Chiang Mai to Mae Sot: A Bike Touring Route

route-Chiangmaitomaesot.jpgThis bike touring route from Chiang Mai to Mae Sot is for the hill lovers.

Although the initial run out of Chiang Mai is gentle, the hills quickly appear as you turn towards the Burmese border and the leg from Mae Sariang to Mae Salit Luang could bring the unprepared to tears.

On the upside, the scenery is stunning and you get an up-close look at many hilltribe people in an area that sees few tourists. Mae Sot is a fascinating border town, with a mix of ethnicities to observe.

Note: We cycled this route in the summer but other cyclists tell us that it’s not good to go this way at the start of the year (January / February), when the farmers are burning their fields to get the land ready for the next season.

The landscape in this period of the year is quite awful. Everything is burning and the atmosphere is full of smoke so you cannot see very far. After 100 km we started to be sick, so we took a bus. -Laetitia and Sebastien

Distance: 440km
Duration: 5-6 Days
Terrain: Only for those with steel thighs! Although it starts out gently, this is not a newbie ride. The hills are tough and distances long.
Accomodation: Guesthouses but also a few chances to camp if you have a tent.
Highlights: Hilltribes in a completely untouristy setting. You’ll see many people out in traditional dress, collecting wood or plants, working in the fields or just smoking a pipe by the side of the road.
Lowlights: Very tough terrain in some parts.
Tips: Buy some peanut butter in Chiang Mai. It makes super energy food for the hills if you spread it on crackers or fruit.

Section 1 – Chiang Mai to Hot (70km)
Buddha's right cheek is kept hereIt’s an easy run from Chiang Mai to Hot, starting out on a flat road heading southwest, which slopes downhill about 60km down the road. Traffic is busy coming out of Chiang Mai but you’ve always got a good shoulder so it’s not a big worry. Chom Thong is a good place to stop for lunch and there’s a Tesco Lotus here if you want to stock up. Don’t forget to check out Wat Phra That Si Chom Thong Wora Wihan, where the right cheek of Buddha is kept. In Hot, signs mark the way to the P.P. Garden Hotel, where you can have your own chalet for 400 Baht. It’s a bit steep but they are nicely decorated, very clean and come with cable TV and air conditioning. The other option is to shorten tomorrow’s ride by turning right at the roundabout and continuing on 18km to the park entrance, where there’s a hotel.

Section 2 – Hot to Mae Sariang (105km)
Beautiful terraces This is a tough day, even if you’ve already got good biking legs. The day starts easily enough with a gentle descent alongside a river but the hills start at the entrance to the national park (18km) and don’t stop until you’re nearly to Mae Sariang. Aside from the hotel at the park entrance, there is no formal accommodation along this route. A steady climb leads from the gates of the Op Luang National Park to the turnoff to Omkoi. It’s a mixed bag of rising and falling hills for the following 50km. Mercifully, the last 18km into Mae Sariang are all downhill.

There are many hotels to choose from in Mae Sariang. The basic Lotus Hotel in the town centre could use a lick of paint but it’s got clean fan rooms with cold shower from 200 Baht, while the Y.T.M. Hotel (3km along tomorrow’s route towards Tak) advertises free camping, rooms and a restaurant serving ‘healthy food’ and tea. There are a few more hotels downhill towards the river.

The best food experience in town is a buffet restaurant on the main street, just a short walk from the Lotus Hotel. From a distance it looks like a night market but it’s actually an all-you-can-eat buffet with meat, vegetables, dips, fruit, ice cream and much more. There’s even a make-your-own som tam stand! Who could resist at just 109 Baht a person? Obviously not the locals because the place is packed in the evening. This restaurant is a starving cyclist’s dream. Look for the big yellow ’99’ sign.

Section 3 – Mae Sariang to Mae Ngao National Park (45km)
It’s a short but challenging ride to the Mae Ngao national park, where you’ll find the only formal accommodation in the area. The ride out of Mae Sariang starts out gently but you’re soon climbing over a series of hills, the toughest of which will have all but the toughest and lightest cyclists pushing. It lasts a couple kilometers before finally topping out at kilometer marker 196. From here it’s a quick run down to the gates of the National Park, where a large sign marks the left turn into the park. It’s a further 4km of up and down to the park entrance. There you can have your choice of camping or a bed for the night, both with cold showers. The park isn’t very busy so in the off season you might have it all to yourself! We weren’t asked for any money by the park rangers, who seemed ecstatic just to have visitors at all. Although you might still have some energy when you reach the national park, it’s best not to push on. Rest instead before a long run tomorrow.

