Mon Chaem and the mountainous Samoeng Loop
A scenic day trip outside of Chiang Mai
Samoeng Loop complete trips
I scooted the 100km ‘Samoeng loop’ twice within the space of a month in 2019. On the first trip I accompanied a friend who was filming content for his YouTube channel. We scooted out towards Mae Rim to the Xtreme Sports Centre so he could perform a Bungee Jump. The loop consists of steep roads through the mountains and breathtaking scenery. Furthermore, there are viewpoints, remote temples and agricultural activity. The second trip coincided with my Uncles visit to Chiang Mai. On this occasion we started from the western side of the city and finished the circuit at Mae Rim. Read more on this particular trip below.
Samoeng Loop places of interest
I previously joined my girlfriends family on a trip to Mon Chaem in their Isuzu pick-up, a short drive off the main loop. Mon Chaem is a mountaintop farming community within the ranges of Doi Pui and Doi Suthep. We drove up steep roads to a viewpoint at a Strawberry farm where locally grown fruit and traditional gifts were being sold. The weather was misty and temperate meaning the views across the mountains and National Park were obscured. Nevertheless, the route through the mountains to Mon Chaem was fascinating. On the descent from Mon Chaem we visited a northern Thai themed restaurant. I’d been wanting to try northern dishes and indeed found them flavoursome and delicious.
Visiting Mon Chaem again with my Uncle, we explored further roads around the settlement. As I had recently purchased a scooter, some of the hills were a measure of its ability to carry two people. We started the day at Wat Phra That Doi Kham before taking a morning coffee break on the Samoeng loop. Later, we stopped close to Samoeng for lunch ordering much welcomed warm noodle soups as the rain continued. After several afternoon scenery stops, we reached Mae Rim around 4pm. My highlights include experiencing Hill Tribe villages around Mon Chaem and seeing four elephants ambling roadside.
Wat Phra That Doi Kham (Golden Mountain Temple)
When viewed from afar, the temple is a magnificently commanding landmark in the mountains. I first came here with my girlfriend in 2018 and walked up the Gold Naga Staircase to observe the fantastic structures. Like Wat Phra Doi Suthep there are towering Buddhas; a 17 metre sitting Buddha and a reclining Buddha. Further sites at Wat Phra That Doi Kham include ancient and modern looking Chedis. On the approach there were stores selling an array of items from traditional food to traditional dress and more.
My second visit was more spontaneous as the weather on the day was extremely rainy. The road leading to the temple is steep and was slippery so my Uncle and I weighed up the risk. You can walk up to the temple, however, we decided to take the chance of driving. Scooting up slowly was straightforward, yet coming down was a little more hair raising. Considering Wat Phra That Doi Kham’s close proximity to Chiang Mai city, the views were fantastic. Due to the weather, we ended up peering through the clouds which created an unusual spectacle. My Uncle was keen to learn about the abundance of history in Theravada Buddhist temples here and throughout his trip.
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