Northern Thailand Tour On A Crf250l 20-jan To 13-feb 2019

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by Tarquin Ferrets, Feb 17, 2019.

  1. Tarquin Ferrets

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    #1 Tarquin Ferrets, Feb 17, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2019
    Here's a summary regarding my recent tour of the Northern Thailand, Firstly, thank you for all the feedback and comments along the way. Hopefully some of the information is useful to someone, somewhere at some stage. I try not to bore you shitless but I probably will. So fetch a beer or popcorn should you intend to read further. I did not ride every single day but took a break every few days or just had short ride somewhere. Unfortunately towards the end I had to take four days completely off riding in Mae Sariang to recover from some nasty common cold. So basically 25 days on the road (with breaks here and there) and 3100 km. I decided to write down few words regarding each of the places visited, the roads traveled and accommodation used along the way together with route maps and some basic high level information about the Thai-Burma frontier.

    Places visited:

    Nampat
    - quiet little town in Uttaradit province. Good spot to stop on the way to/from North and base for visiting Sirikit dam.

    Nan - provincial capital of Nan province with lots of accommodation to choose from.Good base to explore the province further. For some good western nosh head to Crossroads Nan restaurant.

    Bo Klua - Charming and scenic little town surrounded by the mountains. Seems to have few options for lodging too.
    1-IMG_20190123_150637.
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    Pua
    - Good choice of lodging and restaurants with some basic local style live music nightlife such as 'Seeds'. Good base.
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    Chalerm Prakiat
    - Gateway to Laos hence a tad rough frontier town.

    Phu Chi Fa
    - Very scenic area up in hills with good choice of resorts, restaurants and coffee shops.
    1-IMG_20190125_171218.

    Wiang Kaen
    - Lovely views on Mekong along highway 1155.
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    Chiang Khong
    - Good choice of hotels and restaurants and view over Mekong to Ban Huai Xai, Laos. Call in to Rin Bar for few beers and a game of pool.
    1-DSCF2345.JPG

    Golden Triangle & Chiang Saen
    - the mandatory tourist stop at the river confluence where Thailand, Burma and Laos meet. Just FYI, the real golden triangle which was/is known as the major opium growing region consists of whole of Burma's Shan State, Northern Thailand, Northern Laos and parts of Chinese Yunnan.
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    Doi Mae Fah Luang and Doi Tung area
    - beautiful scenic views on Burma and Thailand with some twisty steed roads.
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    Ban Thoet Thai
    - very multi cultural interesting village with few accommodation options. Home for the Opium Warlord and Shan Freedom Fighter Khun Sa's old Camp which now acts as museum. The front of 7-Eleven seems to be the most happening place after dark and that's the charm of this remote place. Myriad of languages are spoken here and the nearby villages. You can easily visit Doi Hua Mae Kham and Ban Mae Mo from here as the roads are very good.
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    Doi Mae Salong
    - ex Kuomintang Nationalist Chinese 5th army base and settlement. Heavy Chinese influence and good choice of lodging and restaurants. And back in the swinging 60's a very large heroin refinery :)
    1-IMG_20190129_135434.

    Fang
    - Good base to explore nearby areas of Doi Angkhang, Ban Nor Lae, Mae Ai ,Thaton and Doi Land area. And don't forget the highway 1314 loop. You can also venture some 22 km off highway 1314 along the Thai-Burma border Great local nightlife spot with several live music restaurants at cheap prices.
    1-IMG_20190131_153411.

    Arunothai - A bit rough border town with some Chinese (assume ex KMT influence).

    Kae Noi
    - Very rural and remote. Although not right next to the Burma border, albeit not far, this is definitely smuggling territory due to its remoteness. Should get interesting after dark. So if ever end up overnight here (if lodging available) mind your own business as others' probably does not stand daylight :) Chinese (assume Kuomintang) influence judging from the Chinese cemeteries with large tombs/stones.

    Wiang Haeng
    - Looks okay and few accommodations available by the looks of things. Still feels border / frontier territory. There's a 60 km dirt plus concrete road shortcut to Pai from here.

    Chiang Dao
    - This was just an overnight stop for me. Basic lodging and the usual services available.

    Pai
    - Well as most of you know, good lodging, restaurants, little clubs and all the usual services of a tourist hot-spot. And a good base to explore the surrounding areas and places of interest.

