Chiang Mai to Bangkok : Train vs Ride

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by Ducatillon, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. Ducatillon

    Ducatillon Ol'Timer

    Hi everyone,

    I will be picking up my bike from Chiang Mai this Friday and I am debating whether

    -I should load the bike on train in CM, fly back to Bangkok and meet my mike in the morning at the train station in Bangkok


    -take a ride back from CM to Bangkok. Leave early morning on Saturday, spend the night somewhere on the way back to Bangkok and hopefully arrive in Bangkok on Sunday evening.

    Is the ride from CM to BKK a good one? Would you recommend it? If you do, any suggestions on which roads to take?

    Cheers and enjoy the day!
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  3. danwhite

    danwhite Ol'Timer

    Unless you have time to take the road via Mae Sariang and Mae Sot and then on to Tak, take the train if you can. The CM-BKK drive is very boring. Taking Route 11 via Phitsanulok rather than heading straight down Route 1 is mildly more interesting... But still very, very boring. Route 1 (particularly after Chainat heading north) is also in very bad shape.... Also driving into Bangkok from the north is misery. Better to take the train and save the rides for the better places.
  4. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    I have ridden from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in 5 Hours taking the Main Route so it isn't a Big Deal? It is a pretty Boring straight Run though once You are past Lampang? If You want to make an overnight Trip of it You could go to Loei then to Bangkok or there are multiple options depending on How far You want to travel?
    If You want to take Your time down the Direct way stay the night in Nakhon Sawan at the "Pimarn Hotel" Walk out the Back of this Hotel and there is a variety of entertainment, Restaurant over Water, Country style Pub and a Disco Upstairs! Brilliant Venue with Live Bands in each and Loads of Service Staff!Next day You will have a mere 2 or 3 Hour Ride into Bangers!
    You have a New Bike so I would Rather Ride it than Risk having it Damaged on the Train before You even get to Ride it!!!
  5. danwhite

    danwhite Ol'Timer

    Via Loei is a great ride both from Chiang Mai, and then to Bangkok on Route 21, and it can bring you out at the north side of Khao Yai which means good views and good rides all the way pretty much, and means you can come into Bangkok on the 304 which is the best entrance road. .... But is a huge detour. Like you nearly double the distance. He would have driven virtually from CM to Udon before turning south.... Not a 2 day ride unless you drive like a nutter and have no time to enjoy any of it. A good 3 or 4 day ride for sure.

    If worried about damage to the bike on the train (although I have put it on about 30 times over the years, on all lines and never had damage to the bike), watch them load it. Watch them tie it up and make sure it is secure. Then give them 400 baht each to keep it shiny. It the will then be shiny and you can head to the restaurant car for a bit of thom yam goong.

    If stopping Nakhon Sawan there are some serviced apartments on the left as you enter town ( ... rch_area=1). 400 baht. Good parking, restaurant and wifi. If stopping in Ayuthaya (best bet since its beautiful) stay at the Chantana Guest House ( ... ya/all/312).... Good parking and locked gate.
  6. Ducatillon

    Ducatillon Ol'Timer

    Ian and Dan, thank you very much for your comments. Very much appreciated.

    Here is what I am thinking now;

    Leave CM around Friday early afternoon and ride until around sunset. Stay somewhere nice and go to bed early. Hit the road again on Saturday early morning and ride all day, again until around sunset. Sunday - same thing, start early and arrive in Bangkok early afternoon.

    So what would be your "best route to Bangkok" this way? 2 nights hotel, 2,5 days ride. :happy1:

  7. danwhite

    danwhite Ol'Timer

    "So what would be your "best route to Bangkok" this way? 2 nights hotel, 2,5 days ride."

    2 and 1/2 days?

    Heading via Mae Sot. Maybe try and get to Mae Sariang first night. The next take time from Mae Saraiang top Mae Sot. Its worth it. It is one of the most beautiful roads in Asia.... Slow in any case obviously since it follows the Burma border and the Salween. It’s a beauty. Then stay one night in Mae Sot or Tak depending on how early you started.

    Last day.... Just welly it down the freeway from Tak to BKK.

