CM-Phayao - Chiang Kham - Nan - Doi Pukha - Phrae - CM

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by madjbs, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. madjbs

    madjbs Ol'Timer

    I have finally got round to uploading my trip pics. I wrote these for a different Thai forum so apologise if they are a bit patronising for GT riders. I used this site for info so I just want to post something back.

    We decided we wanted to drive over to Nan via Chiang Kham and do the Doi Phuka loop. We would then return by a mountain route to Phrae and back to CM.

    As usual starting from Chiang Mai so a trip to a temple was in order before going on the tour in order to make merit for a safe passage (apparently). This time we had a look around Wat Suan Dok.

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  3. madjbs

    madjbs Ol'Timer

    First day of the trip was CM to Phayao. You take the 118 north out of CM. The road is generally busy and quite wide, there is a few nice bits though with sweeping corners through little hilly outcrops where you can get some speed up.

    Here are some of the better bits
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    The real fun for the day starts 65km out of CM at Mae Khachan. Here you need to take a right turn along route 120, after passing through Wang Nua the road starts to go into the hills and jungle. Along the way there are a few waterfalls to keep you entertained. The road was getting re-done last time I was there so watch out for gravel and trucks

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    Just before you leave the hills you get to a viewpoint which looks over Phayao, stop here and get a pic and some snacks. The road from here down to Phayao is simply fantastic, newly paved and like a racetrack!

    A little bit foggy today
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    From the junction with highway 1 it’s a quick blast north into Phayao. The best value hotel in Phayao is the Thong Tharn hotel, cheap and you get a really nice clean room with A/C, fridge, TV. Ask for a room in the back building on a high floor.

    Watch out for trucks like this one
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    The lake at Phayao, there is many nice bars and food places along the lake front
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  4. madjbs

    madjbs Ol'Timer

    Ok, on to day three of the trip.

    Today was going to be a fairly long day, all the way from Phayao to Nan but via Chiang Kham, that works out at just 250km but on small windy roads it is hard work!

    The First section of the trip is driving to Chiang Kham along route 1021, nothing particularly interesting along here except quite a few police blocks. The road is generally straight and quite busy as it passes through low farm land.

    When you arrive in Chiang Kham you should stop for lunch as the next section is lacking in food stops. There is a nice little food place right in the center called something like Good Food Place. When you get on your way remember to fill the bikes with petrol.

    The next part of the trip is the fun part, take route 1148 south east out of Chiang Kham and just keep on going all the way to Tha Wang Pha. The road is great and you go over a couple of mountain passes and through areas of dense jungle. Last time I was there some of it was rather burnt though. The road is generally small and windy and uses all your energy.

    Sweeping bends make great biking roads
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    Unfortunately some of the trees were looking rather crispy
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    Anyone know what they are growing here?
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    A friend putting his good Kharma into practice
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    Lots of fruit trucks about as you drop down into the valley.
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    Once you reach Tha Wang Pha its a blast along route 1080 all the way to Nan. The road is good for biking but is normally quite busy so take care.

    In Nan one of the better hotels is the Dhevaraj Hotel, for 600 baht you get a nice room with A/C, TV, hot water and a fridge, there is also a buffet breakfast.It is in the center of town and there is a big sign on top of the hotel (it might be in Thai, can't remember) so it is easy to find. Two very good food spots are a farang food place and a Thai food place right next to each other, above them is also a bar. I really can't remember the names of them or what street they are on, anyone here know?
     
  5. madjbs

    madjbs Ol'Timer

    Ok now for the highlight of the trip, the Doi Phuka Loop.

    After testing the beer in Nan it was never going to be an early start, in the end we must have set off early afternoon.

    The first part of the trip involves taking the 1080 again back to Tha Wang Pha. Once you reach the very start of the dual carriage way take a right to go up the 1170, it is easy to miss so keep your eyes open. Carry on along here for a while and you come to another road called the 1080 (the 1080 seems to go in a big loop). Take a left here and drive for about 12km, you want to take the 1256 which goes over Doi Phuka, it joins in the middle of a little village and looks inconspicuous so don't miss it, If you get to the gas station on the right you have gone to far.

    Once you start along the 1256 just carry on going up! There is lots of nice views and the road is small and windy, great for taking it easy riding. It gets quite cold at the top so you might want to take a jumper, it makes a change being able to get a good lungful of clean, fresh air as well.

    Stopping for a rest on the road up Doi Phuka
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    Nice Views
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    This is the same place as the cover of the GT Rider guide, a lot more burnt though!
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    Eventually you get to the top of the road section, there is a national park that you can enter if you want but as it was foggy we passed, they said 20baht each so it seems they are not bothered about trying to charge the 400.

    On the way down, the road is slightly bigger and also great for biking.
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    When you reach the bottom you reach this village and a T junction
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    To go back to Nan you need to turn right on the 1081, from here there is a short section of windy road and then you reach what is possibly the greatest stretch of biking road in the entire country!

    Great views and hairpins
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    Race Race Race
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    If you have a fast bike its very tempting to really rag it! Be careful though because at the end of the race course section you have a short section of dirt track. This isn't the place for testing your street bike at 150kph on a gravel road, do that where there is a hospital nearby.
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    After the dirt track the road goes small and windy, lots of nice sections in the trees and interesting views. There is virtually no other traffic here so you can test your cornering skills.

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    The motley crew
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    Eventually you reach the end of the 1081 where it meets the 1169, turn left here and head back to Nan for more beer testing.
     
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Good stuff. Glad you too found the Doi Phukha loop - what I rate as North Thailand's most spectacular ride & road.
    Thanks for contributing.
     
  7. madjbs

    madjbs Ol'Timer

    No problem! I will try to write them quicker next time, I see from Capt. Slash that some of the roads I went on have improved greatly since I was last there.
     
  8. madjbs

    madjbs Ol'Timer

    This trip was last songkran, so it really has taken me a long time to put up the report :oops:
     

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