Ne Loop - Please Review My Proposed Routes

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - General Discussion Forum' started by MelvinMcMan, Oct 19, 2017.

  1. Hello folks,

    I am looking for some advice on a bike trip through NE Thailand. My wife and I will be riding with our two kids (6 and 8). We have about 10-12 days that we’d like to spend checking out this part of Thailand. We did the MHS loop a few years back while the kids were toddlers and absolutely loved it and would now like to try something a bit more off the beaten path.

    Firstly, let me say what an awesome site this is! Looks like a very helpful community and an amazing amount of information has been assembled here. I’ve read through the Thailand Trip Planning page, as well as some other trip reports that I’ve seen, and come up with a couple of options for our trip.

    It would be very much appreciated if you could review these routes and advise on:

    • Feasibility – the youngsters will get bored with multiple long days in the saddle so need plenty of stops to keep them happy. With frequent stops and taking days off between longer rides, which route do you consider the most practical in the timeframe we have available?
    • Route selection – we like using seldom trafficked back roads as much as possible but with the kids on the back we also don’t want anything massively technical. We’re both pretty handy riders and are OK with dirt provided it’s not a MX track. Have I selected roads that are doable? Are there better/more interesting options that I should consider instead? Will we be riding past/near any must see attractions that we should detour for? Would one of these routes be much more interesting than the other? I’d love to hear about your experiences here!
    • Stop overs – as I mentioned, we will need to take multiple, extended stopovers. What do you think of the ones I’ve indicated? Can you suggest alternatives? Ideally, our stop overs would be pleasant towns with amenities (good restaurants, vibe etc,) where we either chill and check out the local scene, or which we can use as a base to explore surrounding attractions on half-day trips.
    • Bikes – would the different routes be best on a particular bike? I’m thinking of some kind of 250 dirt bike for this trip but not certain. CB300 looks like a pretty tidy option too. With kids in tow we will be taking it nice and easy and certainly won’t be riding hard. My riding experience is split between dirt and road bikes. My wife is used to dirt bikes but has also logged thousands of hours on a Honda cub when we lived in Taiwan.

    The three proposed routes:

    Northern loop:
    Start/End: Chiang Mai
    Stops: Fang (one night), Mae Slong (one night), Mae Sai (one night), Chiang Khong (two nights), Phu Chi Fa (one night), Phayao (three nights)
    Average leg: 107km.

    Have spare 3 nights on this route so can add stopovers or more nights somewhere.

    Southern loop:
    Start/End: Chiang Mai
    Stops: Lamphang (two nights), Phrae (three nights), Nan (two nights), Phayao (three nights)
    Average leg: 140km

    Have spare 2 nights on this route so can add stopovers or more nights somewhere.

    The grand daddy NE loop:
    Start/End: Chiang Mai
    Stops: Lamphang (one night), Phrae (two nights), Phayao (two nights), Phu Chi Fa (one night), Chiang Khong (two nights), Mae Sai (one night), Mae Slong (one night), Fang (one night)
    Average Leg: 130km

    Finally, your thoughts on timing please.
    We will be doing this over Christmas. With these routes we’d arrive back in Chiang Mai sometime around the 31st/1st/2nd. We need to be back in Bangkok on the 4th of Jan to get a flight. I understand that Chiang Mai becomes really busy around New Year’s time? How will we go with finding accommodation in Chiang Mai when we return? How about transport back to Bangkok (prefer over night train but flight is also an option). Would it be better return to Chaing Mai before, during or after NY?

    Many thanks for your help!

    I promise I will write up a detailed trip report and post it on the forums when we’re done.

    All the best,

  2. Plenty of ideas on GTR here


    The Way To Go
    Chiang Mai – Chiang Dao – Arunothai – Fang – Tha Ton – Doi Mae Salong – Thoed Thai – Doi Tung – Mae Sai – GT – Chiang Saen – Chiang Khong – Pha Tang – Phu Chi Fah – Chiang Kham – Tha Wang Pa – Pua – Doi Phukha – Nan – Chiang Muan – Phayao – Mae Kachan – Chiang Mai.

    Following that route you should never be more than 45 minutes away from some nice comfy accommodation.
    GTR accommodation suggestions for the North are here
    Accommodation - North Thailand is a favourite GTR accommodation booking site as well

    Wherever you are in the North you can get back to Chiang Mai in a day, although some rides are a bit longer than others, especially if you have kids on board.

    The traffic & accommodation bookings get really heavy after Christmas, & new year is mayhem. So make sure you are "locked in" for whatever you are doing after Christmas.

    Some similar threads that maybe of help
    Northern Thailand 8-9 Day Tour

    Chiang Mai 5 Day Riding

    7 Maybe 8 Day Rides From Chiang Mai
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Thanks for that David, really impressive amount of work you've done cataloging the attractions/accomm/food etc. in those links! It's a fantastic resource.

    Looks like we're spoiled for choice on appropriate routes! Which would be a better route in your opinion: the northern GT route you suggest or the more southern route I proposed that takes in Nan?

    You mentioned that things start getting busy after xmas. I really prefer not to book so I can keep things as flexible as possible. How busy are you talking here? Will we be basically locked out of accommodation if we don't book? Are some places more busy than others (particularly interested to know about Phayao, Nan, Phrae, and Chiang Kong). How about Chiang Mai? Does it also get booked out around that time? Is this demand from Thai tourists or internationals? Sounds like we definitely want to wrap up the driving by New Years though!

  4. Well there's more to see, do & places to say in the Northern route; but because of this it will be busier. More traffic & more people. The southern route will be less busy, but will require longer rides with the kids.
    Once high season kicks it is busy & you wont always get accommodation available at your first (or second or third...) choice of stay.
    And Yes over new year "everything is full." Make sure you have something booked!
  5. From my recent experience, last Xmas/ NY and especially Pai, it's busy. MHS was not as bad. I'm a parent and I'll tell you the last thing you will be wanting to do is ride round with cranky kids, hunting for rooms.
    We got dicked around reserving rooms on To turn up 15 mins later, to I'm sorry, sold to walkin, sorry last room.
    Just my 2 bobs worth, good luck.
  6. For the benefit of all,
    We (3) have just completed (03 Jan) 9 nights on the road and I found the GTR accomodation guide a great help. We took a number of punts(non GTR recommended)and some paid off, others didn't quite match the pictures. We did do the ride around once at the end of the day, which I did not enjoy. is not the be all and end all and it pays to explore some of the alternatives but it is a useful tool. We forfeited a night in Fang, due to our daughter having a bout of food poisoning and with booking, it's a cancellation fee, in this case, probably the room charge.
    If you are just riding 100 kms a day and you have all the time in the world, there is ample time to find a place to stay.
    And as David has reiterated to me and probably 100's of others, on a good day, you are less than 3/4 hour from cosy digs anywhere along the way. I didn't believe him then but I do now.
    But when it's busy or you have a schedule, book ahead with proven providers.
    My 2 bobs, cheers Waz

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