Mae Wang (Thai: แม่วาง, mâe-waang) loop leads the traveler through the beautiful Mae Wang River Valley located in the national park of the same name. The journey begins in San Pa Tong, which is about 18 km from Chiang Mai and easily accessible by road. The Mae Wang Loop is one of those loops in Northern Thailand that gives the traveler an authentic Thai view of the world and an insight into the local people’s way of life.
For travelers who plan to take this loop by motorcycle or car, it will be especially enjoyable because there are paved good roads along the entire route. The Mae Wang Loop is slightly longer than the Samoeng Loop and passes through landmarks of importance to Thai heritage and culture.
This route offers many breathtaking views along the way and passes through many small towns and villages that will leave the traveler with a lasting impression of Thai identity.
Mae Wang Loop also takes the traveler through Mae Wang National Park, beautiful temples, elephant camps and wildlife sanctuaries and many other interesting stops along the way.
Here are a few places that are attractions and must-visits on this route!
Most of the roads around the Mae Wang Loop border or pass through Mae Wang National Park. The National Park covers the areas of Pa Mae Cham, Pa Mae Khan-Mae Wang, and Pa Chom Thong, which is about 700 square kilometers.
In general, the topography of the national park is rather mountainous and rocky, with many large valleys. Because of the rocky terrain, there are many waterfalls and rock formations in the national park, which add to the majesty of the area.
Mae Wang National Park is special because it has five different forest types: mixed deciduous forest, dry dipterocarp forest, mixed dry dipterocarp forest, mountain evergreen forest, and mountain pine forest. The difference between these different types of forest can be seen in some places that are visible to the naked, untrained eye. This is the best place to be one with nature and one of the most tranquil places in Thailand.
It is also home to many Thai wildlife, so it is advisable to consult a local resident or guide before venturing into the forest and jungle areas on your own.
Khun Wang is a very popular tourist spot among foreign and local tourists because it is famous for its cherry blossoms. Contrary to popular belief, sakura grows not only in Japan but also in Thailand. When in full bloom, which can be seen in these places, these vicinity views are unparalleled as their scenic beauty and appearance are striking. The best time to visit this place is from late December to early February, when the wild Himalayan cherry blossoms are at their most lush.
In 2022, for the first time in Thailand, white sakura trees bloomed here, thousands of which were planted 5-6 years ago as part of the Royal Conservation Project for local nature.
It is also home to an agricultural research center. Chiang Mai Royal agricultural Research Center Khun Wang is not only a tourist spot and home to the cherry blossom trees that everyone loves. It is also an agricultural research area where scientists are working to offer local farmers an alternative to the conventional opium plantations that were actively cultivated in these areas decades ago. Research also covers crop life extension, product quality, new varieties, etc.
The pink cherry blossoms are generally thought to be the work of the Japanese, but this is not the case. Sakura trees grow and grow naturally in most Asian countries. The Khun Wang Royal Project area is one of those places where the cherry blossoms bloom in abundance, leaving travelers with a pleasant sight they won’t be able to forget.
On a trip through the Mae Wang Loop, the Khun Wang Royal Project is a place everyone should visit.
Doi Inthanon – is the tallest mountain in Thailand with occasional snowfall.
Mae Sapok Falls is a small but beautiful waterfall deep in Mae Wang National Park. It is an adventure to get there. Although many people prefer to reach the falls by car, many rent bicycles or motorcycles to cover most of the distance and then walk to the foot of the falls.
On the way to Mae Sapok Falls is the iconic wooden bridge. This bridge is a very popular spot for Instagram photos and adds to the aesthetics of the waterfall and this route. There is also a small temple, Wat Mae Sapok, on the way to the waterfall. Wat Mae Sapok is less visited than other famous Buddhist sites in Northern Thailand, but what it lacks in popularity it makes up for in tranquility and beauty.
Mae Sapok Falls is a great place to kick off your boots and relax. The many pools around the waterfall are great places to swim and cool off.
Mae Wang Falls is part of Mae Wang National Park and one of the stops on the Mae Wang Loop. It is an one-stage waterfall, about 10 meters wide and 20 meters high, which is a very scenic sight.
Mae Wang Falls, because of its height and width, is an ideal place for bathing tourists. The view is very relaxing and enjoyed by many locals. More adventurous travelers can climb to the top of the waterfall. But be careful not to slip on the rocks.
Mae Wang Falls is adjacent to many other waterfalls that are also located in the national park. All waterfalls in the vicinity of Mae Wang are very close and all of them can be visited at once. The waterfalls near this place are Pha Moen Waterfall, Pha Deang Waterfall, Mae Phui Waterfall, Maeng Ang Waterfall, and Pha Duk Deang Waterfall.
Mae Wang Falls is a very popular tourist spot among local tourists, so it can be crowded during peak season.
Mae Wang Elephant Camp is very well known as a tourist spot on the Mae Wang Loop. The Mae Wang Elephant Camp provides tourists and animal lovers a safe environment to interact with these cute giants. The camp also offers informative classes on how to interact, communicate and be around elephants.
Interaction with elephants can be as extensive as campers see fit. Some elephants allow you to ride them, while others allow you to swim in the ponds. In addition to the elephants, the camp is also known for its hikes and treks through the grounds, which can last for hours and end at the observation deck. Hikes require appropriate footwear and it is advisable to go with a guide. Although you can do without one, it is always best to have someone with you who knows the local area.
The locals at the camp cook authentic Thai food for visitors and are very famous for their culinary knowledge. Mae Wang Elephant Camp is an elephant sanctuary in Mae Wang National Park, home to over a hundred Asian elephants. Tourists especially enjoy bathing the elephants, taking them around the reserve, and feeding the elephants their favorite edible plants.
One of the activities on the Mae Wang Loop is rafting, which is carried out on the Mae Wang River of the same name. Rafting in this part of the world is different because the rafts are made of bamboo, not rubber. The bamboo rafts give the whole experience an authentic and very natural feel. Rafting can be done with or without a guide, but it is recommended to raft with a guide for safety reasons.
During tourist season this place gets crowded, so be sure to make reservations before you go. Each raft can be booked for about 500 baht and each raft can accommodate up to three people plus a guide.
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.
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.
You can make this route part of the Mae Hong Son Loop journey.
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.
This special four-direction standing Buddha is a must-visit attraction if you are in the area. Wat Doi Sapphanyu is located at Huay Niam, Chiang Mai. It used to be an abandoned temple named Bo Tib Temple (Nam Bo Thip). In the year 1994, Phra Ratcharat Rattanakorn, the former abbot of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and a few others joined together to restore this abandoned temple and made it an active temple again.
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.