    Heading the other way. First night in Lampang , Phistanulok, or even Sukhothai (get up at dawn for the temples). Next day head east on Highway 12 to Lomsak, Petchebun, area..... You then have options of how much of that that area you can explore. National park and good resorts and hills around Lomsak area at the top of Highway 21 and heading on east up towards Loei, Dansai and Chiang Khan region. DON’T stay a night in Petchebun unless you can help it. Main hotel doubles up as trucker-hooker-karaoke and is loud until 4am and it’s a shitpit. Stay in Lomsak or resort in the hills nearby. Next day head down 21. That veers west off heading west to the junction around Saraaburi area (I don't have a map to hand now... But that area), but you can carry on due south (from Chai Badan) on small roads towards area west of pakchong through Muak Lek. This takes you on small roads through rice paddies and hills. You can then stay one night in a resort on the Pakchong-Kaho Yai road (2090 I think). Beautiful and peaceful and in the hills... Well nearly. Through Khai Yai early morning, across to Prachinburi, Chaechingsao and on to BKK via the 304.....

    One can get from Laos border and Udon to BKK pretty much small roads all the way (bar about 200km south of Lomsak and Petchebun) through hills and countryside.... It’s the nicest way to go, but way outside of your way from CM. I did this a couple of times in May and it takes out the north to south slog. Really nice rides.

    Another way, if you are interested in Thai history is go via Sukhothai one night and Ayuthaya the next with a look at the temples, one set each morning. Boring rides, but great sightseeing.

    Be aware that getting through Bangkok at the end of a long drive is a nightmare…. I always stay one night in Ayuthaya, Kanburi, Nakhon Pathom, Pakchong or Prachinbuuri before taking on the beast…. It can be three or four housr through the city depending on traffic and where you are heading…. If you staying up north of town try and enter via Bang Pha In etc. If Sukhumvit he then the 304....

    And if this is your first time riding in TL.... Take it SLOW at first... Roads are unpredictable. If its not, then you know that anyway ;-)


  8. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    As Ian said, easily doable in a day, but rather tedious.

    This is how I'd do it if a two day ride is desired- CM-Pitsanulok on Highway 11 is a very pleasant ride. Then east on the fantastic highway 12 to Lom Sak and either overnight in sleepy Lom Sak or head south a bit to Petchabun for a wide selection of hotels and great nightlife. Less than 500km. Piece of cake.

    Day 1 Map:,101.15299&sspn=0.007678,0.016512&ie=UTF8&ll=17.471193,99.387817&spn=3.908173,8.453979&z=8

    Day 2 via Khao Yai and the 304 into the city on Ramkamhaeng (or Ram Intra) depending on where you're headed is only ~423 km. If you leave Petchabun early you'll easily beat the afternoon / evening traffic in Bangkok.


    Or, if you want to come into Bangkok from the north and don't mind the rather treacherous Highway 1 / Pahon Yothin it's only ~325km to Don Muang Airport this way:,100.811234&sspn=0.497334,1.056747&ie=UTF8&ll=14.048,100.903931&spn=0.496916,1.056747&z=11

    Good luck and have a great ride!

  9. Ducatillon

    Ducatillon Ol'Timer

    Thanks a lot guys. I will review everything here and come to a conclusion. Without your suggestions it would be far more difficult and I think I'd miss most of the nice places to ride.

  10. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    What bike will you be riding? The type of bike will often influence your choice of roads. FWIW here's a preview of Highway 11 between Lamphun and Den Chai:

    [youtube:nryejkxq] /youtube:nryejkxq]

    And here's a Highway 12 vid-
    [youtube:nryejkxq] /youtube:nryejkxq]

    Fantastic roads for fast bikes. :happy5:

    Ride On!

