A Top End Meander Chiang Mai- Chang Khong return

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by DavidFL, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. #1 DavidFL, Feb 13, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2016
    Dates: 18 Jan 2013 - 25 Jan 2013.

    The Way:
    1. Chiang Mai - Chiang Dao- Arunothai - Doi Ang Khang - Fang.
    2. Fang - Doi Mae Salong - Thoed Thai
    3. Thoed Thai - Mae Mo - Thoed Thai - Mae Chan - Mae Sai
    4. Mae Sai - GT - Chiang Saen - Chiang Khong
    5. Chiang Khong - Phaya Phipak - Phu Chi Fah - Chiang Khong
    6. Chiang Khong - Houei Xai
    7. Houei Xai - Chiang Khong - Chang Rai
    8. Chiang Rai - Chiang Mai.

    The reason: a gentle ride to check on the sites & maps; & enjoy life on the road.

    DAY 1
    First stop was Arunothai for a bite to eat & drink.
    The Hao Sua restaurant is the cleanest, friendliest place to go


    after a quick kow soi it was onto the magical R1340 headed for Doi Ang Khang & the Sakura blooms.

    There's a neat coffee stop & viewpoint just north of Pha Daeng, that is worth a stop for the views (but sadly not the coffee & coffee mate.)
    The views



    the coffee vendor

    shame about the coffee, but you have to admire the entrepreneurial spirit.

    Approaching Doi Ang Khang some of the Sakura trees were starting to bloom


    Doi Ang Khang was packed with Bangkok city slickers looking to experience the cold mountan air & flowers.
    The car park was full of mini buses, plus 2 or 3 groups of bikes - 10+ riders each - all came in to set up for the night & camp out = brrrh!

    Supposedly the night time temp was just under 10 celsius & something for the concrete jungle dwellers to enthusiastically enjoy.

    Business for the hill tribes was booming selling handicrafts & trinkets


    I cruised on down the hill - R1249 - the main DAK road & spent the night in Fang.
    The Khun Yuw Place was my place of stay


    Dinner was at the Cottage, where the food, service & music is good



    the Cottage is a mature adult night spot, without the delinquent youth crowd & is worth checking out if you think that suits you. (It does me.)

    Next day was off to Thoed Thai via Doi Mae Salong.

    But not before finally catching up to Lao Ta at Lao Ta's Coffee north of Tha Ton.

    Lao Ta is an amazing guy with an amazing history.
    His Lisu Guesthouse 25 years ago was the place to go & hang out with hill tribes, for the adventure backpackers. And in those days it was an authentic experience - the real thing.
    He has since moved on a bit since then - a petrol station plus an aircon coffee shop - but I believe you can still stay in the village.

    Doi Mae Salong was a quick whistlestop


    to say g'day to Mr Ho at Shin Sane, plus Somboon & the Little Home crew.

    Then a treat at Sweet Mae Salong with Tdon & Mee, plus a bit of clowning around

    even Blister, Aka Art turned up to get in the fun.

    More coming....
  2. Heading east out of Doi Mae Salong, there's a nice new viewpoint on the left



    At Akha Sam Yaek you turn left & head north to Thoed Thai & the Myanmar border.
    The Akha Sam Yaek - Thoed Thai road is a beauty to ride, step, winding, swooping & is one of the more exhilarating rides in he North. Check it out if you've never done it!


    Thoed Thai
    is one of my favourite out of the way traditional towns in North Thailand.

    John's Rim Taan Guesthouse

    is looking better than ever after being hit by a flash flood in the wet season 2012.

    I took a quick peak at Khun Sa's old camp /HQs & it too is looking better than ever. More signs, a garden with a stream & small water wheels.
    Atop the hill where they used to keep prisoners in the well, for mis-behaviour (& death?) there are some new trenches. I'm not sure whether these are totally new, or old ones they have dug out again.


    Then it was time to explore a little, out to the Mae Mo & the Myanmar border.
    The road north is still sensational


    The Choui Fong tea gardens were what I was after


  3. #3 DavidFL, Feb 14, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
    The Choui Fong Tea plantation was an eye opener for me...




    A massive plantation right on the Myanmar border & breathtakingly beautiful @ 1,200 metres.


    Some research on the plantation has turned up this info

    They even have accommodation out there & maybe its not such a bad spot for a romantic night with a sweet companion.

    The road is a bit narrow, & maybe a little daunting for some. It is a narrow steep & winding track, with the steepest section concrete, but quite doable if you take your time.
    Some phone photos of the road in...




    Turn off 2.5 kms west of the R4032 Mae Mo / Phayaprai road junction.
    GPS Waypoint: N20 19.557 E99 36.997
    From the turn off it is 1.5 kms in to the tea plantation HQs.
    Check it out, it is well worth it & a true hidden gem of North Thailand / The Golden Triangle.
    Recommend spend a night in Thoed Thai at John's Rim Taan Guesthouse if you want to come out here. Dont rush, take your time, potter around & learn something as you go.
  4. Back on the way out


    I spied an interesting looking chedi on a hill not far from the road & went to check it out.

    Wat Phra Cha Rik Ban Mo (?)



    The temple was still under going construction, but there was an impressive LED lighted Buddha in the chapel.

    all a bit surreal in this extremely poor, remote village on the Burma border, I thought.

