Mae Sariang Motorbike Travel Guide
The Mae Sariang route is a loop around dozen tourist locations that are so authentically Thailand that they will blow your mind. When people think of Thailand, they think of beaches and bustling cities, but Thailand has so much more to offer. If you’re tired of overcrowded beaches and the populated cities, we suggest you pack your bags are set off on the Mae Sariang.
The Mae Sariang Loop will take you through twenty-seven main tourist spots and towns that will give you the complete Thailand experience. From the wonders of mother nature to the epitome of human-skilled artwork, the Mae Sariang Loop has it all. It takes a traveler through small shanty towns, sacred temples and rewards them with breathtaking waterfalls and mountain sceneries., The Mae Sariang Loop experience is unforgettable and though it is tiring, the journey this loop will take you on will leave you awestruck and wanting more.
Points of Interest
Salwin National Park
The wonderful journey on the Mae Sariang Loop will take you to the small town of Mae Sariang. And rightly so, Mae Sariang is very accessible from the towns of Chiang Mai and Pai, as people tend to trek to this little town to get away from the touristy crowd and experience the real Thailand. The town itself is a small town in Thailand that can easily be walked around and has to offer a lot of scenic sights and Instagram worthy pictures.
The town is home to the Salawin or Salween National Park. The national park itself extends right up to Thailand’s border with Burma, but one of its many entrances is from the town of Mae Sariang. The Salawin National Park is home to Thailand’s second-largest teak wood tree that tourists flock to see and has many, many nature trails that map the entire area of the National Park’s mountainous terrain.
Apart from being in Thailand’s mountainous terrain, the National Park also has a rocky river flowing through it that is very popular among the tourists brave enough to walk and finish the nature trails the national park has. The Salawin or the Salween National Park is the best of Thailand’s nature and the serenity of the National Park is unmatched. If you are a nature lover and love walking, Salawin National Park is a must-visit.
Be warned that some of the trails in the National Park are pretty long, so carry appropriate clothing and footwear for the trails can become difficult for those who are not used to trekking. And the easiest way to reach the national park is by a two-wheeler or a mountain geared bike, both of which can be hired daily from the town of Mae Sariang.
Mae Klang Waterfall
Another place on the Mae Sariang Loop is the Mae Klang Waterfall. The Mae Klang waterfall is 66 km from the town of Chiang Mai and is probably one of Thailand’s most visited waterfalls. The waterfall is the first waterfall that travelers encounter on their way up Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand’s highest peak.
The serenity of the waterfall is unlike any other. It is on the foothills of Thailand’s highest peak; Doi Inthanon and is also located in the very middle of the Doi Inthanon National Park. The Doi Inthanon National Park is also more popularly known as The Roof Of Thailand.
The Mae Klang Waterfall is the most popular among tourists because it is the first waterfall on the way up Doi Inthanon and if you ask any of the locals, they will tell you that it is a small waterfall. However, the Thai have a very different perception of size, because the Mae Klang Waterfall is a pretty big one. As with any waterfall, anywhere in the world, the best time to visit Mae Klang is in the monsoon. But there is plenty of water flowing in the other seasons as well.
The only way of getting to the Mae Klang Waterfall is through the nature trail that starts right from the parking lot and ends at the foot of the waterfall. There are multiple bridges on the way to the waterfall, under which flows silent water as they cascade down rocks and stones. The bridges, apart from connecting the two sides of the waterfall, also provide a nice vantage point to take in the entire view of the Mae Klang Waterfall.
Also on the Mae Sariang Loop is the Wachirathan Waterfall. This waterfall too is on the foothills of the Doi Inthanon and is the second waterfall on the way up to the summit. This waterfall is by far much stronger than the Mae Klang Waterfall and that is probably also because it is a lot higher than the previous one.
If you are already at Mae Klang, it is a small trek up to Wachirathan Waterfall, if not the waterfall is also accessible by road and has ample parking at the entrance. The English alternative or translation of Wachirathan is Diamond creek as the water that flows down from the slope of the waterfall, flows down on granite as it reaches the ground. The waterfall itself is quite segmented, but the cumulative height of the waterfall is approximately 80 meters.