    Pang Mapha
    - Few choices of accommodations and basic services right along the highway. Good base to explore the nearby areas. If you happen to be here during the Lisu new year early February then join the party up the hill why don't you.
    1-IMG_20190205_142555.
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    Mae Sariang
    - Spent several days here recovering from some common cold / flu. Good base to visit Salween river on the Thai-Burma frontier at Ban Mae Sam Laep. If you fancy few drinks with good people head to Ching Ching Cafe. Where else can you get pissed in a barber's chair :)

    Sawankhalok
    - Again, if you wish to visit Sukhothai or Si Satchanalai historical parks you can also overnight here instead of Sukhothai town itself.

    Just to mention some of the roads:

    1268
    - Most of the minefield between Na Haeo and Phu Soi Dao have been fixed and it's a pleasure.

    1243 - Very remote and a mixed bag but okay for most bikes. I enjoyed it a lot. However, if you need a toilet break or a drink do it before entering this road as it takes much longer than you think and there's nothing up there.
    1-IMG_20190121_132823.
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    1081
    - Between Santisuk and Bo Klua the road is in good condition and fun. Beautiful scenery all the way.
    1-IMG_20190123_141957.
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    1081
    - North of Bo Klua to Chalerm Prakiat it's a bit mixed bag. The road looks great as you leave Bo Klua but it isn't as the highway engineer clearly spent most of his time in a nearby karaoke bar - it's bumpy as hell. But there are good sections as well plus couple sections currently under construction. All in all it's fine and with great scenery.
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    1256
    - is in good condition and has some great views. But it's only some 50km long.
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    1148
    - yes I can see the appeal to most petrol heads as it's a race track. Felt almost guilty rolling along 90 km/h top speed and significantly less on bendy bits with a dirt bike :)
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    1155
    - great views on Mekong at Wiang Kaen district.
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    1149
    - from downtown Mae Sai up to mae Fah Luang and Doi Tung area. Very twisty and steep at places with great views on Burma and Thailand.
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    1334 & 1378
    - Shortcut from Mae Fah Luang to Ban Thoet Thai.
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    4052 and 4032
    - Rural roads to Doi Hua Mae Kham and Ban Mae Mo respectively from Ban Thoet Thai.
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    Ban Thoet Thai - Doi Mae Salong
    - rural shortcut.
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    1314
    - lovely afternoon loop from Fang. Can start from Mae Ai or Thaton.
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    1322
    - From south of Arunothai to Piang Luang and Wiang Haeng area. Road markers show 1322 but some maps still show as part of 1178. Very remote and travels up in the hills among pine trees most of the way. Some great views. Some sections are new whereas some are full of potholes. But all in all passable and okay. Probably not the best location to ride at night as I assume this is still serious smuggling territory.
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    1322
    - Wiang Haeng to Chiang Dao. What a gem. Curvy and steep road all the way through beautiful mountains with great scenery and forest cover. And the road is is in perfect nick.
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    1095
    - as you all know this a fun and curvy road all the way from Mae Taeng to Mae Hong Son.

    108
    - For me just a great as 1095 if not better as less steep and you can make better time. Much less bikes and traffic here too than 1095 which suggest most people who travel to Pai and Mae Hong Son return the same way. Or cut their loop shorter returning via Mae Chaem and Doi Inthanon.
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    106
    - a great twisty section just northwest of Thoen and the road is mostly in good shape here.
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    1048
    - Another short but fun twisty section just east of Thoen. 1-IMG_20190212_172735.

    1143
    - Great road in good shape (Chat Trakan - Nakhon Thai) if you wish to avoid main roads when traveling through lower North.

    2013
    - Nakhon Thai - Dan Sai. Most of the rough spots have been fixed and it's good fun again.

    Accommodation used this trip:

    Nampat - Resort
    350.- Air, 250.- or 300.- Fan. Good value right next to the pedestrian overpass 100 metres from the PTT petrol station. The lady with the noodle soup stall right under the overpass runs the place. The bungalows are at the end of the short driveway and you can park next to your bungalow. Free coffee.

    Nan - Winhouse Hotel
    600.- The rooms in the front building are tad nicer. The ones at the back are motel like, quite small but very clean. Good parking.

    Pua - Pawinsin Resort
    690.- with Coffee, Toast and some northern snacks for breakfast. Good parking and very close to the PTT petrol station.

    Chiang Khong - Namkhong Riverside Hotel
    1,000.- incl buffet breakfast. Okay parking and good views on the Mekong river.

    Ban Thoet Thai - Ratti Kanchana Resort
    600.- Spotless lovely new bungalows. No real check-in to be seen. Just make some noise and find the older Shan lady who looks after the resort. Park next to your bungalow.

