Motorcycle paradise found !!!!

Feb 23, 2003
I have been riding around Thailand for three years now but for some reason I never quite made it to the roads around Nan. Heard they were great but wanted to see for myself. So when the famous GT rider David said he wanted to do some mapping in the area, of course I had to invite myself along..... Late morning start out of the Bier Stube, no problem as the first day was not too long. David looked a little groggy, so I immediatley supected wine, women, and song.

Took the standard route north on 118 and then cut over on 120 to Phayao. Great weather, not hot or cold. Good riding tht especially dropping down off the mountains into Phayao. Out of Phayao and northeast to Chiang Kham. A quick lunch stop and then off south east on 1160, which then turns into 1148 ( THE ROAD !!!) I have ridden all over America and Canada but cannot recall riding on a rode that was more fun. I am sure this road was laid out by a closet Thai sport bike rider.


Up to the top of the ridge with big sweepers, and then down the backside with small tight banked turns that feel like a roller coaster.


Every once in a great while a decreasing radius turn to keep you on your toes !!


Thank god for power assisted ABS braking on my BMW Adventure. Came around a blind curve fast with David in front of me and the road briefly ceased to exist. It was torn up to put in a big drainage channel under the road. Then a dirt track went around it as a bypass. No signs, no warnings, and no cones..... Amazing Thailand. On to Pua where we spent the night. Pleasant accomadations at a small resort in town.


Next day out of Pua and head east to Bo Kluea.


Great mountain scenery and some fun riding roads


as well, although the turns were a too tight to put on very much speed. A super motard might be the bike of choice for this section.


Spent an hour with David chatting up some nice girls at a roadside stand next to a small park. David's system of picking these stopping points seem to be predicated upon the general cuteness of the girls working there, rather then any bodily needs for food or drink.


Oh well, works for me. Brief stop at Bo Kluea


to see how they turn a underground salty well into the village livelyhood of producing salt. Lots of burning wood to evaporate out the water. Two kilos of bagged salt was about $ .50 USD. Then headed south towards Nan. Interesting riding on sort of a rough twisty road


on the way down towards Nan. Once in Nan we went to a nice hotel that David knew. Popped for the VIP room at a whopping 700 baht. Had a great dinner with a friend of David that had a Italian restarant.
Next day up not too early and then off for home. Sort of south west on 101 to Phrae. Just a general winding mountain road with a fair amount of traffic on it. Keep your eyes open for Thais in a hurry passing into blind corners straight into you. We parted company in Lampang where I wanted to visit a friend of mine. Overall a great trip. People seemed extra friendly there, probably a result of not too many tourists. The area is a little bit off the beaten track. Come and check it out. Cheers Robert


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
"Apologies" for the late start & the night before, but there was a good reason...


You're doubly / triply right, Route 1148 is still THE ROAD to ride at the moment.
It’s 114 kms of exhilaration from Chiang Kham to Tha Wang Pha.
1. Hae - Tha Wang Pha = perfect smooth race track asphalt.
2. Hae - Sakoen = fast flowing, sweeping, swooping, endless steep & winding.
3. Sakoen - Pha Lak = the totally amazing out of control roller coaster section, that makes me think the road's been plotted by a cut snake. It just goes everywhere, bobbing up and down, twisting, turning all over the place, just like riding a cut snake maybe. In this section, riding hard you can actually get dizzy, but the adrenalin just powers you on and on.
4. Pha Lak - Tha Wang Pha = back on the fast flowing swooping endless winding twisties, (but now tamed snake). The last half is just about all downhill too, as the road descends into the Nan river valley.

That first missing bit of road was something, just after your crest a small blind rise, and there she wasn't - NO Road, just a 2 1/2 metres hole, where the new bridge was planned. I had the ol Africa Twin locked up a soon as I saw what wasn't there!
But what about the other nice watery hole from that infamous spring, leaking lots of water onto the road, route 120, just a few kms west of Wang Nua? That one also gives you a nice little wake up call when you come up on it at speed. Then what I liked just 500 meters after this was the 40kph sign posted on the downhill bend; I reckon you can get round there at 140 kph without difficulty – next time might be worth a photo with the bike cranked right over.

Last but not least, whilst Route 1148 maybe THE ROAD to do at the moment, for my money Route 1256 & the Doi Phukha Loops are still THE RIDE to do.

Pic below: R1081 & the "backside" (Lao border side) of Doi Phukha.

What are your thoughts on that one? How do you rate your rides in the North so far then?

Keep the power on
Feb 6, 2003
I loved 1256. Did it eastbound, stopping at Chomphu Tree for lunch and a good time with the locals. Great downward twisties and view of Bo Klua coming down the road. From there 1081/1169 to Santisuk and onto Nan was also a good one. Saw only two other vehicles the whole time on that run.

Stan in Missouri


Jan 20, 2003
In early April, I did the Nan run to hook up with the Bangkok BMW club. Hot and dry heading over there, with a few large fires along 1148. It was still a week before Songkran, but the kids in the villages were out throwing water already, but only when you pulled over and let them. Easy way to cool off.

Riding with the group made me glad that I usually tour alone or in a small group. To call it disorganized would be courteous.

Two of the riders brought girlfriends - so the start was delayed for 45 minutes waiting for the ladies. Then those two riders got lost before the Doi Phukha turnoff. Then we wait. Later, a brand new 1150GS was not parked very well, and fell over - on to another bike. So we tape up the broken bits, and wait while they discuss how to turn in the insurance claim.

Finally, we get over Doi Phukha. The downhill ride to Bo Klua is all brand new asphalt. It was under construction last December. Then we have lunch, and wait for one of the missing bikers.

The group has decided to turn left, and take 1081 north. Unkovich's 1998 touring guide list that as "a pig of a road, don't bother". He is wrong - it is worse. Potholes, ruts, sand, gravel, landslides, construction, mud, etc. But, we all make it to Huai Kon, and head south on 1080 - which is still good road.

About 6 PM, we get to Tha Wang Pha. We are not going back to Nan, but to an exclusive resort in the nearby National park. But first, we have to wait for another biker coming up from Bangkok. We head out in the dark on 1082 - which would be a fun road during the day, but not at night. After 30 km, we go offroad for 4 km and arrive at the resort. The GSs and my TDM did fine, but the sport bikes had fun with the dirt road.

The resort is a private getaway for government meetings, and it probably took some pull to get permission to stay there. But it really was not set up for this large of a group. The couples shared the one primitive bungalow. For the 14 other riders, they were only 2 rooms. Each room had 1 bed, 6 floor pads, no shower, and a single toilet with a Thai racing seat. The place had food, but no beer.

Three of us decide to be considerate, and give the others more room. We head back to Nan - about 80 km away - arriving at 10:30 PM. Hot showers, cold beer.

The group is supposed to meet us the next morning at 10 AM. At 10:40, we give up, and head off to Chiang Mai. The group did get there at 11:30, but then they needed lunch. We came across on 1091 and through Phayao, then 120 and 118. Good road, 3 riders, no worries.