On most days in the non-rainy seasons, the waterfall has one very forceful stream plummeting to the ground on the leftmost part of the waterfall and it gets stringier as you move to the right. But even without rain, there is enough water falling down the slope to manage a powerful mist spray and make rainbows by reflecting the sun.
The Wachirathan Waterfall too is in the Doi Inthanon National Park and is one of the more crowded ones on the way up to the summit. This waterfall is the most authentic of waterfalls in the region because of its sheer power and it is truly the best in Northern Thailand.
Doi Inthanon Peak
After having visited all the waterfalls and stopping at all twists and turns on the way to take in the sights of Northern Thailand, at long last comes the Doi Inthanon Peak’s summit.
The Doi Inthanon Peak is the highest mountain in the country and is a very popular tourist destination for tourists across the world and within the country. The elevation of the peak is around 8,500 ft and the view from this vantage is phenomenal. Doi Luang and Doi Ang Ka are the two other names that the locals sometimes call the Doi Inthanon peak which essentially translates to the same meaning, “the Big Mountain”.
The mountain was renamed in honor of the last king of Chiang Mai province, who was deeply concerned about the ecological situation of his region and participated in the preservation of forest lands and mountain flora and fauna. Now his ashes are buried at the top of the mountain.
Doi Inthanon is not only a symbol of historical importance but also home to the Thai Air Force Weather Radar and the Thai National Observatory. Summit can be reached by road and for the more adventurous amongst us, it can also be trekked up to. But in case you are planning the trek, plan to stop often, keep hydrated and wear appropriate footwear because the nature trail towards the top becomes a little harder to scale than the lower ones.
If in Northern Thailand and the Doi Inthanon National Park, a visit to the summit is a must. As not going there would truly be missing out on a wonderful experience. An added perk of the climb to the Doi Inthanon there is a sacred temple that is on the way up. The peace one feels at the temple is unmatched and it is also a nice spot to take a break. But for entrance into the temple, you must be dressed modestly
On the Mae Sariang Loop is the Baan Tong Kuang. The Baan, or village, is approximately a thirty minutes drive from Chiang Mai and the best way to get there is by road. The Baan of Tong Kuang is a cultural hub that exhibits the cultural ethnicity of the hill tribes of Thailand.
The village is a purely tourist-only destination and is split into five parts; each part representing a different tribe and its culture. The five hill tribes that have representation in the village are; Akha, Lahu, Lisu, Karen, and Pandaung tribes.
The village itself is set in between the paddy fields of Northern Thailand and is extremely picturesque. The residents of the place are predominantly women, children, and the elderly. As all the young men and women have emptied into the cities in search of employment to support their families back in the villages.
A visit to the village is like going back in time because all five quarters of the village are set up differently to showcase all the varying traditions of all the hill tribes in the small country of Thailand. There are many, many art and crafts shops and places to pick up souvenirs from. All occupants of the village are dressed in their traditional Thai attires and that apart from adding authenticity to the feel of the place, are very good photo opportunities.
The village is the representation of a large number of traditions and ethnicities in the country and offers, to the traveler, on a silver platter all that Thailand has to offer. But be warned that this village experience is not everybody’s cup of tea as it is very different from Thailand that is seen on TV and in tourism commercials. And for the energetic traveler, it is a good idea to trek into the mountains of Northern Thailand through the nature trails to take in the full beauty of rural Thailand
Next on the Mae Sariang Loop is the Baan of Khun Wang. It is a very popular tourist location among visitors to Thailand as it is famous for the world-famous Cherry Blossoms. Contrary to common belief, the Sakura or the pink blossoms is not only native Japanese and is available in Thailand too.
In full bloom, the sights one will see in the Baan are unmatched as their scenic beauty and the sheer look is awe-striking. The best time to visit this village in Thailand is in January or any of the Thai spring months as the trees bear the most blossoms at this time.
