Doi Inthanon, an anti-clockwise loop, in Covid times.

Steve Merchant

Dec 11, 2009
While the body and the bike are still fit to travel I am catching up with some places I have not see despite over 30 years here. I'm also making the most of the clear cold season and getting a few trips in before the smoke gets too much. Hence on Feb 3 with a slightly cold but clear morning I made my way at 7.30am from Doi Saket to Sanpatong for only my second ever visit to Doi Inthanon. With no map and no working route finder I wrote road numbers and directions down from Google maps the night before and felt happy about finding the way in area which anyway has few roads. As per my information the road from Sanpatong is marked as the 1013 but farther out into the country all signs tell you its the 4016 and I was beginning to wonder how I'd got lost at such an early point. The journey up through the Mae Wang valley was pretty enough but it was sad to see that just about every commercial activity halted due to Covid and I think I could maybe have got a coffee somewhere but there were few options. As the road gets higher up the mountain it turns into a concrete poured, rather narrow track which stands 8 inches proud of the surrounding land, meaning if you were forced off the road by a local farmers pick-up coming quickly round a bend you could end up in trouble. And farmers pick-ups were almost all I saw, especially the souped up high load variety that all wanted to be racing drivers.
The journey around the mountain south and west, still shown as 4016, was commercial market gardening with plastic sheeting and irrigation. Lots of it. The camping, resorts, guest houses etc. were just about all closed but drinks and local food were still available for the working farmers. The road improves greatly when it joins the 1009, the main tourist and visitor route to the peak and the scenery becomes more of what you'd expect from a protected national park. At the fee paying entrance to the park I was pulled up by the attendant who wanted me to buy a ticket but thankfully the downhill route I wanted was just visible along and to the left and I was allowed to explain and go.
The 1192 heading mostly downhill and west was the highlight of the trip, lovely scented pine forest, an empty road and time to look around but sadly its not tourist friendly in that they haven't produced viewpoints to enjoy or photograph the scenes. The road surface here was broken by landslips, or should I say land-drops and in a few places I lurched left as the road dropped maybe 3 or 4 inches. A few kms before the 1088 junction I was stopped for a Covid check, temp taken, passport number and address recorded, 5 minutes in all, very friendly. Once out of the thick forest it was depressing to see the roadside fires that had crept 40 or 50 meters into the trees and were obviously set by govt workers in their yellow trucks. From that point on I was again surprised by the amount of rolling farm land and the large areas under cultivation until I neared Ob Luang. A truly productive district and people, many who I understand are Karen. Then it was too far on the 108 back to Doi Saket broken only by the wondrous sight of a whole mountain being reduced to broken stone and concrete on the outskirts of Hod. A massive operation. The most dangerous bit of the whole day? Coming from Doi Saket and round the ring roads at 7.30am with everyone passing left or right and going as fast as they please, 2m off your back wheel. Back to the safety of Fang for me.


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Steve Merchant

Dec 11, 2009
It was only yesterday when I had the map on the screen to write road numbers down that I followed that turn off at the top of the hill and found out where it went. Yeh, it looks interesting.