  11. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Might also be some useful information, took the FJR down today from Hang Dong/CNX to Pattaya. Left home at 09:00 and checked in at the Hotel here at 17:00. Took the diretissima A1 via Lampang-Thoen-Tak-Kampaeng Phet-Nakhon Sawan-Uthai Thani-Singburi and after the first turnoff to Singburi took the next one which brings you around Lopburi and around Saraburi to the turnoff onto the 33 near Nong Khae, continued to Nakorn Nayok, Prachinburi and down the 304/331 to Khao Mai Kaew connecting to the new Superhighway straight into Pattaya.
    Had some smoke rest every 140 kms and every 280km needed to fill up, lunchbreak just near Singburi. Total kms 888, total petrol used 58.7 liters so average consumption 6.6 liters per 100 kms.
    Road condition: Chiang Mai to Lampang, very good condition, Lampang to Thoen as a general precaution, please stay away from the left lanes as they are completely rutted by heavy overloaded trucks and you can get into a wobble if not careful at high speeds. Between Thoen and 30 kms before Tak big road rebuilding is going on so you have only either right or left road to use which is dangerous as big potholes all over, also quick patch-up repairs won't do your back any good; was lifted off the seat several times.
    Between Tak and Kampaeng Phet road in Bkk direction is so-so, no high speeds commended as partly bumpy. Northbound lanes have been repaired recently so ok. Nakhon Sawan down to Singburi, high speed motorway.........and this should stay so down to Bangkok, usually traffic congestion starts near Ayuthaya.
    For anyone wanting to follow the road I took from Lopburi down to Pattaya, ringroad around Lopburi is in a sad state also the one around Saraburi as masses of Cement trucks do the asphalt no good. Short distance from Nong Khae to Nakorn Nayok should also be treated with care.
    police checks: about 4, never been stopped just politely waved on with a grin.......
    And yes, this road is boring but I do this trip at least 5 times a year on any bike and this for the last 10 years, so I got used to it, for me it's the shortest and most hasslefree connection between A and B.
    Cheers, Franz
  12. strumpan

    strumpan New Member

    There is another possibility.
    Go to Nan over Phayao and turn right over a national park after about 10 km at atraffic light,that saves about 40 km and the road is much nicer. In Nan go south to Wiengsa and continue to Nanoi where you take off east direction Lao border. You will pass Ban Khok and follow the border aroun the "corner" to Na Haeo. Take off to Lomsak and continue south. After Phetchabun it is not so interesting any more, just transport but before that you will have some really nice roads with beautiful nature along the road.
    I have no map with me but you can see what roads I mean on your map.
    Per Nystrom
  13. danwhite

    danwhite Ol'Timer

    Chiang Mai - BKK via Nan?........ Interesting idea......Not quite sure of the point of that..... Ho Hum....... Um.....OK
  14. Ducatillon

    Ducatillon Ol'Timer

    I will be riding an ER6N.

    Thank you everyone for your input. Very helpful!
  15. danwhite

    danwhite Ol'Timer

    @Per Nystrom

    Just took another look at your Nan route on the map..... I see what you are getting at.... That takes in some really nice roads both across the north and then heading south close to the north/Isan junction area with all that amazing scenery..... It's also economic on mileage and time...... And then you can STILL take route 21 down and drop down to Muak Lek.... What a great route...... Will try it soon. I know all those roads but never put them altogether as a CM-BKK route.....

    Thanks for that..... Sometimes GT-Rider really does have its uses.


  16. helenk

    helenk Ol'Timer

    This is an interesting post as we will be riding up from Bangkok in mid December. We haven't done the journey for 5 years on the bike but usually go on Highway 1 and make it as far as Sukhothai the first night then onto CM for lunchtime on the second day. It's pretty easy but the first day is pretty dull although you can really eat up the miles. Might consider an alternative route as per your suggestions. Getting the map out at the weekend.

    If you are coming into Bangkok and not familair with the road system and have no GPS it can be pretty hard as Central Bangkok is not signposted. It takes practise to get that right.
  17. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Just an update on the reverse route Pattaya-Prachinburi-Lopburi-Nakhon Sawan-Tak-Lampang-CNX. Had to ride up today as I'm suffering from a bad flu. So took me again not more than 8 hours although the traffic today was much worse than on Monday. Same kilometers but a little more petrol as eastern & central Thailand today had a strong north-easterly wind blowing and of course it's all the way "uphill". Today had not even one police check-point manned on my way up. Because of my condition made much more stops as usual to fill myself up with some Sponsor/Gatorade electrolytes. Road from Pattaya all the way to HW1 was not in a bad condition, just the Lopburi bypass and some parts on the 33 from Nakorn Nayok to Hin Kong were bumpy. The worst part and for most of it was Nakhon Sawan to Kampaeng Phet, the northbound lane is even worse than the southbound one. then again half way between Tak and Thoen although I got the feeling that the highway department just opened a repaired part somewhere between Tue to Thu this week as the good tarmac covers already half the way. Overtook as usual some trucks and pick-ups with HD's and BMW's on them for the HISO guys flying up to CNX bike week and showing off in town on straight roads......Didn't see many bikes on my route as obviously most turned in Nakwan to Pichit-Philoke-Denchai direction. Overtook loads of HD's then on the final part Lampang-CNX. One thing that pissed me off, neither of BMW or HD guys gave me as much as a nod while passing them and greeting them for all to I can save this exercise for good. Met 4 young Thai guys in Tak at a traffic light, their vehicles: 3 CBR150's and one Phantom, must admit they made good progress and were all smiles when I talked to them, coming from the Big Smog and going all the way up to the bike week at the Mae Ping.......