Section 4 – Mae Ngao National Park to Mae Salit Luang (80km)
Beautiful mountainsIf you thought the run from Hot to Mae Sariang was difficult, it pales in comparison to today’s hills. The only consolation is that trees line the route so even on a sunny day you should be able to climb mostly in the shade and the views are stunning at times, when you get a glimpse of the surrounding landscape through the jungle. Keep plenty of snacks on board and enough food for a meal or two. There are no restaurants and only a couple shops on the way. Road condition is generally okay but broken up in parts. The last few kilometers into Mae Salit Luang are in very good shape.

Kick the day off by retracing your steps to the main road, where the ascent starts almost immediately. Snap up any sugar-loaded food you can find at the shops, while the local hill tribe folk look on in amazement. The road climbs steadily and after about 10km you pass through a village. There is no store on the main road but possibly one in the village, set a little to one side. By this point your mind starts to hope the climb is nearly done but it’s not so. Occasionally there’s a dip but the road jerks back up again at an impossibly steep angle. Expect lots of pushing.

Another village appears a few kilometers further on. At this point, you are still going up and down like a yo-yo past rice fields, banana trees and the occasional farmer. Your thighs will be burning. It’s not until your odometer reads about 35km (including the distance from the national park to the main road) that things start to look up. A police checkpoint sits to the left of the road, with two smiling cops who are happy to fill your water bottles. If you can’t bear to pedal another inch, these guys would definitely give you tent space on the grassy patch of lawn next to their post.

The good news is that now the road does start to fall. A few climbs remain but nothing too severe. The worst is definitely over as you shed lots of height. Even if it’s afternoon by the time you reach the smiling police station (we didn’t get there until about 2pm), you can still reach Mae Salit Luang by dark.

After 25km of mostly downhill sailing and reaching a new section of smooth-as-silk road, there’s another police station at the junction for Wat Mongkhon Khiri Khet and a small crossing into Myanmar. Here yet another friendly cop ran to the fridge to get cold water for our bottles. Those Thai policemen are very nice to hot and sweaty cyclists!

The last 22km are mercifully easy. You glide downhill for much of the way and the ascents are gentle. Often there’s enough downhill momentum to propel you up the next hill. As you reach Mae Salit Luang, the Per-Pron Resort is signed to the right. Go down the steep driveway and claim your riverside bungalow with ensuite bathroom, balcony and a view of Myanmar for 250 Baht. Alternatively, next door is the highway department with a picnic area and toilets. They may let you pitch a tent if you ask nicely.

There are shops a further 700 meters on in the town. They close around 6pm and don’t have much but they do have cold beer! And well deserved it is too after your efforts. In the morning, ladies sell goodies like banana chips, homemade donuts, sticky rice and fried meats in the town centre. A slightly better selection of shops, a gas station and even a restaurant can be found if you go another kilometer to the turnoff for Mae Moei National Park. There’s also a health centre just past the junction, where we got antibiotics for an ear infection. Minimal English is spoken. Good to know if you need it.

Section 5 – Mae Salit Luang to Mae Sot (116km)
You don’t have to do this all in one day but accommodation options do tend to be clustered at either end, with not a lot between the two. The road has a few rolling hills but nothing to get you out of the saddle until a short climb around 69km into the day.

The first place to stay is the BP Resort, a series of chalets around a pond, 30km from Mae Salit Luang. Just a kilometer further is a brand new guesthouse. Soon afterwards you pass the turnoff for Tha Song Yang and there are no restaurants or shops from this point for a good while until you start to approach the Mae La refugee camp for people from Myanmar and the town of Mae Ramat.

The refugee camp is quite stunning in its size and may shock you if you’ve never seen anything like this before. Apparently 43,000 people live inside in huts that climb up the steep cliffs.

In Mae Ramat there are a few restaurants to choose from and stalls selling fruit and fast food. Things thin out a little bit between here and Mae Sot, although the road gets bigger and busier. There’s still a good shoulder so the cycling remains comfortable. The only hotel between this stretch that we found was the Ruean USA Resort, which looks very swish and definitely not in the budget category. Put on your best black-tie cycling gear before asking for a room.

