The Chiang Khong Loop via Thoed Thai


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
DATE: Tues 2nd – Thurs 4th March

THE WAY: Chiang Mai – Fang – Tha Ton – Doi Mae Salong- Thoed Thai – Doi Tung – Mae Sai – Golden Triangle – Chiang Saen – Chiang Khong. Return Chiang Khong – Golden Triangle – Chiang Saen – Mae Chan – Chiang Rai – Chiang Mai.

THE ROUTES: Outward ride = 108 – 1089 – 1234 – 1149 – 1290 - 1129. Inward ride = 1129 – 1290 – 1016 – 1 – 118.

DISTANCE: 790 kms approx.

A short 2-night 3-day trip to check on maps & roads.

John “street-corner” Skinner & I got away from the city early at 9.00 am, a mere 30 mins behind the planned departure.
The early departure was a bit of a miracle for me of late, but it was required on account of the lengthy ride to Chiang Khong via Thoed Thai, plus a planned side trip into Tachilek to pick up some new music CDS.

The traffic was heavy and it stayed that way until just after Chiang Dao where it thinned out a little.
The weather was smoky & foggy weather with no sun to make it nice and cool for real pleasant riding.

Just north of Chiang Dao at the Na Wai / route 1178 turn off you can see what appears to be a major new road cut to the west, for a Chiang Dao by-pass road? It’s good to see they’ve got onto this, as negotiating Chiang Dao is often a pain on account of the narrow road & the busy marketplace. We also hit the regular Tuesday ‘Talad nut” market immediately north of town & the traffic really did suck for a km or two (that’s a long way isn’t it?)

Anyway riding with John was fun, as he seemed to adapt to the Honda 400 Superpsort very well, and that bike’s quite a bit different to his old BMW R75. I only managed to get away from him in the twisties on account of superior road knowledge, but he was never far behind.

First stop was at Tha Ton by the Kok River. We took a lengthy 20 mins break here, and were eventually moved on by the Akha ladies pestering us for a trinket sale.
Doi Mae Salong was next and road improvements on route 1089 / 1234, from about 8 kms south of Mae Salong to Mae Salong are all complete. The surface now is racetrack quality, with bright new lines painted on the road, plus armco railing on all the tricky bends.
I was particularly impressed with the armco & thought about the Jap guy with whom I was riding in early December, and who went over the edge on one of the nastier steep decreasing radius bends. That one really hurt – he broke his back & totally trashed the bike. The bike landed 80 meters down in the stream, and the rider a mere 40 meters down, saved by the bamboo thicket! Unbelievably he never lost consciousness and remained coherent throughout the entire ordeal.

This scary little incident was still in my mind 8 kms down the road as I stopped to take a GPS waypoint, and a song taew pulled up along side signaling that a rider had gone down behind me – John! Shyte, here we go again I thought. I immediately turned around & chugged back up the road 2 kms where he was just picking up his bike with some help from another motorcyclist. Greatly relieved, I saw that the damage was minimal – broken instrument panel & front brake lever, & a seriously embarrassed rider. John claims he was watching me cornering, lost sight of what he was supposed to be doing & ran off the road! Now this all happened on one of the steepest descents where the road was bloody slippery, & I slipped on the asphalt trying to help pull the bike back on the road, so maybe it was not just all John’s day dreaming?
We chugged back into Doi Mae Salong, and 45 mins later the bike was fixed & we were back on the road. There are a couple of small bike shops in Doi Mae Salong, and what appeared to be the best one is at the south (Tha Ton) end of town next to the PTT petrol station. So if you ever need help in DMS then check this one out.

13 kms down the road at Akha Sam Yaek we split up, with John opting to take it easy & go straight down the main road, route 1130, to Mae Chan & Mae Sai. I stayed on course & took the wild route via Thoed Thai & Huai Mu & Doi Tung. If you’ve never done these roads check them out sometime, as they are totally awesome biking roads. They are all very steep & extremely winding with continual blind bends. Thoed Thai – Doi Tung is especially exhilarating and always give me a real buzz. It’s very steep, narrow & extremely winding – as good as you can get with endless corners, plus the switchbacks either side of Pha Bur are amazing and you can get giddy tackling these!
The Thoed Thai – Doi Tung section is also very narrow – just 1 car wide – so you have to watch yourself all the time. There are countless blind bends & any oncoming car will give you a sharp wake up call. And make no mistake, as there’s no run off so almost nowhere to go. Along here it helps to ride with your visor up and no earplugs, so that you can hear anything that might be coming round the next narrow blind bend.
Note too that these roads are now all asphalt now, after they did some road improvements earlier last year. (See P114-115 of the Golden Triangle guidebook if you need more info.)

2 hrs later I rolled into Mae Sai at 4.20 pm & John was patiently sitting at the Rim Nam restaurant sipping on an ice-cold beer. I’d guessed 1 ½ hrs from Sam Yaek up to Mae Mo & across to Mae Sai via Doi Tung, 30 mins late was not too bad.
It was a mad dash across the bridge to Mr. Guitar music CD shop in Tachilek for a few quick purchases then back into Thailand before they closed the gates.
John & I were back on the road by 5.15 pm.
The run from Mae Sai across to Chiang Khong via the GTriangle & Chiang Saen was a beauty with the sun going down & beautiful mauve & pink colours reflecting in the evening sky over the Mekong.

Chiang Khong’s my fave up country town & within 45 mins of arriving we were showered, cleaned up & enjoying a few cold drinks overlooking the Mekong at Maleewan’s Rimtaling Restaurant & Ghouse. Don’t miss Rimtaling for a happy hour drink at sunset in Chiang Khong!
Later that evening it was the usual feast on Mexican food at the Bamboo & a few drinks at The Madam Pub, Chiang Khong’s # 1 teenage (& not so teenage) nightspot. The scene here’s pretty good if you like loud music, & lady boy singers & dancers. Then when sexy little Om gets on stage to sing it seems surreal, as there’s Om about 4 foot nothing with 2 foot shoes on, looking like she’s about 12 yrs of age, (but she’s 20), with big lady boy dancers behind her on stage. It pretty weird, but that’s part of what makes Thailand such a great place to be in a lot of the time.

Wednesday was busy checking on maps & mates in Chiang Khong.
That night was another repeat, happy hour at the Rimtaling, but dinner at the Chai Khong, and then The Madam before hitting the sack at midnight.
Thurs was a quick trip over to Huay Sai to check on maps, and then make a dash back to Chiang Mai.

(Anyone else want to write up their trips - hint hint!)

Keep the power on