The village of Khun Wang is also home to the Khun Wang Royal Agricultural Research Centre. Once a wide expanse of land used to grow opium, now home to the wild Himalayan Cherry. The place has seen a drastic increase in tourists since the place has begun marketing itself as the ideal place to see the wild Himalayan Cherry in full bloom. The wild Himalayan Cherry is called the “phya sua khuong” in Thai and is in full bloom and best visited in early January.
Mae Chaem Valley
On the Mae Sariang Loop is the deceptively hidden valley of Mae Chaem. It is not the most popular tourist destination in Thailand because at a first glance you won’t find anything interesting enough to warrant your time. But give the valley some chance and it will reveal itself to you.
The Mae Chaem valley is truly Thailand, scattered with little farming huts and equipment, art and craft shops, bustling morning markets, etc. the village is a very small settlement and has no street lights and the roads too are a bit dodgy. But the real take-away from Mae Chaem is the beauty of the valley itself.
The valley is full of rice fields, all cut into different levels because of the uneven slopes, creating an unforgettable sight for anyone who stays long enough to see them. The village of Mae Chaem is located on the west side of the Doi Inthanon Peak and is one of the bordering villages of the national park region. The easiest way to get here is by road.
Mae Pan Waterfall
After enjoying the picturesque valley views of Mae Chaem, make your way to Mae Pan Waterfall. The waterfall is also under the Doi Inthanon National Park’s control, so it isn’t hard to get there.
Mae Pan Waterfall is the highest waterfall in the region, the crown jewel of the Doi Inthanon National Park’s waterfalls is far off the main track taken by people. The waterfall has water falling from a height of 100 meters and is best viewed from a distance. The water gushing down the rocks, set in between green moss stones and landscape is a sight to take in.
The Mae Pan Waterfall is also more popularly known as the backcountry of the Doi Inthanon National Park because it is off the main track that tourists take around the park. The Mae Pan Waterfall is a sight everyone in the national park should enjoy and the best way to get there is by road followed by a short trek to the water pools.
Mae Chaem is known for its breathtaking landscape and its rice fields. Set in the western slopes of Doi Inthanon, it has a hilly and uneven terrain which makes the rice fields look like they are floating in mid-air. The green of the village and valley is a sight for sore eyes and something every nature lover will enjoy.
The village of Mae Chaem also has a lot of shops that sell the local arts and crafts, little souvenirs, and organic local produce. However, Mae Chaem has more than its scenic beauty to appeal to visitors.
The town has multiple homestays in and around it for travelers to rent out to understand the unseen parts of Thailand before. The homestays are nestled between the rice fields and offer views of the valley and the Doi Inthanon National Park. There are multiple treks in the region, in and around the peak, and multiple places where people can go donated their time for volunteer work and get to know the locals. A visit to Mae Chaem may even become a trip of its own for people who love being one with nature and want to make a difference during their holidays.
Thung Yao Monastery
Thailand is known for its monasteries and monasteries are known for their quiet and healing auras. In this department, Thung Yao Monastery does not disappoint. A must visit on the Mae Sariang Loop is the Thung Yao Monastery.
The Thung Yao Monastery is in the Pai District and is famous for its golden, inverted cone-like structure. And its intricately carved walls and structures. The easiest way to get to the monastery is by road and there is enough parking around the monastery. Make sure that you are appropriately dressed and what you are wearing is modest as this is a place of worship. They do turn away visitors based on their clothing. But otherwise, they are very welcoming.
Namtok Mae Surin National Park
Another point of interest on the Mae Sariang Loop is the Namtok Mae Surin National Park. The Namtok Mae Surin National Park is Thailand’s 37th National Park. The Namtok Mae Surin National Park is home to many waterfalls, caves, unique flora and fauna, and streams that empty into the Pai River.
The National Park is the area between two mountains, Amphoe Khun Yuamand Muang of Mae Hong Son, and hence is quite rocky. The most interesting part about this national park is that it has more than one type of forest in its land area. It has a rich tropical mix of deciduous forests, dry evergreen forests, deciduous dipterocarp forests, and coniferous forests. Tourists have also recently started flocking to the Namtok Mae Surin National Park as the word about the orchids got out. The National Park has a wide variety of rare orchids like Vanda coerulea.
