to that, my tour was probably a walk in the park. I wish I would have done it earlier. You must have had one hell of an adventure then. Did you ever go back to Thailand to see how things changed. I think everything must have changed a lot and it still is. I plan to do a few more tours in Laos and maybe a big one in Vietnam. I will see. But thanks again for stopping by. Philipp

  3. Great post, thank you for the tips! I’m going to Thailand this April, will definitely check these places out :)

    • Hey Carolin,
      thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog. I hope you can use some of my articles for your planning. Thailand is really easy to get around so you won’t have any problems once here. If you do need some more input, fell free to get in touch with me. What are your plans so far. Oh by the way…you should really read a little bit on going up North in April I remember that they have a time when the rice farmers do a lot of slash and burn. The area is supposed to be covered in smoke then which makes it even hard to breathe. Better check it out before going.

      • Hi Phil,

        Thank you for your tips, I will definitely do some more researches before going. So far, I’m planning to arrive in Thailand from Malaysia by train, travel up to Bangkok and move to Cambodia. After traveling also Vietnam and Laos, I wanted to go back to Thailand from North in mid-june, arrive again in Bangkok and fly back home. Does is sound do-able to you?

  4. Beautiful photos, what an amazing adventure! Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey Holly,
      thanks for your feedback. It is an adventure, that’s for sure. It is safe to say, that I experienced more during the last months than in 3 months or even half a year at home. Glad you liked the articles. I’d be happy if you#d stop by again… Greetings from the Thai – Burmese border, Philipp

  5. What gorgeous pictures! I absolutely LOVE the layout of your blog. It looks like you’ve had a blast traveling! :) I’m massively jealous, haha!

    • Hey Kas,
      happy you liked the pictures and my blog in general. I love photography and this trip give me lots of practice. it is still hard to get some really good shots. I still throw quiet a bit of pictures away. But you are right, I am having a blast travelling. It’s not all gravy though. It can be stressful and exhausting and sometimes sharing the experiences with someone would be nice too. But that’s just part of the adventure and I always try to focus on the positive aspects. Tomorrow a new episode will start with me heading over to Laos. I am excited. Thanks again for stopping by. Greetings from Chiang Khong, Philipp

      • Yes, I can see how that can get stressful and lonely at times! Think of it this way, you’re not behind a desk every day, which makes me positively green with envy!

        Enjoy your travels to Laos, keep us all updated on your new travels :)

        Kassie

      • Hey Kassie, you are so right. That’s exactly what I have to think of when having a not so good day. Believe me, I had my share of office work behind the desk. Looking bad at it, and it’s not been that long ago, this here is just a different world. Eventually I will have to go back to a regular job but until then I will try to enjoy every bit of this little time out. Thanks for your support, glad you like the articles. I will try to keep the updates coming :)

      • wunderbar! :) Enjoy yourself, Phil. Enjoy it for all of us poor office workers stuck inside haha! :)

      • Hey Kass,
        thanks a lot. I will try to and my thoughts will be there with all of you in the offices and cubicles of this world. I know your pain ;). Actually it is not too bad and I will probably go back to a job like this. But for now, I am happy to be moving and seeing so many different places. Where abouts do you live? Best regards,

        Phil

      • For now, I live in Leamington, which is in the middle of England. But I’m hoping I’ll be living in Oxford soon, and maybe in a few years go back to San Francisco. I don’t think I can sit still in one place for too long ;)

      • Hey Kass,
        yeah I know this feeling of unrest. But I really hope that I will find a place one day, where I can settle down not feeling the need to move anymore. Or at least a place, where I always like to come back to. Let me know when you are back in SF – I definitely want to go back there. It’s a beautiful city and Northern Cali in general is amazing. Greetings, Philipp

  6. Great post mate, very well presented as well. Persig of Zen and Motorbike maintenance fame said that the difference with motorbike travel and all other forms is that you are in teh scene, rather than being a passive watcher through a frame (window).

    Would love to get some tips from you about how you went getting the maps and stuff into your blog as well, care to share?

    • Hey Damian,
      that quote is so true. It really sums it up well. I can’t wait to get back on the bike again. The next trips will be in Laos and as mentioned in my last article, I am considering doing Vietnam by motorbike as well.
      Concerning your question about maps. It is really easy. All the bookshops have a variety of maps and also the one I used by GT Rider. The Gt ider Maps are especially tailored for bike riders. I actually just picked up one of their maps on Laos. Great as well. If you want to look at them before, you can order them via the GT Rider Website. Hope that helped a bit. If you have more questions, just get back at me, I’d be happy to help. Philipp

      • Hi Phil, I actually meant the map in the sidebar of your blog! Thanks anyway!

