The Mae Wang loop takes the traveler up and through the beautiful Mae Wang River valley. It starts in San Pa Tong, which is about 18km away from Chiang Mai and easily accessible by road. The Mae Wang Loop is one of those loops that give the traveler a true Thai perspective of the world and a valuable insight into their way of life.
For travelers that are planning to do this Loop by motorcycle or car, it’s especially pleasurable because the entire route has tarred roads. The Mae Wang Loop is slightly longer than the Samoeng Loop and goes through sights of importance to the Thai heritage and culture.
The road around the Loop offers many breathtaking views along the way and goes through many little towns and villages that will leave the traveler with an everlasting impression of the Thai identity.
The Mae Wang Loop also takes the traveler through the Mae Wang National Park, beautiful temples, wildlife camps, and many other interesting stops along the way.
Here are a bunch of places that are points of interest and must-visit destinations along the route!
Mae Wang National Park
Most of the roads around the Mae Wang Loop border or go through the Mae Wang National Park. The Mae Wang National Park covers the area of Pa Mae Cham, Pa Mae Khan-Mae Wang, and Pa Chomthong making it about 700 square kilometers.
The general terrain of the national park is quite mountainous and rocky because of the large valleys that the national park’s area amasses. Because of the rocky terrain, the national park is also home to a large number of waterfalls and rock formations which add to the grandeur of the entire national park.
The Mae Wang National Park is especially special because it houses five different types of forests within itself. The five types of forests that the national park has within itself are; mixed deciduous forest, dry dipterocarp, mixed dry dipterocarp, hill evergreen forest, and pine hill forest. You can generally see the difference between these different types of forests in some parts, which are visible to the naked, untrained eye. It is the best place to get in touch with nature and is one of the most peaceful places in Thailand.
The National Park is also home to a lot of Thai wildlife and it is advised that you consult a local or a guide before venturing into the forested parts of the national park by yourself. The best time to visit the national park is during summer and winter because it can get quite unsafe during the monsoon in Thailand.
Khun Wang Royal Project
Khun Wang is a very popular tourist location among visitors of 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 village are unmatched as their scenic beauty and the sheer look is awe-striking. The best time to visit this place is in January or any of the Thai spring months as the trees bear the most blossoms at this time.
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 village 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.
The sight of these pink Cherry blossoms are usually attributed to being a very Japanese thing, but it is no longer the case. The Cherry blossoms are grown and grow naturally in most Asian countries. The Khun Wang Royal Project grounds is one of those places where the Cherry blossoms bloom in abundance leaving the traveler with a sweet sight that they won’t forget easily.
The Khun Wang Royal Project is not only a tourist destination and a home for the beloved cherry blossom trees. The place is also an agricultural research area where scientists work on providing farmers alternatives to the usual opium plantations. The research also covers how to prolong the life of the crop, quality of produce, etc. If this is a field that interests you, hire a guide. They will be able to walk you through the research and the findings that the scientists work on in the area.
When on the Mae Wang Loop, the Khun Wang Royal Project is a place that everybody should stop.
The Mae Sapok waterfall is a small, but beautiful waterfall deep within the Mae Wang National Park. Getting there is an adventure of its own. While many people prefer to drive to the waterfall, many people hire bikes to cover the majority of the distance and then walk up to the foot of the waterfall.
On the way to the Mae Sapok waterfall, there is an iconic bridge that is there. The bridge is made of horizontal pieces of wood and is a very popular spot for pictures. The bridge adds to the aesthetics of the waterfall and its route. There is also a small temple on the way to the waterfall called the Wat Mae Sapok. Wat Mae Sapok is a lesser-visited temple but what it lacks in popularity, it makes up for in serenity and beauty.
The Mae Sapok waterfall is a nice place to kick off your boots and relax. Many pools around the waterfall can be used for swimming and cooling off.
Mae Wang Waterfall
Mae Wang Waterfall is part of the Mae Wang National Park and one of the stops along the Mae Wang Loop. It is a large one-step waterfall that is about 10 meters wide and 20 meters high and is quite a sight.
The Mae Wang Waterfall, because of its height and width, is the perfect place for tourists to indulge in some swimming. The view of the waterfall is very relaxing and is enjoyed by many locals as well. The more adventurous travelers can take up the hike to the top of the waterfall.