Mae Surin Waterfall
The Mae Surin Waterfall is one of the main reasons tourists flock to Namtok Mae Surin National Park. It is Thailand’s most picturesque waterfall, with multiple levels of rock and beautifully cascading, clear water.
The serenity and uniqueness of Mae Surin Falls is unmatched and attracts not only local but also foreign tourists.
Thung Bua Tong Doi Mae Ho
Away from the bustling cities and shopping centers of Thailand, Thung Bua Tong Doi Mae Ho is a wonderful place to kick back and relax in the beautiful scenery. The village is a large settlement of farmers who grow the Mexican Sunflower.
The village has field after field of Mexican Sunflowers that offers a very relaxing sight to the eyes and an amazing photo opportunity to your camera lenses. Thung Bua Tong Doi Mae Ho is also a nice place to set up camp in the forest surrounding it for the nature-loving traveler.
Next on the Mae Sariang Loop is the sleepy town of Khun Yuam. This town is special because of its morning markets and the people participating in them. The people of the hill tribes in Thailand are quite reclusive, they hardly come down into the villages and keep to themselves. But in the town of Khun Yuam, they make the exception of coming down to sell their organic produce from the hills.
Other than being in close quarters with the hill tribes of Thailand, Khun Yuam has its picturesque sunflower fields to offer and its relaxed slow pace of life.
The town of Mae Sariang itself is not too big and can be explored on foot or by bicycle. But the town has started to attract quite a few tourists that want to get away from the city experience of Thailand. Mae Sariang is very close to the Burma border and is a rural settlement in Thailand.
The economy there runs on rice fields and whatever tourism income it gets. Other than the general slow-paced life and the beautiful greenery of the village, it is a real good look into the way traditional Thailand still lives.
Bo Kaeo Pine Forest
The Bo Kaeo is a stop on the way kind of place. It is a forest lined with fully grown pines. There are mud trails through these lines that pose very picturesquely. Other than seeing the pines, there isn’t much else to do here so if you are planning to visit, plan it along with other activities in the area.
Ob Luang National Park
The Ob Luang National Park is another national park in the Chiang Mai region. It has an immensely carved limestone mountain, canyons, and a curvy river flowing through it all. The most breathtaking sight that everyone who has traveled through this park is the river flowing through the canyon.
Ob Luang Gorge
The Ob Luang National Park has a river running through the entire length of it. “Ob Luang” in Thai means canyon or gorge. The river in a particular place called the Ob Luang Gorge is forced to flow through a small rock formation canyon. This is one of the most unforgettable sights of the entire Ob Luang National Park.
Mae Sariang, Karen Village
Most of the hill tribes of Thailand and their people are very isolated from the cities of Thailand. However, some of the tribal people have opened up their villages to tourists so that they can see how they live and what their lives entail. Karen Village is one of them. It is a very rich cultural experience and there is a lot of information and tradition to soak in but this is not something everyone is likely to enjoy.
Mae Sariang Trekking
Mae Sariang is a small town that is surrounded by mountains and rich rice fields, the town itself is small but has many nature trails around it that nature-loving traveler will enjoy to the fullest.
There are well-marked trails and it is advisable to stick to those for the ones that aren’t can be dangerous.
Wat Phra That Si Chom Thong
The Wat Phra That Si Chom Thong temple is a very important temple in Northern Thailand. It is atop a hill and has an aerial view of the little villages. The temple is a Buddhist relic because it is believed that Buddha himself visited the hill once, now where the temple is. The temple also has a meditation center.
Wat Jong Sung and Wat Si Bunruang
Wat Jong Sung and Wat Si Bunruang in Mae Sariang are two temples that are built adjacent to each other. Both of these great temples are built in traditional Thai style and date back to the 1800s. And this peaceful realm of Buddhist culture, the Mae Sariang Loop ends in the very place it began; Mae Sariang.
Any traveler who travels the Mae Sariang Loop will have had the most authentic Thailand experience having seen the best of Thailand’s nature and culture. All the National Parks in the loop are globally acclaimed centers of excellent nature reserves, flora, and fauna. This, the Mae Sariang Loop, is the ultimate Thailand experience.