        I can recommend staying off highway 1 in Vietnam if you haven’t already been. There is a diversion between Hoi An (Datang) and Hue along the coast that is worth doing though. Highway 1 goes through a tunnel at that point and the old road still exists, winding around the mountains and coast, quite nice. I’m sure some of the hill roads would be nice too but I never had the time to do them when I was there.

        There were a bunch of guys running Harley tours into the hills from Hoi An when I was there. if they are still there I’m sure you will find them, its not a big town!

        Cheers!

      • Philipp Dukatz

        Hey Damian, thanks for the info. I heard the Highway can be pretty sketchy. I would sure try to avoid going down that one whenever possible. I still haven’t looked into possible routes. Do you think it is manageable to go from Saigon to Hanoi within about 20 to 21 days or would this to much of a hassle. If so, I might just do it by bus or train and rent a bike for short trips here and there.

        By the way, I just completed the Takhek Loop in Laos with two friends. Three days only but really nice and very eventful I have to say. The article will be coming soon.

        Thanks for your input on Vietnam, I really appreciate that.

        Greetings from Central Laos, Phil

  7. Great post and wonderful photos. It was years ago that I visited Thailand and I really loved this part of the road so I really appreciate the memories. I still travel but to other places. Having said that, this post makes we want to go back. Thanks.

    • Hi Mz Zoomer,
      thanks for your positive feedback. I am happy, that you liked the photos. Photography is becoming more and more a passion of mine. which places do you travel to nowadays? I am actually not sure if it would be good to go back. I bet the Thailand you experienced back then was different from todays Thailand. Maybe it is better to keep those nice memories you have. Just a thought… anyhow, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. Greetings from the Thai – Burmese border, Philipp

      • I have heard that Thailand is very over touristed these days. I had a layover there when I visited Nepal a few years ago. I do quite a bit of trekking so have visited to mainly do that but also to visit some of the areas outside of Kathmandu. I recommend it. Recently back from the Banana Coast part of Honduras. Very stunning, untouristed. This is about to change though as a new Cruise ship terminal will be formally opening up in late 2014. I loved it. Trujillo, Colon Honduras to be specific. Hoping to get to Burma before it changes too much as well. Thanks for your comments.

      • Hey Mz Zoomer,
        you are right, Thailand is in part very touristy. But you can still escape the flip flop trek and see some nice places. You just have to do a little research. Apart from that, it was a good starting for me since it is quite easy and cheap – probably still the cheapest in SEA which actually surprised me.

        Nepal by the way must be just awesome. Everyone I talked to who had visited Nepal told me how great and beautiful it was. I didn’t hear one bad thing about it and it really made me wanna go. I am very much into trekking and the stories about it just sounded amazing. I was considering going there at the end of this trip but it wouldn’t be the right season. So I will see how things will turn out. I definitely hope to make it there.

        Over here lots of people told me about Burma. It must be beautiful but since the political opening, the tourism started to kick in and things got very expensive – not only for Asian standards. Apart from that, it must still be unspoiled and a great country to explore.

        Thanks for comments and stopping by. Greetings from the Mekong,

        Philipp

      • My pleasure. Looking forward to more of your photos and stories Phil. Like anything, there is both good and bad that comes with a country opening up. We always want it to remain untouched but I am certain that for many, as along as it is done will, they welcome jobs etc. Slowly, slowly. Cheers.

      • Totally right. As with everything else, there is always good and bad sides to the story and there is no ultimate truth. Myanmar is probably a good example at the moment. It will be really interesting to see how that country will develop and how it will cope with the increase of tourism. I will try to keep the pics and articles coming, internet is just not as widespread here in Laos as it was in Thailand. Thanks again for your involvement here, I really appreciate it. Cheers, Phil

      • No problem. I totally understand and look forward to more when your internet is up and running. All the best in your travels. Keep safe.

  8. Great writing! I have been to Thailand twice now but I’ve been a very typical Aussie and never left Phuket (shame on me!). I would love to explore Chiang Mai and the surrounds one day though.

    • Mate,
      you definitely should. Thailand has so much to offer and I love the people and the food. I know Phuket is very popular, also among fellow Germans. It must be nice but I have never been. Next time you can maybe take some time to explore some of the North and then head to the beaches. I think that would make a good combination. If you need some input on where to go or what to do, just let me know.

