On the motorbike along the famous 1148 from Nan to Chiang Kham

Motorbike Riding in Thailand

Motorbike trip 2017. With the cool season starting any motorbike rider in Thailand will feel the urge to go riding. Now  I have been riding a lot in North-Thailand already and I am always looking for new roads. So where to go? And how long? As I do not like planning I only did answer the first question when leaving home at 6:30 in the cool and foggy morning ..... first day to Chiang Kham via the famous route 1148. For more motorbike trip reports see Motorbike Trip Reports.

Day 1 from Tha Wang Pha to Chiang Kham

As I thought to have an almost full tank of gasoline I did straight hit route 1148 from Tha Wang Pha. While riding to Song Kwae I noticed that I actually had far from an almost full tank of gasoline. So I stopped at the brand new gasoline station just before Song Kwae. Good toilets and even a coffee shop (albeit it was still closed). A bit after Song Kwae I made my first side-track to a waterfall, it was a nice and good road into the mountains, passing a few very small hamlets and with stunning views over a huge valley surrounded by mountains and green trees. But I did never find the waterfall, although according to my GPS I was about 300m from it. Never mind, it was a nice side-track. So I headed back to route 1148 and along the way I stopped at a great viewpoint from where you have a stunning view over the area of Tham Sakoen National Park. In the meanwhile I noticed a lot of wind, more as I have ever seen in Thailand. So much wind that my gloves did fly away (luckily I did find them again). I continued to my second side-track to go to Tham Sakoen National Park, just a few km's of route 1148. The caves are just before the entrance of the National Park (no entrance fee). But be aware a very slippery path up-to a karsten mountain first. Nobody there, no lights also I assume. Yes, you are right I skipped the caves and did ride into the National Park all the way to the beginning of the path to the waterfall. But due to the strong wind I was not allowed to wander into the jungle of falling trees. So after a relaxed stop & chat with the park rangers I did hit route 1148 for breakfast at Phu Lankha.

View over Tham Sakoen National Park in North Thailand

Pha Tham Waterfall at Tham Sakoen National Park in North Thailand

Breakfast at Phu Lanka

Now I had planned to have breakfast at the coffee shop but to strong wind that was closed for safety reasons. But 50m next / lower to it is a restaurant where the locals girls made me a delicious Khao Phad Pak. What I enjoyed with a stunning view while my food was almost flying away.

After late breakfast I did hit route 1148 again to Chiang Kham, but about 20km before Chiang Kham I made a detour with an side-track. It is actually route 4029 to a National Park but halfway there is a road to the left as route 1345 to Chiang Kham (although on the sign it reads Phayao). I followed route 4029 all the way to the closed National Park (but that did not stop me). A few km's before the entrance of the National Park there is a dirt road going to the right to a mountain top from where you have a stunning view over Laos. Route 4029 goes up-to about 1500m above sea-level! And it is mostly an almost brand new road leading nowhere. I love riding this kind of roads in the mountains!
So after the National Park I returned to the intersection with route 1345 and did ride to Chiang Kham where I arrived for a late lunch at Coffee Cafe on the north side of town. Behind this Coffee Shop & Restaurant is December 17, a nice pub & restaurant for in the evening. So I did find me a small and cheap resort (350 THB) within 500m of December 17 Pub & Restaurant.

After lunch I wanted to have my chain cleaned & lubricated so I went into town for a motorbike shop and found GreenWing ... great & friendly service! They did not only cleaned & lubricate the chain but also adjusted it and checked the tyres pressure. Costs? None, just free service. Of course I left a tip for the boys doing the work.

Khao Soi at Coffee Cafe in Chiang Kham - Thailand
Khao Soi at Coffee Cafe in Chiang Kham
Last remains of an old cinema in Chiang Kham
Last remains of an old cinema in Chiang Kham

Day 2 from Chiang Kham to Tha Wang Pha

Waking up the next day I decided to go back to Nan again but with a small detour in the early morning .... via Phu Chia Fa that is. So I left at 6:00 in the morning and took route 4010 & 1093 to Phu Chi Fa where I had a very cold breakfast in the still strong & cold wind. As it was too late for a sunrise over Laos I skipped that. Although it being weekend it was not busy at Phu Chi Fa. Yes it was bloody cold and Thais were dressed like going on a North Pole Expedition.

After breakfast I took route 1155 and route 1021 back to Chiang Kham where I made a pit-stop at the PTT gasoline station for myself and the motorbike. Then I took a straight way back to Nan and stopping again at Phu Lankha. This time the Coffee Shop was open I enjoyed a good hot cacao, although it did still almost fly out my my cup. The area is a bit developing with on the other side now also a viewpoint and the construction of a new building. But still a very nice place to relax and enjoy the view. Nice people working there, sometimes you see an old Hmong lady walking around and making traditional Hmong cloths. While sitting there I decided to make a little detour at the last stretch so at Song Kwae I took route 1097 to Chiang Klang and then route 101 to Pua and Tha Wang Pha. It was a nice day riding again and I arrived home in the afternoon.

Sun climbing over Phu Chi Fa in North Thailand
Sun climbing over Phu Chi Fa in North Thailand