    Fang - Auang Kham Hotel
    300.- Fan 350.- Aircon. Good location and parking either in front of your bungalow or aircon building.

    Chiang Dao - Chiang Dao Inn Hotel
    500.- Bit rough and old but works. Easy to find as along the main road in downtown. Decent parking away from the street. Free coffee in the morning.

    Pai - The Heart of Pai Resort
    600-700.- Modern and clean short walk from Pai walking street. Four rooms in each two story structure and you can park right next to your room.

    Pang Mapha - Soppong River Inn
    800.- Lovely setting between the highway and a little river. Okay parking away from the street.Burt and Joy are good hosts, Coffee and tea in the rooms with hot kettle.

    Mae Sariang - Mitaree Hotel
    450.- getting a bit old but good central location with decent parking for bikes

    Sawankhalok - Sawangkaburi Hotel
    600.- Very good family run little boutique hotel with decent parking for bikes and garden at the back. Thai style Khao Tom soup breakfast with coffee.

    Few words about the Thai - Burma frontier:


    If the authorities warn you about a certain area or the road is closed there's usually a reason for it. You may be tempted, especially on a dirt bike, to venture off the beaten track and follow an inviting trail in the middle of nowhere that may lead to Burma. Many of us get that gung-ho feeling but don't do it. Because what's on the other side generally do not follow any common rules. Plus, unless crossing where it is allowed, you would be doing an illegal border crossing. Who's on the other side ?
    Well, obviously the regular Burmese military (Tatmadaw) who would probably arrest you if found clearly on the wrong side of the border.without a visa and permit. Who else ?
    Shan State Army - South (military wing of the Restoration Council of Shan State) an ethnic rebel group. They are currently allied to the Thai Army and have generally given up all drug related activity. Even sometimes arrest drug producers and smugglers. They were largely formed of the remnants of Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army who did not wish to lay down their arms same time as Khun Sa did in January 1996. The remaining troops who did not lay down their arms were joined by other smaller Shan resistance troops and under the leadership of Yawd Serk the Shan State Army - South was formed. Their headquarters are in Loi Tai Leng (or Doi Tai Lang in Thai) at the end of highway 1226 just across the border. They have several other Shan IDP camps along the Thai-Burmese border under the protection of the SSA-S.
    08-30-2017-Shan-IDPs-camp-Eng.
    United Wa State Army - although they have had bases along the Thai border for long time they are not from this area. They are headquartered in Phangsang (Phangkham) on the Sino-Burmese frontier and this is the original Wa territory. They are ex Communist Party of Burma troops, as were their northern neighbours Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (aka Kokang Group) and their southern neighbours National Democratic Alliance Army (aka Mong-La Group, alias Eastern Shan State Army). When the Communist Party of Burma broke down 1989 it did so largely along ethnic and regional lines. Hence the UWSA, MNDAA and NDAA were formed along the Burma-China border where they have their main bases and they have had ceasefire agreements with the Burmese Military since then. These three rebel groups are still somewhat connected and coordinate with each other, The UWSA being the strongest. Also, for example the leader of Mong-La Group, U Sai Lin, is the son-in-law of Kokang supremo Peng Chia-Sheng. However, in a deal brokered between the Burma Army and the UWSA the Wa were allowed forcibly to relocate part of their population to the Thai border. The idea was to have them fight the Shan State Army - South and weaken them in exchange for allowing the Wa control and tax the border trade in areas under their control. Sooner rather than later the Wa were busy manufacturing and smuggling methamphetamine drugs and this is still the case. Occasionally they clash with the SSA-S but seem more interested in their disco biscuit profits than fight the Shan. So what was the point in the first place. The Wa are also involved in numerous other business ventures within Burma and with myriad of Chinese companies. For example UWSA owns Yangon Airways :) All these above mentioned groups currently have their individual ceasefire agreements with the Burmese Military but they can become meaningless when they clash over territory. And clashes can and will happen over territory at anytime. There are also a number of other smaller ethnic militias involved in trafficking and generally you do not wish to meet them.

    Below - The UWSA forcibly relocate part of their population to Thai border to reinforce their influence and bases there.
    08-30-2017-Wa-relocation.

    Ooops seems I got a tad off topic....oh well. Ride safe guys !

    The maps and routes:

    Loei - Nampat (Uttaradit)
    Screenshot_20190120-163146.

    Nampat - Nan via highway 1243
    Screenshot_20190121-163950.