  9. Beautiful photos and very informative. I think you might have inspired me to do this next time I’m in Thailand.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Hey Jeff,
      thanks for your comment. I am happy you liked the photos but also the info in the articles. I always try to put a mix of impressions, thoughts, info and pictures together. Not always sure if it works out ok so your feedback is a great help. In any case, I can definitely recommend to visit the North of Thailand. Traveling here is much fun and very rewarding. Oh yeah, and being freshly pressed was such a big surprise. It came out of nowhere and now I got my inbox full of notifications and comments. How nice is that.
      Thanks again for stopping by Jeff! Philipp

  10. Your trip sounds like a fulfilling one! I am even more interested to visit thailand remote areas after reading your blog entry :)

    • Hey chenjieying,
      it is fulfilling and I am glad I decided to go. Travelling long term also never goes without some moments of doubts or frustration. The thing is to accept those moments as part of the trip and to be confident, that everything will be great in a bit again. The areas I have visited were not really that remote I have to see. Still less traveled than the usual route I’d say. There is probably more remote places to explore, which could be really interesting. The thing I like most abot it, that usually the people in these places are way more friendly than in the more touristy areas. Do you have any plans to go to Thailand soon? Where are you based anyhow? Maybe I will be in your area at one point of this trip…

  11. nice story, and nice pictures… now I feel nostalgic. I had a chance to do the loop with a Thai choppper group some years back, the only available bike had no breaks. They were happy to take me a long, and seemed indifferent to the torture I put the bike through. In Mae Hong Song there were hot springs, and they let us camp there. Wise choice to pay a little more for the bike, some renters make more from repairs and accidents then the rents themselves :)

    • Hey pasiarasola,

      thanks for your feedback and sharing your story. Sounds like a great adventure. It#s great to do these things. No one can ever take these memories away from us, no matter what’ll happen. I actually passed the hotsprings at Mae Hong Song and wanted to take a bath. But it wasn’t as I expected a natural pool with hot water. You would have to sit in an bath tub filled with water from the springs. Not my type of thing.
      You are right in terms of renting. It’s better to spend a little more but to be free from worry. Are you planning on coming back to Thailand or exploring some other Asian countries then?

  12. Amazing article and photos. The shot of the waterfall reminds me of a place in South Africa called Magwa Falls.

    • Hey Gypsy,
      thanks for commenting on the photos. I like the waterfall very much. The conditions were not easy and I wasn’t sure if the photos would turn out well. Hence, I was really happy to see the results. South Africa mst be so nice well though. I always wanted to go but haven’t had the chance so far. Maybe one day. Where is that waterfall at you mentioned? Greetings from the Thai- Burmese border,
      Philipp

      • The waterfall is in a part of South africa called the Wild Coast. It is near a town called Port St Johns.

      • Hey Gipsy,
        thanks for the tip. Sounds very nice and will definately look into it. Travel advice is always great. I hope I will make it to SA sometime. Greetings from Laos, Philipp!

      • And Laos is another place I should get to. Malaysia and Singapore are the only countries in Asia I have visited.

  13. Thanks for sharing this trip! Beautiful photos.

    • Hey woshoudebuhaoshou,

      glad you like the photos. I always try to capture those special moments but it’s not that easy. Can get frustrating but if you a great shot at the end of the day, it is very rewarding. Are you into photography as well? Best regards, Philipp

      • I know nothing about photography, but I’m going to try and learn a little bit over the next few months. My husband brought a Nikon Tamron with us to China, so I plan on figuring out how to use it. Good luck in the rest of your travels!

      • Hey woshoudebuhao,

        that is the best you can do. Just go out there and take photos, get some practice. Take your camera with you everywhere and look for good light and good opportunities. Not ever shot will be great but you will get a feel for the right situations. Be patient. Two advices from me: Get started with a proper photography course. I did a two day course to learn the basics and I am still benefiting from that. Check youtube or some other video platforms for tutorials. There is heaps of them out there and they sure helped me a lot.

        If you want to, you can post a picture here and I will comment on it. But remember, photography is very personal. What you like, some others might not like and vice versa. There is no right or wrong.

        Have fun getting into photography. Best regards,

        Philipp

    • Thanks for the encouragement/support, Philipp! And my husband corrected me. He brought a Nikon D70 that has a Tamarac lens…guess I have a lot to learn, but am anxious to do so. Safe travels through Laos!

      • Thanks, will try to stay safe. The D70 is a very descent camera – you will have fun with it. Don’t be afraid to try things out. It will just get you further. Keep me updated and feel free to post some pics here. Good luck learning the trade ;)

  14. tienvinh8x

    wow. Very nice!

