From Chiang Mai, the route goes north on Highway 107, following the Mae Hong Son loop at first. After 56km, on the right, there is an elephant training center that puts on logging shows every day at 9am and 10am (June-April: THB40). It’s a trap for tourists, though. You’d be better off going to a similar place near Lampang that doesn’t get as much attention.
Chiang Dao is a big market village that goes on and on along the road for about 72 km. On the left side of the road, the cliffs and forests of the mountain that the village is named for come into view. Before the road goes down to the flat plain around Fang and the Kok River, it goes over a rocky ridge that separates the watersheds of the Chao Phraya River to the south and the Mekhong River to the north.
The Crocodile Dundee Guest House at the end of the main street makes the ugly frontier town of Fang, which is 153 km from Chiang Mai, more appealing. The wooden house has clean, simple rooms that cost B50 for a single person and B80 for a double. The owner, who is friendly and knows a lot about the area west of town, leads treks and dirt-bike trips there.
If you’re traveling by bike, you can cut east 5 km before Fang on Highway 109 to get to Chiang Rai (125 km), but you’ll miss the beautiful Kok valley and it won’t be easy because much of it is not paved.