A short wet Top End tour!

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by Chiang_Mai_Martin, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. Disclaimer: Please bear in mind this report was originally written for a non motorcycle enthusiast forum so please read it with that in mind and forgive me any errors/amateurish reporting which I know a lot of you GT Riders will pick up on! :smile1:

    Just back from doing a short 3 day trip up to the "Top End" which was great fun, even though most of it was in the rain! I had to do a recce for our bike club's annual December tour to check out a couple of hotels, so started off on Wednesday 12th on my Electra Glide Ultra Classic with an English buddy Mark on a hired Kawasaki Versys.

    I was looking for a hotel on the 107 somewhere near Fang or Mae Ai...... on the day itself we'll have come from Mae Hong Son which will be about 350km..... not too far but a hell of a lot of twisty bits and hairpins...... we'll probably be a bit knackered so I don't want to give the guys 'n' gals a long 500 or 600km day!

    We picked a hole in the very wet weather north Thailand has been experiencing over the last month....... yes I know it's the tail end of the rainy season but there's also been an unusual depression over the area giving us days on end of continuous drizzle....... a bit like being back in Blighty!

    Route 107 heading north out of Chiang Mai is a well travelled dual carriageway with long sweeping bends through the low hills so a busy road but great fun on bikes...... plenty of opportunity to crank the beast over and get rid of chicken strips on the tyres!

    We found a very nice clean motel type place in Fang for 600 baht/night so organised stuff with the Manager, paid a deposit and headed off again...... now we were into the scenic high hills and mountains! We took the 1234 to Doi Mae Salong which has a heavy Chinese influence, it's a great tea producing area and we saw many of the hill tribe workers out on the terraces picking tea, and shops drying it on mats out front. This route took about 90 minutes and is terrific, all twisty bits and awesome scenery. We stopped for lunch at the Flower Hill Resort, then headed further east onto Highway 1 which took us all the way up to Mae Sai and the Burmese border. This is a major trading point and border crossing, not very pretty so we just took a couple of snaps and headed off over toward the Golden Triangle.

    In recent years the Golden Triangle has gone from being a very sleepy beautiful riverside stop-off to see the famous riverside triangle of Thailand, Burma and Laos with some lovely rustic wooden buildings to a very gaudy area with many statues of all things Thai, so I'll post some pics and you decide if you like it or not! I don't but I'm a grumpy old school fart who doesn't like change, loves the natural countryside and don't mind telling people!

    Our destination that first day was the Viang Yonok Resort: http://viangyonok.com/en-GB/
    which is right on the lake at Chiang Saen, run by an Englishman Ian and his wife of 25 years Jim. Ian is a British Classic Bike enthusiast and very knowledgeable about biking the "Top End"..... I'd met him on the Golden Triangle Riders forum so was looking forward to meeting him face to face, having a good old chinwag about bikes and local routes and staying at their gorgeous resort. Ian and Jim are terrific hosts and their resort is beautiful..... gorgeous and exclusively decorated bungalows overlooking the lake with superb attention to detail..... very very nice indeed. Jim's mother is head chef and the fayre she produces is excellent, including the Full Monty English breakfast!

    Criteria for the next day was: find a resort on the river at Chiang Khong for the bike club overnighter in December (we would've stayed at the Viang Yonok but Ian will be in Laos on an organised tour with a bunch of guys riding Royal Enfields!), ride the "must do" route 1155 along the Lao border and hit Chiang Rai for the night! The fact that it rained all bloody day didn't dampen spirits much but severely restricted viewing the beautiful countryside we splashed and skidded through!

    I was searching for the brilliant old style wooden hotel on the river in Chiang Khong, the Ruan Thai Sophaphun Resort: http://retireearlyli...guest_house.htm I had previously spoken to Taksin Chinawatr’s friend K Sophaphun who own the Resort (it's bang opposite the Tammila) but someone on a forum said it had fallen into disrepair of late and wasn’t worth staying there. We spoke to the manager at Tammila who wasn’t interested in taking our booking at all, and as we left I saw an army of chippies at work in the Ruen Thai, so we went in and spoke to the manager there, had a good look around, and booked it! Beautiful rustic wooden place, she told me all the re-furb will be finished in about 6 weeks or so.

    We then took one wrong turn and ended way up on the Mekhong river where the road ends at Khangpadai...... you literally cannot go further!....... back-tracked and enjoyed a great ride on the 1155 which winds through, up and over the hills between two mountain ranges from Chiang Khong down to Thoeng..... an awesome ride but such a shame about the rain as we really couldn't see much....... maybe some of you would like to post your pics of that route on this thread just to show the scenery off? From Thoeng you have a lovely sweeping route, the 1020 which takes you into Chiang Rai so we splashed in and stopped at the first hotel we saw....... we were absolutely drenched and just wanted to park up, dry off and have a beer or six!

    Chiang Rai does have a few bars with a few girls...... we found 'em, we had fun and what happens on the road stays on the road! Just head for the Paradise Bar and enjoy the attention there! Good to meet a whole bunch of like-minded bikers in there that evening!

    Yesterday...... pissing with rain again! We took the 118 direct route from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai, another lovely sweeping curvy ride through beautiful countryside....... December will be hot and dry so I know the guys 'n' gals in the bike club will thoroughly enjoy the whole ride.... a shame it was wet for our ride but hadn't really expected much different considering the time of year..... in just 3 days Mark and I rode some of the most stunning countryside North Thailand has to offer, we both got back safe and sound smiling from ear to ear..... we're Brit bikers, we enjoy being on the road and a bit of the bloody wet stuff aint gonna dampen our fun!

    Enjoy the pics!

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  3. And, some more pics!

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  4. This is how I remember and loved the Golden Triangle...... from 2004 trip.

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  5. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Good stuff and respect for getting out there during the rainy season!
  6. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer


    Where is this? Mae Salong?

    I think it's a great time of year to be out and about, due to the beautiful greenery, but I think you were a bit unlucky with timing. It rained for 3 days here when you dropped in.

  7. Hi Ian, yep, Mae Salong. That's the view from the restaurant at the Chinese "Flower Hill Resort" http://www.maesalongflowerhills.com/
    The food is unfortunately very bland (Chinese chef?) but the views make up for it!
    Here's the area in May 2009:

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