    As a general comment on the diretissima Bangkok to Chiang Mai, road is in an average good condition, traffic is not that heavy after Angthong, petrol pumps are spaced plentiful, only Tak-Thoen-Lampang should be treated more carefully as pumps are only in the vincinity of these towns. Food & Beverage is plenty and everywhere. Policestops are mainly done between Lampang - Thoen (1), Thoen - Tak (1) and one between Kampaeng Phet and Nakhon Sawan. These are permanent ones but very polite staff there. Mainly they only check in Bangkok direction and that's for day-times, at night I'm sure there are more as everyone can see on the roadside some piled up gates and the orange-white PVC marker-cones.
    For me this road is not for pleasure so I don't give it a second thought on taking pictures because there's not much worth fotografing.
    A word of warning, Bangkok to Nakhon Sawan is a superhighway, that means loads of traffic and therefor not much of our 4-legged friends on them, things get a little bit hairy on the upper part where the highway parted villages so loads of locals on Waves criss-crossing wherever you don't expect them and the carnage of bloated dog bodies should be ample warning to watch out for them. The last part from the first Lamphun intersection to CNX should be treated with utmost care especially morning 07:00-09:00 and evening 17:00-19:00 as during that time there's shiftchanges in both the Northern Industrial as in the Saha Group Estate. Plenty of slowmoving traffic and you will have to half your throttle positions in a second.
    Hope that helps some, rgds, FR
  18. daveg

    daveg New Member

    Good info on road conditions. I'm a total Thailand rider noob and am a bit intimidated by the laws forbidding motos on overpasses and tollroads.

    I hope to have my moto delivered to me from the port to my hotel so I'll start my ride from the Silom part of central BKK. What route do ya'll usually take to get out of the city?

    If I tell google maps to avoid tolls it takes me out of the city via Kanchanaphisek (route 9). Is that a fair road for motos?

    I'm pretty excited to finally get my moto after waiting 2 months. It did give me time to study a little Thai.
  19. danwhite

    danwhite Ol'Timer

    Just took the suggested Nan route back from CM (having driven up via the Mae Sot MHS route)....

    It's a great way to go. You get the road from CM to Phayao and then the classic 1091 to Nan. Nan itself is wonderful. The road south from Nan is superb and winds for miles and miles through the hills.... and the hills continue virtually all the way Petchebun. Don't miss the 1083 due south of Nan and left a bit at Na Noi. There are a few ways to go but this road is a beauty.

    Once on Route 21 it is the best main north south route.... In good shape and very little traffic with hills either side. This does come with a caveat.... Saraburi and the Khorat highway is an eternal nightmare so get off it before you hit the cement truck hell. Drop right to take the small roads to Ayuthaya.... Or drop left at Chai Badan and head through the small hills and villages to Muak Lek and the north side of Kha Yai.... You can welly it down the Korat highway to BKK if you choose, but it is one of the nastiest thoroughfares in Asia and is a nasty end to a decent ride.
  20. John Aero

    John Aero Ol'Timer

    Tony this is certainly an "involved" forum going by the amount of input into this! I am after some delay moving up from BKK to CNX in next week or so - my first long bike ride in Thailand. I liked your route but knowing how roads change here would you know if it is still a good one in respect to road condition etc? Also where would you aim for an over night stop - would either leave BKK midday (yes not preferred) or early morning?


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