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Visa Run To Mae Sai ... Want To Stop In Mae Salong On Return Leg


lambethgal

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We are making a visa run from Chiang Mai to Mae Sai later this week and I would like to stop in Mae Salong on the way back. Does anyone know how to get from Mae Sai to Mae Salong by car? How long does it take? What are the roads like? Would it be easier to go to Chiang Rai first?

Also, how long would it take to get back to Chiang Mai from Mae Salong? Would we have to go via Chiang Rai?

Any advice greatly appreciated, thanks!

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About 30 km south from Mae-Sai, on the main Route 1, is Pasang/Bosang where you turn right at traffic-lights onto Route 1130, a 2-lane paved road which leads up into the mountains. Mae Salong is about 40 km from the main road.

If you miss that turn then continue another few km to Mae Chan, where you take Route 1089 west-wards, it runs up a long valley for 30 km. Reaching a police check-point, you turn right 5 metres before the barriers, onto a 2-lane road which reaches Mae Salong after 15 km.

Continuing past that checkpoint, on Route 1089, would instead bring you via Tha-Ton, Mae Ai, Fang, Chai Prakarn, Chiang Dao & Mae Taeng eventually to Chiang Mai. Takes about 4 hours.

Both routes up to Mae Salong are very scenic, but you should take extreme care on the very steep hills, 1st/2nd-gear stuff here ! The roads tend to run along the tops of the mountain-ridges as you near Mae Salong, which is also sometimes called Santikhiri, with long steep drops on one/both sides ! :o

There's a thread on the Chiang Rai forum, I think it's called 'Mae Salong Happenings', which mentions accommodation & attractions actually up there. Beautiful place and well worth visiting IMHO. :D

The GT-Rider 'Golden Triangle Loop' map, for people touring by motorbike, is excellent and shows many smaller made-up/unmade roads/tracks throughout the area. It covers the whole journey from Chiang Mai northwards.

Enjoy the trip ! :D

Edited by Ricardo
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Thanks for the info, very helpful indeed. I have purchased the GT Rider map as suggested and it looks very comprehensive!

Just one more thing though ... once at Mae Salong, which route do you think would be faster and easier for getting back to Chiang Mai? It would seem to be a shame to go back the same way, but we have a toddler so getting home quickly is a major consideration too.

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Sawasdee Khrup, Khun Lambethgal,

I think Ricardo's reply really covered everything, the only point I would emphasize would be to think about the time of day when you start down from Mae Salong to come back to Chiang Mai. You've got many kilometers of steep mountain roads to descend; I think they are best descended (or ascended) with plenty of sunlight left on the clock. And I'd make sure my brakes are in tip-top condition.

Once you come down, passing Fang, then the road to Chai Prakarn, you have a fairly straight shot back to Chiang Mai, passing through Chiang Dao, but the road will be two-lane most of the way, and as you come nearer Chiang Mai heavily travelled (depending on day and time of day/night, of course). I am personally "allergic" to highway driving at night, particularly after a long day of travel, but my guess is you are younger, and your eyes are stronger than mine :o

Hope your journey is everything you wish for.

~o:37;

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We are making a visa run from Chiang Mai to Mae Sai later this week and I would like to stop in Mae Salong on the way back. Does anyone know how to get from Mae Sai to Mae Salong by car? How long does it take? What are the roads like? Would it be easier to go to Chiang Rai first?

Also, how long would it take to get back to Chiang Mai from Mae Salong? Would we have to go via Chiang Rai?

Any advice greatly appreciated, thanks!

No just come straight dpwn thru Fang.

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Thanks for the info, very helpful indeed. I have purchased the GT Rider map as suggested and it looks very comprehensive!

Just one more thing though ... once at Mae Salong, which route do you think would be faster and easier for getting back to Chiang Mai? It would seem to be a shame to go back the same way, but we have a toddler so getting home quickly is a major consideration too.

I think it's fairly even-stevens from Mae Salong, which way you come back, so go up to Mae Sai via Chiang Rai, then back the other way ?

I'm usually on the local red-fan or green-a/c buses, which can sometimes have a problem passing heavily-laden trucks, climbing through the mountains , and there are also a couple of police check-points, as the Fang/Chiang Dao route is the nearest main-road to the border, so they tend to control the hill-tribe peoples' paperwork. But I also find it slightly more attractive, than the road from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, both are good !

Your youngster might enjoy the caves at Chiang Dao, or elephant-camp at Mae-Taeng, to break the journey ? Or since you're in a car, stop to see the orange-groves, and a drink of fresh O.J., north of Tha-Ton, and watch out for the old oil-pump (nodding-donkey) near Fang, there's plenty to see along the way ? The aroma of a pick-up laden high with garlic, as you pass it, is something out-of-the-ordinary too !

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One of the car rental companies, Budget I think publish a series of guides called great drives of the world or similar. They do one that covers this area and specifically the Doi Mae Salong, Doi Tung area. Sure a quick google will find a copy.

Followed it a few years back. The route from Mae Salong to Doi Tung was particularly interesting but you need time and patience so wouldn't reccomend for your trip. This guide would give you useful information for parts of your route though.

Enjoy, Doi Mae Salong is one of my favourite places to visit!

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Thanks for all the info and feedback. Our trip went very smoothly - the drive from Mae Sai to Mae Salong took around 1 hour and 15 minutes via R1 and then 1170.

The scenery was great ... except for the smoke and scorched earth from widespread burning. We stayed in a bungalow at the Little Home Guesthouse in Mae Salong, a really cozy and friendly place.

The drive back the next day via Thaton, Fang and Chiang Dao took around 3 and a half hours.

Overall, this was a very manageable itinerary with a 22 month-old!

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Thanks for all the info and feedback. Our trip went very smoothly - the drive from Mae Sai to Mae Salong took around 1 hour and 15 minutes via R1 and then 1170.

The scenery was great ... except for the smoke and scorched earth from widespread burning. We stayed in a bungalow at the Little Home Guesthouse in Mae Salong, a really cozy and friendly place.

The drive back the next day via Thaton, Fang and Chiang Dao took around 3 and a half hours.

Overall, this was a very manageable itinerary with a 22 month-old!

Just for your info if you take this trip again there is a bye pass road at both Chiang Dao and Fang which saves you some time. I travel from Chiang Mai to Thaton at least twice a month and it only takes me 2 1/2 hours.

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