On the motorbike making a loop in Northern Thailand
A great motorbike trip I made in February 2013 from Khon Kaen to Lampang and Chiang Mai, then from there up north to the Thai-Burmese border and then via Chiang Rai to the Thai-Lao border area to follow the border south in direction of Dan Sai and Loei to ride back to Khon Kaen again. A 7 day trip of in total 2170km, covering the area of the old Lanna Kingdom, Burmese settlements, former Chinese KMT strong-holds and beautiful national parks. A wide variety of culture and landscape. Most roads were in good condition, some roads were in bad condition and some stretches were not roads at all. Culture-wise I did find the area north of Chiang Dao the most interesting, a place to come back!
Day 1 : From Khon Kaen to Lampang (530km)
The beginning of my tours is almost always the same, first via route 12 to Chumpae and Lomsok and then a bit in direction of Phitsanulok. Then half way I took a right turn to route 2013 in direction of Nakhon Thai. This as I do not like to ride all highways and it is an beautiful country side route with good roads and not much traffic. Then from Nakhon Thai via route 1143 to Uttaradit from where I took route 11 to Lampang. Route 11 is for the most part a divided highway and in very good condition.
Lampang is still the little sleeping provincial town, although there is now also an Central Plaza shopping mall. In the evening I had dinner at "Riverside" restaurant. And I did stay overnight at "Baan Chiang Rai", a new guesthouse/hotel in the city centre of Lampang.
Day 2 : To Chiang Mai via Chea Son National Park (160km)
The next day I did wake-up early and left Lampang in northern direction via route 1157 in direction of "Chae Son" national park. Actually I did not really took route 1157, but the small country side roads along route 1157. An amazing beautiful country side with rice paddies, Lanna style temples and simple village life. Forgotten by most tourists and the real Thailand.
Then I took route 1252 thru the beautiful mountains of Chae Son National Park. Again an amazing beautiful (and good) road thru an beautiful landscape of north Thailand. Half way I stopped and did sit for a moment on a few big stones along the road. All alone ... just the sound of wind and birds.
|Relaxing with a great view at Chae Son National Park|
Day 3 : To Doi Ang Khang (280km)
Again I left very early in the morning and did exit Chiang Mai via route 107 to Chiang Dao. Just after Chiang Dao I took a left turn for route 1178 and at Mae Jo I took a left for route 1322 to ride all the way to the Burmese border at Lak Teng.
|Border Control Unit|
|Burmese style graves along the road|
|Thai Immigration Office|
At Lin Luang I went again to the Burmese border at at Kiew Pha Wok. Border closed! Again an u-turn and back to Arunathai to take route 1340 & 1249 to Doi Ang Khang. Here I did stay overnight at "Ang Khang Villa".
|Hill tribe market|
|Flowers at the Royal Project|
I did wake-up very early, even if it was only because someone thought it was a good idea at 5 in the morning to fire a 5000-fire-cracker next to my room! So I left in the early morning fog and did ride back to the view-point where I was the day before. Many people joined there to watch the sunrise.
Then I did ride back via route 1249 to route 107 & 1089 to ride in direction of Doi Mae Salong (a former Chinese KMT strong-hold). Halfway I passed Tha Ton and had breakfast at "Tha Ton Hill Resort" with a great view over the valley of Tha Ton. At Tha Ton you cross the Mae Nam Kok that leads to Chiang Rai and it is still a famous point to take a small boat to travel to Chiang Rai by Kok boat.
|Boats at the Mae Nam Kok (going to Chiang Rai)|
|Breakfast at "Tha Ton Hill Resort"|
|A beautiful small valley|
|Twisty roads again!|
|More Burmese style graves|
Day 5 : To Song Kwae (275km)
Again at dawn I left Chiang Rai via route 1233, 1173, 1152 to Payamenrai and Ta to go a little bit north via route 1020. This to take an un-numberd route between route 1020 and route 1155 as short-cut over Doi Phaya. This route is not on all maps and even my Garmin GPS thinks it is an trail, but it is an good road that goes right thru an beautiful mountains area. With amazing steep and twisty roads. I loved it! Too bad that at the most spectacular moments the roads were too steep to stop and take an photo.
|Karsten mountains just outside Chiang Rai|
|Does this road look like a trail?|
After the short-cut I took a left turn on route 1155 in direction Pang Hat to take route 1093 south again to pass Rom Fah Siam and Phu Chi Fah.
|Lunch along the way in a old Chinese settlement|
|Great place for early dinner|
So I did wake-up very early and left first to check-out the locale Lao-Thai border area, just 20km north of Song Kwae. This road goes right into the mountains and with the morning fog hanging in the valley it was an very beautiful trip. But a bit foggy on the visor when heading down.
|Just 8km from the Thai-Lao border market|
Where on my GPS the road did end, actually a all new road did start. And I followed the new road .... wrong I should have gone to the right there. So back again and take the correct turn to the border-market area. Then the road asphalt did disappear and the road turned into a very wide trail with gravel and stones. And after a few KM I decided that this was not a good road for a 210kg bike and an rider alone in the middle of nowhere. So I made an u-turn and did ride back to route 1148. And just after Song Kwae there is an left turn to Chiang Klang via route 1097 from where I followed route 1080 to Chalerm Prakiat and the international Thai-Lao border of Huai Khon. This most the the oil-pipeline to Laos as the I passed dozens of oil-truck heading to the border.
|International border between Thailand and Laos|
|Valley leading to Bo Klua, rice paddies everywhere!|
Again at dawn and fog I started to ride following route 1081 in direction of Santisuk and took route 1225 to Mae Charim. A beautiful ride in the foggy mountains. Beautiful nature but not much culture anymore.
|View in the early morning from my little resort in Bo Klua|
And then via some short-cuts I did ride to Wang Sa and then route 1026 to Na Noi. Then following route 1083 and 1123 to route 1047 and route 1268 to Ban Khok and Na Heao. And then route 2113 to Dan Sai, where I did stay overnight at "Phu Na Come Resort". All good twisty roads and with beautiful view. Only between Na Heao and Dan Sai was a stretch of 5km road construction, where some dude tried to push me of the road.
Day 8 : To Khon Kaen (270km)
The end of the trips are also always the same, from Dan Sai via route 203 to Lom Sak and then via route 12 to Chumpae and then Khon Kaen. Of course again passing "race circuit Nam Nao". As usual I made a drink stop at the PTT gasoline station just before Chumpae. It has been long riding days with all the detours I made and with the many very bad roads that I did encounter. Actually a bit too much and I am happy to be back home again. Home sweet home!