    Nan - Mae Charim - Santisuk - Bo Klua - Pua
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    Pua - Bo Klua - Chalerm Prakiat - Pua loop
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    Pua - Highway 1148 - Phu Chi Fah - Wiang Kaen - Chiang Khong
    Screenshot_20190125-205308.

    Chiang Khong - Chiang Saen - Mae Sai - Mae Fah Luang - Ban Thoet Thai
    Screenshot_20190127-173937.

    Rural highways 4052 and 4032 to Doi Hua Mae Kham and Ban Mae Mo respectively
    Screenshot_20190128-180417.

    Ban Thoet Thai - Doi Mae Salong - Mae Ai - Fang
    Screenshot_20190129-163927.

    Ban Thoet Thai - Doi Mae Salong rural shortcut
    Screenshot_20190129-164120.

    Highway 1314 loop from Fang with border Thai-Burma border road detour
    Screenshot_20190131-175705.

    Fang - Chai Prakan - Arunothai - Kae Noi - Wiang Haeng - Chiang Dao
    Screenshot_20190202-212841.

    Chiang Dao - Mae Taeng - Pai
    Screenshot_20190203-170546.

    Pang Mapha - Mae Hong Son - Khun Yuam - Mae Sariang
    Screenshot_20190207-185315.

    Mae Sariang - Hot - Doi Tao - Li - Thoen - Sawankhalok
    Screenshot_20190212-182540.

    Sawankhalok - Pichai - Chat Trakan - Nakhon Thai - Dan Sai - Loei
    Screenshot_20190213-173009.
     
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  2. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Excellent update. Many thanks.

    I will have a crack at inserting the images for you, now that I'm home in CK, as it looks as if you didn't click on the insert image button. Stay tuned.
     
  3. Tarquin Ferrets

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    Thank you David. Yes my first post and couldn't figure out how to best attach the pictures with descriptions. Answered earlier to another thread and made a mess with thumbnails Vs full photo. Not very well versed in social media and blogging it seems In case you require info which pic is which road or place you can refer to my original FB post. I could do it as well but not sure if I have such editing rights ? Next time illI consult you before making a mess. Thank you again.
     
  4. Tarquin Ferrets

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    Okay David, I had a crack at it and inserted the pictures into correct places. Should be much more pleasant read now.
     
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  5. pensionist

    pensionist Ol'Timer

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    Wow, what a beautiful report. A pleasure to read and watch the pics.
    Thank you for your efforts, hoping for more :)
     
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  6. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

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    Thank you for some useful updates!
     
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  7. Jurgen

    Jurgen Moderator

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    Fabulous and enticing report Tarquin, it makes one eager to revisit all the great places in North Thailand that you passed. Even for people who have crisscrossed the region, new eyes always bring refreshing updates.


    The comprehensive road descriptions and maps that you are providing will help bikers who want to follow your trail, in totality or on some segments.


    Great work and thank you for sharing with all GT-Rider readers.
     
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  8. Hoghead

    Hoghead Ol'Timer

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    Great stuff and keep it coming
     
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  9. GTR-Admin

    GTR-Admin Administrator
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    Hi Tarquin - many thanks for taking the time and making the effort to post this excellent ride report. It will certainly inspire others to follow in your footsteps and your input is much appreciated.

    Everyone sees the roads and places in a different light, and perspectives are altered by what you are riding and coloured by your personal tastes. Weather variables and time of year also ensure no two photos of the same place are ever the same. On that basis, no two ride reports are ever a duplication.

    I think those of us who have been here a long time always enjoy reading trip reports such as this, because of all those factors!
     
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  10. scotty007

    scotty007 Ol'Timer

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    Fantastic write up Tarquin, with many great photos and information! You really nailed the beauty and sheer joy of riding in Northern Thailand! POWER ON!
     
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  11. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

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    Very Impressive and Comprehensive Trip report! Great Information and Spectacular Photos! You covered some beautiful spots and aren't the CRF a Great Bike for it! Very Underrated I think! Well Done Mate!
     
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  12. Tarquin Ferrets

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    Thank you Ian. Yes agree CRF is a great bike for Thailand and takes you pretty much everywhere skill level allowing.
     
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  13. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Moderator

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    Brilliant report Tarquin Ferrets, you certainly covered a lot of ground on your Thailand tour.

    1-img_20190129_131527-.

    As others have said, you really get the best of both worlds choosing a CRF/KLX as a weapon of choice. You can go anywhere.

    Thanks for sharing your ride.

    Moto-Rex
     
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  14. Endojim

    Endojim Ol'Timer

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    Fantastic flow of pictures... Felt like I went along on the ride with you.

    Jim
     
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