    • Hey Tienvinh,
      thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Are you in vietnam? I will be there probably by mid March or so. Best regards,

      Philipp

  15. Thanks for share..

  16. I love your journeys! It looks really fun and super adventurous !

    • Hi Tanja,
      thank you so much for stopping by. It is fun and I am always for the adventure. Not so easy in Thailand since it is quiet developed in terms of tourism. I had a good mix though and it got me started into my trip. Tomorrow it will be off to Laos. Wonder how that’s gonna be like.
      Are you traveling at the moment or are you having any plans to do so soon? Cheers, Philipp

  17. free penny press

    A modern day “Motorcycle Diaries”.. wonderful for you :-)

    • Hey free penny press,

      thank you for stopping by. I have to admit, that I don#t know motorcycle diaries. Having done the trip, it sounds very interesting though. Is it a book? I definitely have to look into it? Do you ride motorbike as well? Thanks again for your feedback! Philipp

      • free penny press

        Hi.. yes it’s a book and a movie:

      • Great. I will try to pick up the book over here, Would be a great read after my trip. Thanks for sharing. I am planning to do at least one tour while here in Laos. Stay tuned for the report ;). Philipp

  18. Hi!! nive to meet you. I really like your story. I live in Thailand and u know,, I really love the pattern of Mhong Fabric!!!,, Really glade that i met s’one who interested in the Mhong’s culture cuzi really interested in their culture too,,, Welcome to Thailand :)))

    • Hey Rufinap,
      Mhong fabrics are very nice and beautiful. I Heard there is a big Mhong market in Luang Prabang, Laos. If so, I will definitely have to see it. Where in Thailand do you live now, Rufinap?

      • I live in Bangkok ;),, Have u been there????

      • Hey Rufi, that’s where I started my trip. You can check my post about it

        I might be back in BKK during my trip becaus it is easy to go to different destinations from there. Let’s keep in touch. Maybe we could manage to meet up sometime. That would be awesome!

        Have a good night, Philipp

      • Great! nice to meet u!! :)
        ,Rufina

  19. We are waiting for your trip in Indonesia. ;)

    • Hey Marga,
      Indonesia will be my last stop if I stick to my current plans. I am not sure, what I will see there. Was thinking about starting in Bali and then either heading to Sulawesi & The Molucas or going east to Sumbawa, Flores etc.. What do you recommend?

      • I don’t have idea, but please don’t travel to papua for security reason. You can choose other Island like Sulawesi, Bali, Lombok, Java or visit www-indonesia-travel, or www-southeastasia-org for better sugestion. ;)

      • Hi Marga,
        thanks for the advice. I was actually looking into visiting Papua. It must be pretty authentic and non touristy. I wouldn’t be to concerned about security issues but I heard it’s really expensive to get around. So I will probably skip and visit Sulawesi. That is supposed to be really beautiful as well. Thanks for your help. Have a great week! Philipp

  20. cakeytin

    Nice, I lived in Chiang Rai and Nakhon Phanom for a year, but never made it to Mae Hong Son. You should have headed further up to the Golden Triangle. Sounds like a fantastic trip.

    • Hey Caitlin,
      I regretted a little bit not having spent some time in the GT. At the end I was in kind of a hurry and my mind was already set for Laos. So I just had a stop in Chiang Khong and headed over to Laos the next day where I am right now. Chiang Rai and maybe Mae Salong would have been nice though. But that’s another thing you have to realize when traveling long term – you can’t see and do everything a country has to offer. You can really stress yourself by trying to see as much as possible. Sometimes it’s better to just skip a few things in favor of traveling a bit more relaxed. I hope you know what I want to say. anyhow, thanks for giving me feedback. Do you have any plans of going back to Thailand? Greetings from Pakbeng, Philipp.

  21. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photographs. Connie
    http://kingjesusblog.wordpress.com/

    • Hey Constance,
      thanks for stopping by. Glad you liked the photos. I am always trying ti improve and I know I still have a long way to go. It’s so much fun though.

      Best regards,

      Philipp

  22. great trip…thanks for sharing

    • Hey man,
      thanks a lot! You from India? I heard lots of good stories during my travels. It really makes me wanna go sometime. Maybe a short stint at the end of my trip and then flying from home Mumbai. What do you reckon is good to see?

  23. Hi Philipp,

    I saw your blog was Freshly Pressed- congratulations! I love your story and passion for travel. I just started a travel blog myself and like the fact that you are venturing down on the less traveled path as well. Good luck and try and visit India some time too!

    Padma
    pkwanderlust.wordpress.com

    • Hi Padma,

      thanks for stopping by and good on ya for starting a blog yourself. I was thinking a long time whether or not to write a blog. By now I am happy that I decided to do it. It is fun and the feedback of people like you is very rewarding. I think it will be a good memory sometime as well. So about India… I am really considering to go at the end of my journey. Do you have any recommendations on where to go? The country is so big.

      What are your travel plans at the moment? Greetings from Laos, Philipp.

  24. Gorgeous photos! You really have a knack for photographing people. This is one area of Thailand I haven’t had the pleasure of exploring..yet. I lived in Bangkok for two years and got to travel around a lot of Southeast Asia but Thailand is by far my favorite!