It’s just as easy to carry onto Mae Sot by this point, only a further 10km down the road.


  1. David Trench
    28th May 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    About to take this on, thank you for posting a great route description

  2. Rachel K
    12th January 2012 at 7:28 am #

    This is amazing! You’re totally talked me into it with this description 😀

  3. Tara
    15th January 2012 at 11:01 am #

    I am planning to do this route but have recently read an advisory from the government of Canada to “avoid all non-essential travel” to the Burmese border areas of Tak and Mae Hong Son provinces of Thailand. I guess this has to do with the border conflict that escalated in 2010. Anybody have any recent information?

  4. Jeff
    8th October 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    Sorry this is late.
    Re your note about the timing of this trip.
    i agree that you should avoid the “burning season” when farnmers burn the fields and everyone else burns anything and everything they can. The air quality is absolutely terrible and unhealthy.
    However, the burning usually starts in late February, March is the worst, and it lasts until the rains start in early April. This is all over northern Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. Obviously, the seasonal burning is a weather dependent event and can vary from year to year.
    But January and early February might actually be the best time to go — cool evenings, dry days, and relatively good air quality.

  5. Robert
    18th December 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Just finished 70 days in Myanmar. Leaving north from Mae Sot towards Mae Hong Son, Pai, Chiang Mai, etc tomorrow morning. Thanks for the info.

  6. Jamie vickers
    14th February 2015 at 3:34 am #

    great information! I’m in Mae Sot now. Arrived yesterday from Tak.
    Heading north from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and decided to cut west a Tek after reading about the refugee camps around Mae Ramat interested in seeing. Seemed easy enough at first but I had no idea what I was getting my self into after that first day. Entire day of uphill climbing up to where I found a hill tribe market. Seems that was about the peak. Camped that evening with a hill tribe family. Such wonderful people. Was difficult climb but that evening made it all worth it. Next day was down and up mostly down hill defending into Mae Sot.
    Yesterday afternoon Found a decent guest house in Mae Sot called Green Guest House. Rooms range from 230 – 150b as of February 2015. In case anyone is interested. Figuring out now my options for heading north east to Chiang Mai. Have about a week to spare before I need to be in CM. But a little nervous of the hills to come.
    So this post has been most helpful! Thankyou!

  7. Aaron
    24th August 2017 at 8:58 am #

    Sounds amazing! Wondering if going in the opposite direction would solve the climbing issues (getting transport to Mae Sot and heding back to Chiang Mai). Is it a more or less constant incline, or is it up and down the whole way?

  8. Accophyxwyr
    11th November 2021 at 11:48 pm #

  9. Accophylaxn
    21st November 2021 at 6:41 pm #

  10. live4d2u
    11th November 2022 at 6:32 pm #

    I really like and appreciate your article. Awesome.

  11. mp3
    26th November 2022 at 1:10 am #

    I love reading through a post that will make people think. Also, thank you for allowing for me to comment.

  12. Tubidy
    1st December 2022 at 2:13 am #

    I enjoy looking through a post that can make people think. Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment.

  13. sumber daya tambahan
    29th December 2022 at 2:46 am #

    May I simply just say what a relief to uncover someone that actually understands what they’re discussing online. You certainly understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people ought to check this out and understand this side of the story. I can’t believe you aren’t more popular because you certainly possess the gift.

    2nd May 2023 at 8:09 am #

    dissertation assistance dissertation help service


  16. egr valve diaphragm
    10th May 2023 at 9:24 am #

    Thanks so much for the post. Will read on…

  17. life-altering designs
    10th May 2023 at 11:46 am #

    Thank you, I’ve just been searching for information about this topic for agesand yours is the best I’ve found out till now. However, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you certain in regards tothe supply?

  18. Kate Nicholls
    14th May 2023 at 2:43 am #

    ivermectin india ivermectin paste for humans

  19. vinfast ha noi
    18th May 2023 at 7:23 am #

    Sie gedeiht in den Raupen bestimmter Schmetterlingsarten

  20. treretept
    22nd May 2023 at 11:12 pm #

    A largepercentage of Israeli Jews are Arab cialis for sale in usa

  21. Reformistas multiservicios
    29th May 2023 at 11:04 pm #

    Gacijy – pre algebra homework Thmdmk inzdzo

  22. Reformas de pisos madrid
    31st May 2023 at 10:25 pm #

    Some genuinely excellent information, Sword lily I detected blog great skin

  23. Fasterners
    2nd June 2023 at 9:17 pm #

    Im obliged for the article. Awesome.

