Chiang Khong & Return


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
ROUTES: 118 – 1 – 1016 – 1129.
DISTANCE: 750 kms return.
DATE: Frid 6th – Sun 8th June.
WEATHER: Heavy overcast / light – heavy rain.

This was an escape from the big smoke for a couple of days to hang out in the clean fresh air of Chiang Khong “city", and GPS the place at the same time.
Chiang Khong is my fave town in North Thailand right now, and if you are looking for “the perfect” clean quiet unspoilled traditional North Thai town to hang out in, then for me Chiang Khong’s the place to go…..

Get away time from the Cnx super was 1.50 pm under real heavy cloud cover, which meant no sun, but most likely rain, and lots of it. The waterproofs were strapped onto the seat for a fast “pull-on”, but amazingly I did not need them until Wiang Pa Pao, 90 kms out. Immediately north of WPP there are a set of wonderful rolling hills to ride through and with the cloud cover real low, and light drizzle falling it was obvious I was finally going to get wet. And I did for all of 5 minutes! That’s the luck of the game I guess - if you don’t put them on it rains, and if you do it doesn’t.

On the super around Chiang Rai city I got every red light, and there’s a lot of them, around 10 or 12 if you count them all. The lights in Chiang Rai are a bit on the slow side, and after 5 sets of red lights I was sweltering and sweating profusely in my rain gear. It was time to get out of them. Now to understand how real slow the traffic lights in Chiang Rai change, at one set of red lights I was able to get off my bike, quickly take off my 2 piece waterproofs, strap them back on the seat, get back on the bike and be away with the lights when they changed to green – I did not even miss a change of lights! Some of the locals who were watching were impressed and I reckon I could have hit them up for 10 baht each to watch the farang show?

Anyway as luck would have it, not 10 minutes down the road, approaching Mae Chan, the rain came down and that was it – WET through in 7 minutes.
Actually just before it did come down I had a severe heart in the mouth moment. With the road dry in places on the 4-lane, I was riding reasonably fast to reach my destination before the rain came down. Heading north, just before Mae Chan there are a couple of fast flowing, but decreasing radius, left hand corners; I lined up for the corner, cranked the bike over and then as I started to enter I saw that it was all wet – it had rained moments before. Whoops, shut the throttle, straighten the bike up, take a quick dab of the brakes, and skate right on through. Wow what good luck I thought, that’s life flashing by in the fast lane. The rest of the journey was at a somewhat more leisurely pace.
From Mae Chan – Chiang Saen, I had the usual “false alarm” dogs on the road dramas, and I dare anyone to find a road that has more road-sitting dogs than route 1016!

Route 1129 from Chiang Saen to Chiang Khong’s still a squirly one, that always makes you think you’re tyres are getting low on air pressure! The scenery however is incredibly beautiful, with all the mountains lush green, the mighty Mekong surging along and Laos on the other side.

Chiang Khong arrival time was 5.30 pm, not such a bad time, considering the conditions and weather.
Stayed at Tam Mi La ghouse, (my fave ghouse in North Thai), & got one of the new brick bungalows’ (but you can beat wood bungalow # 7 towards the Mekong, with the magnificent views of the river from your bed!)

The 1st night in town was a good one. I started out at the Nam Khong ghouse with a couple of drinks with Chalida & Miss Nit, then it was onto the Khrua Thip for quite a few more with Tiew & the girls, then it was time to hit the new Madam Pub, Chiang Khong’s newest night spot & the place to go for live music / disco / teenagers………obviously that Friday night was not a good one as only 6 tables were occupied.
Somehow under escort, I ended up at the Nut Pop late night kow tom spot down by the bridge south of town, only to meet up with the gang from the Bamboo ghouse & the Tepee pub. Between 2.30 am & 3.00 am I staggered (rode) home. Yeah Chiang Khong’s alright, if you just know where to go.

Next day was a rather slow one. Up just after mid day, and missed my 10.00 am brekky appointment with Tiew & staff at the Khrua Thip.
I chugged around town most of the day GPSing the sois and marking any local establishments of note.
Chiang Khong’s really coming on very nicely, most of the small back sois are now cement, and any that are not, are in the process. There are some superb little rural back lanes and properties to explore. The town is quite extensive away from the immediate riverfront, if you just want to explore a little.

Saturday night was supposed to be a follow up to Friday night, but somehow I ended up at the Jan Yim suan aharn sign-a-song 6 kms south of town.
The original plan was to savor The Madam Pub - the car park was packed with motorbikes, but after I had parked my bike towards the front door I was asked to move it, as it was partially blocking the entrance. I found this a bit hard to swallow as it was behind 2 other bikes, which were right up against the wall. I got the distinct impression it was a prejudice against the farang with the big bike, so stowed my bot of whisky back in the Givi box, got on the bike and left. As I left the attendant was calling out sorry, sorry, and moving the other 2 bikes from the entrance. Sorry brother too late, I don’t feel welcome.

The Jan Yim is out past the hospital & where the “phu yai” go to drink and play, from what I can gather. Business at the JY is probably down a little, but they still have the usual awesome line up of sexy singers with knee high boots & tennis skirts. I was impressed as always, particularly with a totally drunk threesome – 2 female & 1 male (nurses?)– customers propping each other up and attempting to dance. It was hilarious. On the way home, after the Jan Yim it was another stop off at the Nut Pop for some kow tom, only to run into Noom & the gang from the Relaxe pub, next to the Tepee, & then the Tepee gang turned up as well. The news from the Relaxe gang was that there had been a little physical disagreement over a girl between the Customs & Police boys in the horng-nam at the Madam Pub that night. Oh well, boy will be boys & I’d missed the real action for the night…….

Sunday was another slow day, but not quite as slow as the previous day. More GPSing & on the bike for home at 2.45 pm.
The weather did not look that bad and I had a brilliant non-stop dry run all the way to ridgeline just 53 kms out of Chiang Mai. The mountain ahead was covered in heavy cloud, but nah I thought, after riding 250 kms in the dry, there was no need to put on the rain gear, I’d just get wet going over the top, and have time to dry out in the last 20-30 kms. WRONG - as soon as I cleared the ridgeline down it came by the bucket full ALL the way into Chiang Mai. It was heaviest between San Sai & the Cnx super, just 6 kms out. Oh well you can’t win them all, I’d still had a good dry ride for 250 kms.

Keep the power on