    • Hi Coti,
      thanks a lot, your compliment means a lot to me. Because so far, I always considered people photography my weakness. I still have to work on it and I think it is much harder than for example landscapes etc.. But it’s fun and can be very rewarding. In the end, travelling is not just about the places you see but also the people you meet. Great, that you got to live in BKK for 2 years. Did you read my post on my stay in BKK? I always like getting there but then I am also happy to leave again. It is a weird relationship. Are you planning on coming back to Thailand anytime soon? Greetings from Laos, Philipp

      • I haven’t read that one yet, but I will! I think you’re someone who either loves Bangkok or just moderately likes it there. I fell in love with it instantly and still miss it so much. I would love to go back as soon as I can but I also really enjoy visiting the other beautiful parts of Southeast Asia. :)

  25. Reblogged this on ARZcreation.com.

  26. Hi Phil!
    I’m so pleased I found your blog! Nice article and cool pics! Tx for sharing! we are looking to do a similar trip, but to possibly take the bikes across into Laos. Do you think that this would be possible with a rental bike? Otherwise we may buy a bike instead? Enjoy the rest of your adventures!
    Cheers
    Tania

    • Hey Tania,

      thanks for your great feedback. That keeps me motivated. I think taking bikes into Laos would be awesome. I already researched two beautiful round trips in central and southern Laos and there must be others as well. I am not sure how the Thai and Laotian customs handle taking a bike into Laos. Should be possible though. I would probably get in touch with a rental place before. I know that in Vietnam people buy bikes, travel for a month or two and sell them for almost the same amount. Might be an option for Laos as well. I think, you should be able to find some more info on google.

      Please let me know, what you decide to do and how things are going. It sounds really nice and I’d love to hear more.

      Greetings from the Mekong, Philipp.

  27. That photo of the sunset over blue-purple mountains is gorgeous! The whole trip sounds amazing. And I love those vibrant images of the people — I especially like the photo of the two children, with the little boy sitting in the blue box; and the photo of the man and woman standing in a window, with the man looking at what looks like a photograph? You could be a great photo-journalist :)

    When you say that visiting the Karen village was a controversial issue, what do you mean? Was it a refugee area? I only know a little about the situation for the Karen people in Burma, and that many people have fled over the border into Thailand. Do you mean that you were concerned about seeming like a tourist, and that the people might not want to be disturbed?

    • Hey Nerija,

      thanks so much for your motivating comment. If I could make a living by shooting photos, that would be great. But I think there are so many good photographers out there already, that it would be very tough. For now I just enjoy improving my skills, posting the pics here. And getting positive feedback like yours is a great source of motivation. Thanks again.

      On that picture with the couple. The man was actually shaving and looking into a little mirror. And the women was watching him. Such a great scene. The problem with people photography is, you have to be quick and just get the right moment. Here it would have been perfect to get the razor blade so the whole situation would be self explanatory. But I still love the picture.

      Concerning the Karen longneck village. I think it is a very special issue. I heard, that this longneck tradition is only kept for touristic reasons. Apart from that, as far as I know, their village is basically a refugee camp. I don’t think that the people were uncomfortable getting their pictures taken. I think they are even used to it since every day there are tourists flocking through. But also because of that, I didn’t feel to comfortable with the situations. The photo shoot in the other Karen Village (where the picture of the couple and the others were taken) was much better. I don’t think that very many tourists come to that village and the village itself seemed more authentic. The people were really friendly and open. I think you can even tell by the pictures. I liked that shoot a lot better and we spend the whole morning there just walking around and spending time with the locals.

      Just my thoughts. Other people might think differently but it is important to see for yourself. You never know if you don’t go, right.

      OK Nerija, thanks again for your thoughts and stopping by. Greetings from the mighty Mekong. Phil

  28. Awsome blog! Safe travels

    • Hi gsnetx,

      thanks for your feedback, I appreciate it. Hope you are doing well.

      Greetings from Laos, Philipp.

  29. Wow, what an amazing experience. Great photo’s!

    • Hi Bucket,

      thanks for the compliment. I always try my time my best and still have to improve. The process is fun and the results are very rewarding. Photography is just my channel of creativity.

      Thanks again and best regards,

      Phil

  30. Thailand’s such a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. The colorful pics you posted helps to bring out the sights and sounds of Thailand. I especially admire that you left your job to travel to Asia. I’d love to do the same, but find it hard to pack up and just go! Must take a lot of courage. Was it easy for you? Do you have any words of wisdom or insight for others who wish to do the same?

    • Hi Asian Guy,
      believe, a decision like that is never easy. Our society and our accepted norms don’t make it easy. I struggled a long time to decide what to do before I finally decided to do the trip. And so far, I am really happy I did. For me it was like a now or never decision. I am still young (ok, not that young anymore), have no family, no debts and I am flexible. Looking at it, it should have been easy, but I still had my doubts. So I can totally understand, that you couldn’t decide to something similar up until now. But I think, if you really want to do it, the time will come and you’ll know that it is time for a change. Don’t worry.