    Then a monk rocked up to say hello & have a chat.


    as heavily tattooed as I've ever seen a monk, or anyone for that matter.

    He was from Sakhon Nakhon, had only been at the temple for a month and was the ONLY monk there.
    No doubt a real interesting character, if you had more time to hang around & chat.

    Mae Sai was my destination for the night & the next day Chiang Khong, my old favourite yet again.

    R1129 Chiang Saen - Chiang Khong late afternoon in the golden light.

  5. The purpose of the over night in Chiang Khong was to meet up with the Snail & Scotty 007 in the Kingdom on their holidays.
    And the master plan was for a photo shoot on the big dipper road R4018 - The Phaya Phipak road.
    However due to a lengthy breakfast & trivial chit chat about exactly what to do, which way to go, we did not get away until late.
    So it all ended up a bit of a rush.

    However we did get a few nice piccies on the amazing R4018.

    Heading off at the start - the west R1020 end.


    The Thu Long Thang viewpoint



    Into the big dipper



    The Snail enjoying what he can't do in Oz & gets it up


    Joy oh joy oh joy & you get to keep your licence, no points lost!

    From 4018 we blasted on up the Phu Chi Fah road & headed north along R1093 to Pha Tang.

    Stopped Pha Tang for some noodles for lunch I got a marriage proposal from a wonderful Chinese lady who promised to cook & feed me.

    I promised to come back with an answer = I shall return.

    Meanwhile the Snail's Duke gets admired.


    Further on down R1093, where it changes to R4029, there are some superb panoramic views looking back towards majestic Chinese Pha Tang.


    If you want to know a bit about Pha Tang, check this out

  6. From Pha Tang & R1093 / 4029 its R1155 along the 'Khong for some stunning views of the river.

    The best views are between Huay Ian & Pak Ing, south of the bridge.





    Just before Pak Ing there is a small, slightly obscured chedi by the river.

    Phra That Ya Mon

    a somewhat unusual looking chedi.

    Go down to the river from the chedi & you have a sensational view of the Khong, upstream to the new bridge.

  7. Next day was across the river to Houei Xai / Laos for the night & check up on any problems getting into Laos by motorbike at Houei Xai.

    And the answer is non, if you're not a tour group.
    The full story is here if you want to know more.

    Boarding the car ferry is often an interesting if not entertaining experience
    Once it was a truck stuck in the mud so no one could get on.
    This time it was a truck broken down right before the ferry; but no problem, just jack it up & work on it right there.


    and then we had to throw a few rocks around to make the access more / or less bumpy, or muddy - please yourself.


    I opted to stay at the Porn Vijit guesthouse to enjoy their view this time round.
    The happy hour view


    The early morning view



    all Mekong photos above taken from room # 12 at Porn Vijit Guesthouse Houei Xai.

    Room # 12 asking 1,000 baht a night in season.
    But sadly the water pressure on the top floor aint much chop, & if it was not so cold a bucket of cold water would have been better than the "misty spray of warm water" that was supposed to be the shower. You can't win 'em all - go with the low flow this time round.

    Late morning it was time for a run upstream to Kings Roman Casino city & check on the immigration set up.
    But not before watching a Laos couple pick up their new satellite dish & take it home on the back of the Honda Wave.


    Its a good road upstream all the way out to the casino & quite a bit more


    the new road obviously came in after the power lines


    trucks are always a nuisance on the narrow roads


    I went as far as Ban Mom for a quick look & turn around.
    Wat Ban Mom



    across the river on the Burmese side


    with lots of timber stacked up.

    now I wonder from exactly which side has it come & where is it going - upstream to China I guess.

    Back track to the Casino city
    and the boring GT view from the Laos side


    the view towards Thailand


    the Jamme Grocery Construction Tool shop

    had me confused & unfortunately it was closed on the day, so could not solve the mystery.

    Outside the casino


    Pop onto Don Sao island

    for some fresh coconut juice & check on maps.

    back down to Houei Xai to squeeze onto the ferry

    & cross back over to Thailand.

    and the next day back in Chiang Mai for a GT Rider dinner at the Franco-Thai


    and another week has gone by....

    Life on the road is good.
  8. Great Photos and Report. Great to catch up with Scotty and the Snail again. The Snail obviously enjoyed bringing His Hyper over for a Blast!
  9. You are living the dream David!!! :happy1:

    Love this pic-

    See you next week! Happy Trails!

  10. A panorama shot of the Choui Fong tea plantation.

    Its well worth the extra effort to go there & check out guys!
  11. One of the other Choui Fong tea plantations is at Mae Salong Nai
    4.3 kms north of R1130 just west of Mae Chan.

    the plantation is sprawling & the views panoramic



    There's a nice coffee shop on the top of the hill



    The Akha tea picking chain gang


    Just a short side trip from off R1130 basically down in the flat & well worth the excursion.
    Check it out sometime.
  12. Love the ride report David :happy2:
  13. Hey DavidFL
    Cheers for sharing your report it was great reading. You sent me links to this a while back when I was researching our up coming trip and we have taken your advice and going to follow in your tire tracks and take this same route in late November.
    We only have 7 days so we will fit in what we can and head back to CNX. I was curious about your trip across the river to Houei Xai I tried to use the link you proved it wasn't working. I was wondering if we would have trouble doing the same crossing on rental bikes or would it be to risky.
    Cheers again for the great reports they are very helpful.

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