The Mae Wang Waterfall is neighboured by many other waterfalls that also fall in the area of the Mae Wang National Park. All the waterfalls around Mae Wang are quite close by and can all be done in the same visit. The waterfalls near the Mae Wang Waterfall are; Pha Moen Waterfall, Pha Deang waterfall, Mae Phui Waterfall, Maeng Ang Waterfall, and Pha Duk Deang Waterfall.
The Mae Wang waterfall is a very popular tourist destination among foreign and local tourists alike so it has the chance of getting quite crowded during peak season.
There are two ways to get to the waterfall, one is by car and the other is by hiking. A lot of people split the route up to the waterfall into two parts, the bike until close by and then walk the rest of the way.
Mae Wang Elephant Camp
The Mae Wang Elephant Camp is very well known as a tourist destination on the Mae Wang Loop. The Mae Wang Elephant Camp allows tourists and animal enthusiasts a safe environment to interact with these gentle giants. The camp also offers informal classes on how to interact, deal with, and be around elephants.
The interaction with the elephants can be as extensive as the tourists feel fit. Some elephants allow you to ride them and others let you bathe them in the water holes. Apart from the elephants, the camp is also known for its hikes and treks around the property which can take hours and end at a viewpoint. The treks require proper footwear and it is advisable to go on these hikes with a guide. Though you can also go without one, it is always better to have someone with local knowledge along with you.
The locals at the camp cook authentic Thai food for the visitors and are very well known for their food expertise. The Mae Wang Elephant Camp is a sanctuary for the elephants in the Mae Wang National Park and is home to more than a hundred Asian elephants. Tourists particularly enjoy bathing the elephants, taking them around the sanctuary, and also feeding the elephants their favorite plantains.
Mae Wang Bamboo Rafting
One of the not to miss activities on the Mae Wang Loop is river rafting. The river rafting in the Mae Wang Loop is done on the Mae Wang River. The place where the river rafting is done is a crystal, clear, and clean part of the Mae Wang River. The bamboo rafting on Mae Wang River’s crystal clear water will cure you for whatever you got and is one of the most relaxing experiences that Thailand has to offer.
The rafting experience in this part of the world is different because the rafts are not made of rubber, but bamboo. The bamboo rafts add an authentic feel to the entire experience and are very natural. The rafting can be done with and without a guide but it is advisable to do it with one for safety purposes.
The bamboo rafting activity is an activity that should not be missed out on. The rafting is a once in a lifetime experience and is very relaxing and calming. The spot gets overbooked during tourist season so be sure to make bookings before going there. And each raft can be booked at about 500 baht and each raft can take up to three people plus a guide.
Mae Wang Trekking
As with most national parks and forested areas of mountainous Northern Thailand, the Mae Wang Loop also has a lot of treks and trails around it with most of these trails including the iconic waterfalls that the national park houses within its area limits.
Another interesting thing that these treks have in common is the spotting of hill tribe villages. The Northern parts of Thailand are known for its Karen hill-tribe villages and their culture, these treks pose as a good opportunity for the traveler to interact with the original Thai people and understand how their lives are led.
Along many of the trails, it is very common to see a lot of wildlife, most commonly elephants. Trekking in the Mae Wang National Park is a very interesting experience and should not be missed. The sights that the traveler will encounter on this trek are like none other.
It is important to be appropriately dressed for these treks and it is essential to have the correct footwear. Thailand is a tropical country and it’s important to make sure that all your needs are taken care of before getting started on any of these trails. Another important thing is to make sure that you have the help of a local guide because it is very easy to get lost in these parts of Thailand.
The Wat Sapphanyu is a complex temple structure that is built and placed in the middle of a very heavily forested part of Northern Thailand. It is known for its epic architecture and the beautiful views you can experience from the summit of the temple.
The temple has four big statues of Buddha – the most popular of the four is one of which the deity has depicted as sporting a wink. The way to the temple’s summit has a bunch of stairs to climb, but tourists can also get to the temple summit by car or motorbike. The pagodas of the temple are gold and provide an unforgettable sight for all travelers with the summit of the temple cascading a beautiful view of the valley below and the mountains around.
The temple is first hard to reach and is not a very popular tourist destination but for travelers already on the Mae Wang Loop, it is a must-visit site. The temple gets very few visitors and is a welcomed change after the other crowded temples in the Chiang Mai region.