      And if you need some advice or inspiration, you should definitely look into my earlier posts. I wrote quiet a bit about inspiration, motivation and also my personal background and my last day at work etc. That should give you some more insight and maybe some motivation as well. I’d be happy if my articles would be of any help for you.

      Keep me updated on what you decide to do. whereabouts in Asia are you from? I am always to meet new people and maybe we have the chance to meet up sometime.

      Cheers,

      Philipp

  31. Reblogged this on irrelevant trivia and commented:
    I can only wish to do this myself one day!

    • Hey, thanks a lot for reblogging. That’s great. Don’t just wish, do it ;)

      I know it is easier than done, but if traveling is something you want to do, there will be a way to do it. Good luck for your plans.

      Phil

  32. Awesome post and beautiful pictures!

  33. Reblogged this on ReadMeJustMe.

  34. Pingback: Roundup Thailand: Good Food, Nice People and 1860 Curves « ESCapology

  35. Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

  36. Been those places. But your pictures, wow!!!

    • Hey Lana,
      where exactly have you been? Thanks for liking the pictures. I do my best but sometimes it can be hard to get that special shot. I have to admit, that I delete a bunch of photos as well. Are you into photography as well? Cheers, Philipp

      • I’ve been to 12 countries in Europe (mostly western europe) and around SE Asia: Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Laos, mostly. I just love Mae Hong Son; a place I used to escape to get away from the city. No, I’m not a photographer, but i do love travel!

      • Philipp Dukatz

        Hi Lana, wow, seems you have seen a lot of this area. I bet Burma was wonderful. I heard lots of good stories while traveling and I am considering to go at the end of my trip. If the funds allow for it that is. It’s cool that you liked Mae Hong Song as well… I wish I could have stayed a little longer. What are your next travel plans? Greetings, Phil

  37. The Life Mosaic

    Beautiful photos, thank you for sharing your experience!

    • Hey Nate,
      thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate that. Stuff like that keeps me going and motivated to write. Glad you like my articles. Have a good weekend, Philipp

  38. Beautiful photos and a lovely write-up.
    I was near Mae Hong Son some years ago but unfortunately fell ill to explore it intimately. The lush mountains separating Thailand & Myanmar are still vivid in my memories. I have been thinking of doing Mae Hong Son trail as part of a West to East (Myanmar-Thai-Laos-Viet) trail, but not by motorbike. On your trail, do you know or from what you could see, whether it is possible to go by public transport or hitchhiking?

    As for India, may I recommend you check out Ladakh. It is the most memorable trip I had last year: http://plumerainbow.wordpress.com/category/wanderlust/india-wanderlust/ladakh/

    • Hi Plumerainbow,
      thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences. You can sure travel along the loop by public transport. There are public buses going on a regular basis so it shouldn’t be a problem. If you have th chance though, try do it by motorbike. As one of my readers posted, your part of the scenery and not just a spectator looking through a window. The freedom of traveling like this is also a great advantage. Your trip sounds very nice by the way. Especially Myanmar should be nice – I heard lots of good stories while traveling here.

      Thanks for your tip on Ladakh. If I go to India I will definitely stop there. It must be amazing. A friend of mine from France went there and his pictures where beautiful. I read your articles about Ladakh and have to say it sounds also very nice. I love the pic you posted. They really transport the special atmosphere of the area. Great work.

      So thanks again for stopping by, I really appreciate it. Greetings from laos, Phil

  39. I also like the design of your blog.

  40. Sounds like an incredible trip! I did a short motorbike day trip when I was in Vietnam and would love to do something like this. Great photo’s as well!

    • Hey Kid,
      motorbike trips are great, aren’t they? Where did you do your trip in VN then? I am looking at either traveling the country by bike or doing a few short trips. Not sure yet. But it seems a nice country to explore by motorbike.

      Thanks for stopping by and your kind words. Greetings from Northern Laos, Phil

      • they are! I did a trip around Hoi An and Da Nang with Hoi An motor bike adventures and really recommend it! I didn’t have any experience with biking and still had an incredible time.

      • I am really considering doing it since I met two guys from Belgium ere in Laos who are travelling by motorbike. You are just so much more flexible and are really part of the scenery. I have to do some research about the buying and selling first though. I will see… Great that you enjoyed that trip in Vietnam. I heard that they have a similar offer in Dalat which sounds very nice. It’s called Easy Rider I think. That could also be very interesting. Greetings from Laos, Philipp

  41. What an awesome trip, off the beaten track and away from the super touristy coast. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi there,
      thanks for stopping by and your feedback. I really appreciate that. It’s good to get off the beaten track and see some less touristy places. Especially since those will also change in a few years. I just experienced a perfect example here in Laos. I will write about it soon. Thanks again for your feedback here. Greetings from Luang Prabang, Philipp.