  24. Sua nha
    8th June 2023 at 7:06 pm #

    That is a good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.

  25. visit
    9th June 2023 at 11:22 am #

    This blog is definitely cool and also informative. I have chosen a lot of useful things out of it. I ad love to go back again soon. Thanks a lot!

  26. computer vision
    10th June 2023 at 10:01 pm #

    thank you!lamborghini huracanfaucet bot for win more!!!! faucet bot for win more!!!!

  27. Debbie Coleman
    11th June 2023 at 6:56 am #

    essay maker service write an argument essay healthcare service essay

  28. info Link Lumi777 Slot
    15th June 2023 at 9:00 am #

    By far among one of the most knowledge packed blogs I have actually discovered.

  29. Tabitha Read
    21st June 2023 at 3:31 am #

    I really like looking through a post that will make men and women think. Also, many thanks for allowing for me to comment.

  30. párty stany jicín
    21st June 2023 at 12:17 pm #

    You’re thus amazing. Oh my God. Jesus bless you.

  31. ant Exterminator Boise
    4th July 2023 at 6:10 pm #

    Xem Thẳng Viettel Vs Bình Dương Trên V League 2021 Ở Kênh Nào? m88Đội tuyển chọn nước Việt Nam chỉ muốn một kết quả hòa có bàn thắng để lần thứ hai góp mặt trên World Cup futsal. Nhưng, nhằm làm được điều này

  32. Lucius Savage
    5th July 2023 at 1:59 pm #

    Like the characteristics of most Amoy brothers,

  33. Carlton Anderson
    9th July 2023 at 8:49 am #

    shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed

  34. List of Names
    16th July 2023 at 1:25 pm #

    TWITCHING LURE REVIEWSEureka Dunes — Evening Light

  35. Frank Shah
    20th July 2023 at 10:50 pm #

    The sport is a great blend of tower-defense and 3rd-human being shooter.2 Player Games – Free Play Two Player Game – Best Games2 player games

  36. Barbie Pettay
    12th August 2023 at 10:27 pm #

    You will marvel how effortlessly you can obtain your job done when utilizing this.

  37. lop on thi cap chung chi khai hai quan
    14th August 2023 at 8:10 am #

    Xoilac Tv Thẳng Soccer ty le bong daĐội tuyển chọn futsal nước Việt Nam đã có một trận đấu đồng ý được trước đối thủ cạnh tranh đầy mức độ mạnh Lebanon. Kết trái Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu vs Bình Phước ngày hôm nay 18h00 ngày 5/5, Hạng nhất Việt Nam.

  38. Tran Amaker
    14th August 2023 at 7:01 pm #

    Your life will certainly never coincide hereafter!

  39. Kirstie Mondok
    11th October 2023 at 12:19 am #

    Your message addressed vital concerns and also resolved typical false impressions concerning the topic.

  40. Hmall
    30th November 2023 at 6:13 am #

    I cannot thank you enough for the post. Keep writing.

  41. hzgiantway
    12th December 2023 at 10:21 pm #

    Enjoyed every bit of your blog.Much thanks again. Awesome.

  42. ai generator
    27th December 2023 at 1:24 am #

    I value the post. Great.

  43. 2bhk flat in gurgaon
    2nd January 2024 at 5:21 am #

    I cannot thank you enough for the blog.Much thanks again. Great.

  44. linetogel
    29th January 2024 at 11:27 pm #

    Splendid, excellent work

  45. Cable labeling machine
    24th February 2024 at 4:22 am #

    Thank you ever so for you blog post. Much obliged.

  46. hot air tray dryer
    30th April 2024 at 11:21 pm #

    Looking forward to reading more. Great blog. Want more.

  47. nsfw ai chat
    18th May 2024 at 6:38 pm #

    Thanks a lot for the blog post. Much obliged.

  48. 160kw dc charger
    29th May 2024 at 3:55 am #

    I really enjoy the blog post. Really Cool.

  49. Perya Game
    31st May 2024 at 12:40 pm #

    Looking forward to reading more. Great blog.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

  50. ai voice over generator
    1st June 2024 at 10:00 am #

    I cannot thank you enough for the blog. Great.

Leave a comment