The Phu Chi Fah / Chiang Khong Loop

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by DavidFL, Dec 1, 2003.

  1. The Phu Chi Fah / Chiang Khong Loop
    Date: Sat 30th – Sun 31st November 2003
    Chiang Mai – Phayao – Chiang Kham – Phu Chi Fah – Chiang Khong – Payamengrai – Chiang Rai – Chiang Mai.
    Routes: 118 – 120 – 1021 – 1093 – 1155 – 1020 – 1174 – 1152 – 1020 – 1 – 118.
    Distance: 700 kms approx.

    A quick overnight trip to check out the fantastic views on route 1093 along the Lao border.

    Silverhawk & I got away from the Chiang Mai super at 9.45 am, only 45 mins behind schedule after big Robert piked out.
    Route 118 heading north is in pretty good nick, after they’ve patched over all the bumpy stuff, leaving smooth asphalt, with just a few bumps!
    Traffic is quite busy, typical for high season, and you have to watch out for oil / diesel on the road in places. Both Silverhawk & I found it with the resultant slide, just after crossing the ridgeline and started heading down. You’ve been warned - the road is a bit dirty in places! Apart from this no trouble.

    From Mae Kachan, route 120 is a race track, except for the same old spring leaking water all over the road right on the crest of the hill, just before you hit Wang Nua. If you’re heading East towards (Wang Nua), watch out for it, as it can get you into trouble cranked over & riding hard!
    From Wang Nua – route 1, route 120 is a but bumpy in places, with an uneven road surface - too much subsidence in places.

    Route 1021 from route 1 is now 4-lane out to Dok Kham Thai & good for a blast. After Dok Kham Thai the road is still quite ok, fast & flowing, although we did find a couple of spots with patchy asphalt, just to snap you to attention. We had an interesting encounter with a small Daihatsu Mira that was “cruising” at 120 kph – I was impressed & figured that the Mira was right on the limit, but the driver was good, & maintained a steady speed with no stupid maneuvers. Well done in a Mira!!

    We hit Chiang Kham at 12.20 & took a lunch break at the good ol Boutong restaurant. 40 minutes after we were back on the road & looking for route 1093 to head out to Huak & the Lao border.
    Picking up on route 1093 is a bit tricky as there are two 1093s, where it loops back onto route 1021.
    I made a mistake & took the 1st one, closest to Chiang Kham, but realized after just a few hundred meters & turned back.
    The correct turn off is just a couple of kms north, & signposted with huge Highways Dept signs – Huak & Phu Chi Fah – you can’t miss it!
    Route 1093 starts off as a gem of nice little winding rural country back road. Not far out from the start, there is the pretty little Pusang waterfall that is a top local picnic spot. After Huak route 1093 heads up into the hills right along the border, and is a real delight to ride – tens of kms of wonderful smooth, flowing constantly winding 3rd gear corners.


    The closer you get to the Phu Chi Fa turn off, the more guesthouses & mini resorts you see. All this strikes me as a bit odd - how can they build these places in what is supposed to be a national park?
    Anyway, the whole Phu Chi Fah is rapidly being built up & it is easy to image that in the coming weeks, especially New Year, it is going to be totally overrun, with hundreds, if not thousands of Thai tourists. That means for bikers looking for nice clean uncrowded roads - stay away until after New Year, it aint going to be much fun in the coming weeks!
    We also had bad luck with the weather, as it was overcast & cloudy, so they were absolutely no clear views, which is what we were looking for & expecting – glorious crystal clear blues skies with a nice cool breeze blowing. Because of this we declined to take the short ride (& hike) up to Phu Chi Fa.)


    Heading north along the border after Phi Chi Fah, there are 2 short narrow stony dirt sections of road.


    Total distance less than 6 ½ kms.
    Eventually you end up in the old Chinese KMT village of Pha Tang. From Pha Tang there are 2 very steep roads down, both of them broken dirt / asphalt & rough in places. The easiest way down is the longer less steep section that you need to turn right for at the T when you hit Pha Tang coming from Phu Chi Fah.

    After Pha Tang you hit route 1155 and head north to run alongside the Mekong


    before coming to route 1020 & turning right for Chiang Khong.

    In Chiang Khong it was “business as usual”, & we stayed at the Tamila ghouse, had happy hour with Maleewan at Rimtaling, ate at the Bamboo & drank at the Tepee. It was cold & quiet, so I was in bed 11.30 pm.

    Next day it was a leisurely morning with brekky at the Tamila & a quiet chug around town to check things out. Chiang Khong’s awfully nice, quiet and clean – a wonderful escape from the city life of Chiang Mai.
    We hit the road at 12.20 pm, and headed south, Silverhawk for Nan, and me for Chiang Mai. At Thing Ngiu, we split up & I headed straight home for Chiang Mai, riding non-stop & reaching the super at 3.25 pm. Silverhawk’s still out there riding in Nan, enjoying the good life.

    Check out pages 142-143 of the Golden Triangle Motorcycle Guide for more info on route 1093 Chiang Kham - Chiang Khong.

    Keep the power on
  2. Just a short note but I hope you guys saw the front page of the Bkk Post on Jan 3rd. There's a pic of the "football crowds" at Phu Chi Fah & a claim that "about 50,000 tourists visited PCF on New Year's Eve / daily.” Just think 50,000 people a day, with 20 people to a mini bus / pick up = 2,500 vehicles. That’s one hell of a traffic jam in the mountains. This claim stretches my farang imagination bit far, however the point is, if you’re a biker stay from PCF & route 1093 on New Year's Eve.

    Keep the power on

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