  42. I took a bus through half this loop…Chiang Mai to Pai to Pang Mapha. I’ve never been more sick in my life and prayed I wouldn’t die on that bus trip considering it was pouring rain. I also stayed at Cave Lodge and went into the Christmas Cave and some of the other coffin caves and of course Big Knob. It’s great to read about your travel experiences!

    • Hi Eunoic,
      sorry to hear that you got sick during the loop. Getting sick during bus rides seems to be a very common problem though as I had to find out here in Laos. I hope you still enjoyed the time on the loop. Cave Lodge is a great place and after having spent time there, I am definitely spoiled in terms of caves. The stuff around tat area is hard to beat. Have you talked to John, the owner a little bit? He is a great guy and has some interesting stories to tell. OK, thanks again for stopping by. Greetings from Laos, Philipp!

  43. What a fabulous journey you are having. I adore the photos – the people, scenery and food. I am definitely going to follow you so that I can follow your travels. Looking forward to the next installment. Best Torie

    • Hi Torie,
      thanks for your feedback and following my blog. This really keeps me going and motivates me to put in the effort. I just got back from more than a week in remote places without internet and not even electricity. So I have to catch up on the updates. I hopefully will have some time and energy to this during the next few days. Lot’s of things happened… Alright, thanks again for stopping by. Greetings from Luang Prabang, Laos – Philipp

  44. Golly, these are such beautiful snaps. Seems you enjoyed your trip! Nice! :)

    • Hi Imaginiarium,
      thanks for your compliment. I am glad you like the pics. I always try my best but sometimes it just doesn’t turn out the way you want it to. I am actually a bit unhappy with the pics I recently took. Difficult light and difficult situations. But that’s how it is when travelling. Not always easy but I am trying to improve every day. Are you into photography as well? Thanks again for your positive feedback, I really appreciate that. Philipp

      • Hello Phil D! I always love photography and travel. I know exactly what you’re talking about with the challenges in taking pictures during the trip. :) I guess that makes the whole experience worth while.

      • Hi Imaginarium,
        glad you understand what I was trying to say. It definitely makes the experience worth a while as you say. and I think, once you look at your selection of pictures after some time, they will make great memories. Putting in some effort is definitely worth it. However, I am a little bit unmotivated to take pictures. I am sort lacking creativity and the eye for good composition. I also feel like things start to repeat. Have you had this before? If so, how did you overcome this? Thanks for your advice, Philipp

      • You’re not alone. I had that point in my life too – like too unmotivated and lazy to move and take pictures. Actually, from time to time, I am having that. Whenever I feel like it, I make sure to do activities which I enjoy, it will also help if you do those activities with people you enjoy hanging out with. These things will make your mood positive and be more inspired. I also look at blogs or magazines which caters great photographers. It challenges me to do the same. Of course, skills come with it. Just try to balance things out, and you’ll find your way. :)

      • Philipp Dukatz

        Hi Imaginarium, thanks for your feedback. I think you are absolutely right. It is important to feel good and enjoy the things and situations you are in. If you have to force yourself to take pictures it usually never works out. That’s why I started to not even bother to take my camera when I don’t feel like it. Looking at other people’s pictures is a great source of inspiration for me as well. It is a challenge to take similar pictures and it sort of broadens your horizon in terms of framing and composition possibilities. By the way, I am considering buying a 50mm 1.8 lens today or tomorrow because they are way cheap over here. If I do, that should open up some new opportunities. Not sure if I want to invest the money though. I will see.

        Again, thanks for your thoughts on this. It’s always good to hear from fellow photographers. Greetings, Philipp

  45. I love your blog and have followed, I felt like I was there with you. Every week I do a “Giving Something Back” post where I honour the great blogs I have found in the week. This week I have chosen you to be amongst them. You will find my post at athenabrady.co.uk and it should be up by tommorrow. Once again a great blog.

    • Hi Athena,
      thank you for your kind words and mentioning my blog. That’s great and I really appreciate it. I checked out your blog as well and it looks great – congrats on that. I hope you are having fun blogging. I love the idea of doing a “Giving something back” post. Thanks again for stopping by. Have a great Sunday, Philipp.

  46. Pingback: giving something back 4, blogs bloggers,

  47. These places you are going look amazing

    • Hi Stephanie,
      I try to pick the places which I expect to like. So not always the beaten path but of course you want to see some of the highlights which just happen to be quiet touristy. At the matter of fact I am just stuck in one of these places. I found out, that I like the more remote and quiet places much better than those with proper touristic infrastructure. I will sure try to find more of these places. Thanks for stopping by my blog and your feedback. Best regards, Philipp

  48. tatius

    What a nice trip you made! My old friends who use to travel to Thailand frequently, always invited me to enjoy them. What a time of the year would be better to go there?

