The Weekly #012 – Mae Hong Son Loop

Have you ever wanted to sit on a small, Thai moped for 600km whilst going around 100’s of hairpin turns, dodging and weaving dogs, cats, chickens, monks and other cars?

No, me either. But for some reason this week I decided to do the entire Mae Hong Son Loop.

Despite my arse feeling like it’d spent most of the week in a prison cell, it was one of the best weeks I have had in a very long time.

Highs of the week

  • Completing the incredible Mae Hong Son motorbike loop.
  • Visited amazing waterfalls and sites along the way.
  • Trained 4 times.
  • Finished January on a high and managed a good month overall.

Lows of the week

  • Asking for coffee in one of Thailands most famous tea villages.
  • Tender ass cheeks from 600km + of driving the moped.
  • Not writing as much as I should have done.

The Mae Hong Son loop

A wonderful winding road that starts and ends in Chiang Mai, taking in the entire Mae Hong Son province and away from the bustling city life of Chiang Mai.

Originally I was only going to go to Pai, which is the first town on the Mae Hong Son loop (if done counter-clockwise) but after hearing horror stories of the bus journey making many, many people sick I decided I’d make my own way there and whilst I’d driven the first 3 hours, why not continue and drive the full 16?

Some logic…

However, despite the dumb logic, I am super glad I made the decision to do so, as it’s been a truly brilliant week and I feel grateful to have seen some of Thailand that most people won’t.

Oh Pai, what happened?

Pai is one of those mysterious places that travelers, vagabonds, and hippies, mostly hippies, daydream about. There’s an allure about this small mountain village that captures people’s hearts and makes them overstay their original 3-day itinerary.

I can understand why, but I also can’t see it at the same time.

It’s in an absolutely beautiful valley, shadowed by mountains, rice fields, banana plantations, and the most wonderful jungles you could ever see. But there’s a different side of Pai that didn’t really take my fancy, but for others, that’s absolutely the reason they stay.

It’s kinda become the go-to spot if you’re into partying and smoking weed. Which, if it’s your vibe, then go for it. But it’s not mine.

The first day driving through the main street, it was literally difficult to spot a Thai person, not evening kidding!

Within the space of 100m I’d seen more elephant pants than I needed to, and that induced some PTSD from last week.

But to highlight how hippy this place can be, as I pulled up to my hostel, two young guys stepped out with dreadlocks past their waist, elephant pants blowing into the wind, a faint tinge of weed in the air, but wait for it…



Like, if that’s for you. Cool.

I came for the waterfalls, the hikes, and the nature and then I was happy to leave the little weed village of the north to bang their drums and find themselves…

The highlight of the week…

The drive from Pai to Mae Hong Son is a beautiful one. Less winding roads than the road up from Chiang Mai, but equally as beautiful scenery so you can really soak in some of the surroundings whilst driving with the wind in your hair.

I started my morning with a sunrise at Pai Canyon. The most famous spot for sunset in Pai, and by far the busiest too. But for Sunrise? Just me and my new boy, Ziyo. It was wild.

After watching a nice sunrise in the canyon with just Z, we headed for breakfast and planned the day.

The first stop was a waterfall just North of Pai, Mo Pang Waterfall.

Then it was to the ‘Hot’ Springs. I say hot, it was more like a tepid bath, shared with about 50 other people so I’m not sure this was one of the highlights, to be honest.

Then further north drives through the impressive Thai countryside and the last stop of the day for me and the boys was Nam Lod caves.

A super impressive series of caves that you get a guided tour through. Some massive cavernous halls that are cathedral esque and our guide spent the entire time shining her torch at random features and telling us that they looked like something…

Crocodile, ice cream, tooth, monkey head. In the end, we just tried to guess what she would say before she said it!

Asking for Coffee…

Have you ever received a look from someone and known you’ve instantly fucked up?

After a drive that can only be described as the scene from Dumb and Dumber where they freeze their nuts off during a ride to Aspen, I replicated that with a drive North to Ban Rak Thai…

One of Thailand’s most famous tea villages.

Bordering Myanmar, it’s a strange little village that has no Thai features, but mostly a Yunnan influence from the Chinese that invaded it some years ago. That kinda makes it a must-see if you’re in the area.

It’s a quaint little village, with a huge lake in the middle and then everything perfectly positioned around the outside. Makes it super picturesque first thing in the morning as the first boats go out in the mist.

That said, I’d drive just over 1 hour in the freezing cold. What else would you want when you got to your destination?


Well, turns out there are only a couple of places that serve coffee here. This makes sense given that literally, every single shop is selling tea.

Novice mistake, but after being caffeinated adequately, it was back on the road to head south to Mae Sariang.

Having done the best parts of the loop, the goal was to get back to Chiang Mai as quickly as possible.

If I was to do the full loop, I’d include Doi Inthanon again instead of heading down to Mae Sariang. Technically, it’s the full loop. But there’s nothing to write home about with the last section of the drive.

But if you were to take a small detour and head west towards Doi Inthanon, you’d be inundated with waterfalls, trails, the highest peak in Thailand, and much more. Which could easily stretch the whole loop by another 2 days.

I’d already seen this section of the loop, so it was time to head back to Chiang Mai and get settled for the week to come.

January in Numbers

I’m going to try and add these in monthly to closely track the goals I’ve set for the year in a monthly format. That way I know when I need to adjust the dials to make sure I am on track for the yearly goals I’ve set myself.

  • Workouts: 018/200
  • Days hitting step goal: 29/31
  • Books read: 01/12
  • Climbing sessions done: 01/52
  • Page views for January: 635/5000 (Only started publishing on 16/01)
  • Articles written: 008/100
  • Brand deals: 1/5

“You should be more concerned with your current trajectory, than your current results.”

This is a quote from James Clear’s Atomic Habits (A book I strongly recommend you read if you haven’t) and one I’m going to stay close to for the year coming.

It’s good seeing things written down like the above. It shows me exactly where I need to improve and catch up already, which means I can adjust the dials accordingly and get closer to them for the coming month.

Overall, I’m happy with January. I really wanted to focus on my fitness work, growing my online coaching, and helping more people, but being totally honest I’ve found it so much more difficult than I had imagined. Something that’ll be changing this coming month, for sure.

But that’s it. That’s my week.

Hope you’ve had a good one!

Till next week.

Explore strong.

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