The Samoeng loop is a 100 km round trip starting and ending in Chiang Mai (Northern Thailand). It’s a nice and easy ride with great views of the Mae Sa Valley that everybody can (and should) do on their own. It’s easy to navigate, the road conditions are good all the way (just watch out for the occasional pothole), it has some amazing scenery and is just a short ride out of the city.
The Samoeng Loop consists of roads 107, 1096, 1269 and 108 and you can do it in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction. Most of the people do it anticlockwise (start from Chiang Mai via road 107 and return via road 108). You can get the GT Rider’s Samoeng Loop map at most bike rental shops and bookstores in Chiang Mai, but I just used a printed small map that I got at the bike rental shop. It can be done in two to three hours if you don’t really stop much, but it’s better to plan a bit more time.
Fill your motorbike up in Chiang Mai or Mae Rim (gas gets a bit more expensive later on). You will need a little more than one full tank for the whole trip (on a 110ccm scooter).
Attractions on the way
Shortly after Chiang Mai you reach the town of Mae Rim where you soon make a turn for the 1096 and right after the numerous attractions start. You are constantly bombed with signs for snake, monkey, elephant, insect and orchid farms. Luckily, this is over in ~20 minutes, when the Mae Sa Valley starts and the road becomes more steep and everything around it lush and green.
Tiger Kingdom is also on the way (in Mae Rim), but I don’t really support visiting such parks, because no matter how much they assure that the tigers are not drugged, I don’t believe it. Especially after talking with other travelers that have visited the park. All of them agreed that it was a mistake and that the whole vibe there is totally off.
Mae Sa waterfalls
Soon after the start of Mae Sa Valley are the ten Mae Sa waterfalls, the first stop on my way.
I’ve walked to all ten of them and I could really see only three. I don’t know how they counted ten, because some are merely a river stream. And really, don’t even bother going further than the seventh waterfall, because there’s nothing there.
Otherwise the whole park area is nice, with a lot of picnic spots which seem quite popular with the locals. Plenty of them sitting around and cooling themselves in the river.
Further on to Samoeng and back
As you follow the steep and winding road (1096 and later change to 1269 for Samoeng) you are witness to many spectacular views of the Mae Sa Valley and the villages and there’s plenty of opportunities to make some detours and ride around the villages.
There is very little traffic on 1096 and 1296 and turn after turn, distance and time pass quickly and you reach Samoeng in no time. I drove a little further on and around the villages for a while and stopped in Samoeng on my way back for a short break and to get something to eat before heading back towards Chiang Main on roads 1296 and 108.
I took my time at the Mae Sa waterfalls, made a few stops on the way for the views, had something to eat in Samoeng and it took me a bit more than five hours.
The Samoeng loop is great, but bear in mind that it should be done primarily for the ride through the beautiful countryside and hill roads and not for the attractions and stops on the way.
For additional info on the Samoeng loop and other motorbike trips around Northern Thailand visit www.gt-rider.com