    • Hey Tatius,
      glad you like my post. You should have joined your friends, it’s such a nice country to visit. But you can still go, no problem. The best time is probably from December to April but it also depends on where exactly you want to go. In some regions the wet season ends earlier in others it ends later. I hope you will decide to visit Thailand. If you do so, let me know how it was. Greetings from Laos, Philipp

      • tatius

        thanks Philipp!!

      • Philipp Dukatz

        Hey Tata, thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoy the stories and the pics.

        Best regards, Philipp

      • tatius

        Hi Phillipp, ;) I enjoy stories from the travels. Yours especially ;). I do have some of them on my own blog – tatius.wordpress.com, but they are all written in Russian :). Probably I should try to do something on English too :). But you could enjoy my photos from all different places I uploaded to me blog, and also on Flicrk. The link to th Flicrk photos you will find at my blog on right hand side :). Have a look when you will have a chance :)
        Thank you!!

      • Philipp Dukatz

        Hey Tata, thanks for stopping by and your feedback. I will definitely check your blog and pics. by the way, there is lots of Russians traveling here in SEA. Do you have plans to visit this part of the world? Greetings, Philipp

  49. Pingback: 5 reasons why you must come to Pai « globalhelpswap - free and low cost volunteering opportunities around the globe globalhelpswap – free and low cost volunteering opportunities around the globe

  50. Wow! Very nice photography! thanks for sharing anyway :)
    I am now following!

    • Thanks magic, I appreciate your feedback and thanks for following. It takes a little bit of effort to upload these pictures and edit the texts etc. but it is definitely worthwhile. I just posted a new article… Thanks again, Philipp

  51. It is not my first time to pay a quick visit this web site, i
    am browsing this website dailly and obtain nice facts from here
    all the time.

  52. Amazing! Its really remarkable piece of writing, I have got much clear idea on the topic of from this post.

  53. Howdy! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick
    shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy reading your posts.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same subjects?
    Thanks a ton!

    • Hey, thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate that. Which subject do you need a website for? I am sure I can help if you give me some details. Thanks again and greetings from Sulawesi, Philipp

  54. Charlie

    Hi, my name is Charlie. your blog is really excellent and was the most informative and interesting things I have read about the Mae Hong song loop.
    I want to do this loop and like you, I have only ever ridden automatic scooters on holiday. I was wondering if it were possible to do a shorter version of this as im not sure I am confident enough to do such long distances in one day.

    I am really excited to do this trip and your blog was a relief to find somebody who did it and is not an expert biker (at first)

    All the best

    Charlie

    • Hi Charlie, sorry for my late reply. I am in Myanmar right now and Internet connections are slow here. Besides that, there is so much to see, that I hardly find time to use it when it’s available. Anyhow, you shouldn’t worry too much. The first couple of hours are a bit weird, but the road out of Chiang Mai is wide and straight and goes for about an hour or more. You have enough time to get used to it. After that it is just pure fun and you just wanna keep going. Riding with gears is so much more fun, especially on the loop. But if you still have doubts, you can shorten the route. You can do a trip to Pai and come back – but then again, this is a stretch with lots of curves. Going clockwise from Chiang Mai to Pai is better since the the curves increase if you come from that way. You can get used to the bike and the riding and will have the most challenging and fun part at the end. Do the whole loop if you have the time…it is so worth it. And buy the map I recommended, it is worth gold. With that, you can also plan your route en detail. Let me know if you need more input. Have fun and let me know how it was! Greets, Philipp

  55. Nice blog! Is yourr theme custom made or did you download
    it fdom somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blokg jump out.
    Please let me know where you got your theme. Thanks

    • I customized it a little bit myself and it is hosted on wordpress.com, which sucks. The theme is called Adventure journal or something like that.

  56. Hi Saku,
    how great that you got to buy a house in Thailand? Are you working in Thailand or is it just like holiday home? I like the idea of writing about Thai destinations. I think what you actually write about is very personal and you have to find out what is important to you. You could either just give practical info about the places you write about or keep it personal and write about your experiences there and your thoughts. You will find your own style once you start. I will make sure to stop by every once in a while to see how things are going. Have fun blogging, Philipp

  57. Hi,

    The house is my and my wife’s. My wife is Thai and we bought the house so that we have a home there as well as Finland where we live now. We visit there as often as we can and the plan is to move there someday. The blag on the other hand started as a school project for me. It’s still finding it’s form and we have a little competition in class for who gets most clicks. I really enjoy writing about these places as it brings all the memories back to me.

  58. Sounds really nice. I actually could picture myself living in Thailand – it somehow offers a nice mix of exoticism and the amenities of the Western World. I wish you good luck with the blog and I sure added a few clicks. Greetings from Laos, Philipp

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