Road Report: The Doi Inthanon Loop

Jan 12, 2003
Road Report: The Doi Inthanon Loop
« on: Nov 18th, 2002, 4:08am » Quote Modify Remove

Sat 16 Nov 2002


Generally too busy & too much traffic – but to be expected at this time of the year, just prior to Loy Krathong festival.

ROUTE 108 - from Chiang Mai to Chomthong / Hot no fun, busy & often congested with traffic.

ROUTE 1009 - up Doi Inthanon. The road’s in good nick all the way. Some parts really are excellent – fast flowing smooth surface. But if riding fast you need to watch out for slow trucks going uphill. We nearly ran up the back end of a couple more than once, flying around nice long sweepers & there was a truck blocking the road; and with cars coming down the other way there was nowhere to go but heavy on the brakes & tuck in behind the truck. Good for the adrenalin flow.
Just north of the Mae Chaem turn off there’s a nasty little 20-metre landslide to keep you alert.
You have to pay 10 baht to go into the royal chedis scenic area just below the summit now. If you’re a farang that means 210 baht to go up Doi Inthanon. If you can’t pass yourself off as a local & have to pay the tourist price, I’d protest and ask what do you get for your money – what do they actually give you - any nice maps / brochures of info in English? Nope zilch, “we just want to rip off your money & not provide you with anything.”"nuff said.
We did not go all the way up to the top; as the best views are from the royal chedis, so don’t know about the road condition in the last 5 kms.

ROUTE 1192 from Inthanon to Mae Chaem is wonderful. A nice surface, but still incredibly tight, narrow, very winding & continuous sharp dips & rises. This is an exhilarating ride & one of the original roller coaster roads - I always love this one, although on a bigger bike you need to take extra care going down. Just watch out for other vehicles corner cutting or drifting onto the wrong side, you'll meet a few!

ROUTE 1088 - from Mae Chaem north to Mae Na Chon all asphalt & a delight. But be warned the road surface is a bit inconsistent & varies quite a bit. There are a few spots with sand or gravel on the road, so just back off a tad – you never know what is going to be around the next corner.
Immediately south of Mae Na Chon they are fixing the road, and there’s about 2 kms of very easy gravel.
Watch out too for the those annoying Thana Israeli jeep convoys (mass tourism at its worst!). I nearly got wiped out by one jeep coming out of a track in the bushes, no warning, suddenly just popped out into the middle of the road, before deciding which way to go! I was not impressed.
The short 7 kms dirt section that used to be immediately west of Mae Na Chon is now asphalt & bloody good too. There are fantastic views back towards Doi Inthanon as you go up the hill towards Khun Yuam. So, take the time to stop & look back from just below the top.
I note that the route number shwon right at the turn off in Mae Na Chon is 1088 and wonder how far 1088 goes – to the turn off for Mae Sa / Mae Ruam turn off? I did not have time to go further west towards Khun Yuam, so if anyone goes down this road, please try to pick up on the correct route number – 1088 or 1263. Look out for some new kms / route markers beside the road. My guess the change over is at the Mae Sa / Mae Ruam turn off. Route 1263 starts from here & goes to Khun Yuam, & 1088 goes from here to Mae Chaem & south to R108 (or maybe 1088 goes north to Mae Ruam now)?
From Mae Chaem south to R 108 the road is generally ok, although the surface varies quite a bit. From approx 10-20 kms south of Mae Chaem there are road works in progress with new asphalt being put down. Then there is a section of the old bumpy patchy surface.
There are 2 nasty right hand corners heading south, and both of these have a lot of sand / gravel on them. On the 2nd one (furtherest south) some old guy had just fallen off his bike, & was sitting there roadside with blood running down his face. As he was being looked after by some mates we did not stop. But the message was there, watch out for these nasty sandy corners. The other one, is a big one, on the steep tight spiraling descent between Mae Chaem forestry & Om Khut hot springs. I met a coal truck coming up the road on the wrong side right on the bend & had to cut over to the corresponding wrong side to avoid him & negotiate the bend, which was completely covered with sand and gravel. Interesting stuff and again good for the adrenalin flow.

ROUTE 108 – from the route 1088 turn off to Hot. Is ok. They are still working on the road in several places just a few kms west of Hot, but the surface is generally good, although if the water truck has just gone over it, the road will be nice & slippery for a few hundred metres.
Hot to Chiang Mai see earlier notes above.

Enjoy the ride.
« Last Edit: Nov 24th, 2002, 12:16am by Davidfl »