Phayao Return


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
ROUTES: 118 – 120 – 1
DISTANCE: 350 kms return.
DATE: Sun 22nd – Mon 23rd June.
WEATHER: Sunny - heavy overcast – wet!

Another escape from Cnx, this time for the girlfriend’s night off (& for me to earn some brownie points before heading to off to Laos.)
Phayao’s a provincial capital, but still a quiet & cute town beside a huge lake. The air’s always fresh from off the lake, and the local girls are deservedly renowned for their beauty and sweetness. At just 150 kms / 2 hrs out of Cnx it’s an easy & nice little getaway for the night.

Got away from the super in Chiang Mai at around 2.00 pm. After the very heavy cloud cover and rain on the day before, the weather as we left was absolutely glorious – bright & sunny, with scores of puffy white (& some grey) clouds around. With such good weather, it was a leisurely run down 118.


About 30-35 kms out they are fixing up the road for a kilometer, and you need to watch out for loose stones on the road. You also need to watch out for the mickey mouse worker who waves the miniscule red flag, warning you to stop and let the oncoming traffic thru the road works. It is not at all clear exactly what he is doing or which flag – the red stop or the green go - he is waving and to whom? I reckon it would make an entertaining 5-10 mins video clip watching this guy in action!

First stop was at the hot springs, 64 kms out of Chiang Mai. Here the coffee’s always good at the Sunshine Restaurant.


A bizarre incident and the “highlight” of the trip occurred here - while the girlfriend ordered the food & drink I set fire to the bike! Yes, that’s right, the bike momentarily lit up. The GPS power supply was playing up & only working intermittently, & while twisting the socket to establish a decent contact the cable caught on fire. Now when you’re sitting on the bike, this is not a nice feeling, especially when I saw the cable suddenly burn rapidly down to under the fuel tank. In near panic mode, I jumped off the bike, grabbed the burning cable with my gloves, and extinguished the flames, just before the they disappeared under the fuel tank. If it had gone any further, & I was not able to get at it before it reached the battery and other wiring, well the Africa Twin & I could have been nicely BBQ-d at a guess……….just the thought of it sends a shiver down my spine.

The coffee break at the hot springs was a little longer than normal then while I recovered from the BBQ-d bike syndrome.
Next stop was at the small but pretty Tharn Thong waterfall


beside the road on route 120 between Wang Nua & Phayao. After a couple of snaps for the girlfriend it was another stop at the sala viewpoint up on the ridgeline, overlooking Phayao lake.


The view from here was stunning, with magnificent clear views for as far as you could see.


On route 120, just a few kms west of Wang Nua, they have repaired the road where the spring leaks from under the road, so it is not too bad at the moment.


Arrival time in Phayao was 4.40 pm, and we checked into the Gateway Hotel. The asking rate was 800 baht, inclusive of breakfast, but I managed to get it reduced to 600 baht by declining the breakfasts.
At 600 baht, the rooms at the Gateway are good value for money – with bathtubs / UBC TV / fridge / carpeted floors.
After a small kip, it was time to hit the town. Happy hour started down by the lake at the Wiang Taal restaurant, with some freshly grilled fish and a couple of nice yams (Thai salads.) Dusk by the lake


in Phayao really is awesome, with scores of young girls and guys out cruising on their motorbikes. The scene really is impressive and worth checking out some time.
Once the sun went down & the lights came on we rode around town looking for any new pubs / restaurants that might need checking out.
We hit the Spider Pub, Surprise Pub and the Mckenna.
The Spider probably gets the top vote for service and atmosphere, I also suspect that going on the customers, it is the place for the Phu Yai adults (= no delinquent teenagers) to drink and play.
The Surprise was a waste of time, and the McKenna does have good nights, as I’ve seen them before, but it certainly was not that night – only 2 tables were occupied.
Last but not least, the BM Pub would seem to be the number one disco spot in town and the place for teenagers to hang out.

Monday was a 10.30 am wake up & check out of the hotel by midday.
On a “chug around the lake” we visited the


beautiful marble temple Wat Analayao, on the west side of the lake. This place is also known as Doi Bussaracum and really is amazing. The architecture and landscaping – are absolutely superb. AND all the trees are left in tact - it is incredible how it looks like not one tree has been cut down. The footpaths are dotted with scores of trees that are growing up out of them. Check it out sometime and you’ll be impressed with the beauty of the place.

After the temple, it was a quick race back to Chiang Mai. The rain was coming so it was time to head home. The waterproofs went on before Wang Nua, but came off once we crossed the ridgeline, 53 kms out of Chiang Mai, for a nice dry run into town.

Keep the power on