Wonderful Off-Roading in the North


Dec 9, 2008
Chris and I decided to head from the Golden Triangle to the Salween river for some offroad fun. It was early February, so a good time, just before the hazy season.


Took a late start the first day for an easy run, heading west on 1089, nearly to Thaton, then turned south to Wawi on the 3037 then NW again on a trail to Fang. Some burning across the mountains on the west side of the Lam Nam Kok NP.


Fang City Pillar


The attractive multi-tiered roof of the Shan temple of Wat Jong Paen.


We headed to the checkpoint at the bottom of the "extremely steep" Nor Lae road, but the soldiers would not let us through this time. They said a car had had a failure on the road recently plus tourists were taking photos of the Burmese army camp which had made them quite unhappy.... They even had a printout in English to hand to people who arrived there. Locals still go up there of course. Shame, as the Palaung village of Nor Lae is fascinating.
Headed back to the 107 and then up the main road to Doi Angkhang. Then turned south onto the wonderful ridge road 1340.


General Lee's house in Tham Gop, unfortunately closed..

Then across to Arunothai for lunch. South on 1178 then turned west again on the lovely road 1322 through the forest to Wiang Haeng, then south on some trails down to the 1095.


Had a quick cooling dip in the Maenam Taeng.


Lovely spot.

After a night in Pai, we headed down to Watchan and had hot spring boiled eggs for breakfast, on the way.


After Watchan, we continued SW on some great trails to Pang Ung on the 1263.


Skies were clear and scenery fantastic.


This trail was a dead end but good fun....


We crossed the main road and continued SW on more great trails through remote villages, through Ko Pe and out onto the 108 at Hang Pon. Then blasted south to Mae Sariang for the night.


This map on the hotel wall gives an indication of the fun possibilities in the area.


The next day (epic day), we decided to head out to the Salween river on the dirt road to Mae Sakoep. However, about halfway along, a small track leading off to the north looked interesting, so we headed that way.

This turned out to be a great choice and led to one of the best day's dirt bike riding I've ever done, through a very remote area.

After about 5 klms of great bike-only trail over the mountains, we dropped into a valley and came to a Karen village on a small river. The locals told us it was possible to ride out to the Salween so we followed their "it's that way" directions.....
We realised we were following a small river NW out to the Salween.

We were riding in the river and across the river from one side to the other, for about 2 hours. The river was up to the wheel spindles a lot of the time, with 50m stretches of water at a time to ride through. This seemed to go and on..... Absolutely fantastic ride through the jungle and saw no-one.


Chris checking his emails....?!?




bloody tree roots.......

At last we popped out at the Salween river.


After deciding we didn't want to ride all the way back the way we had come, we asked the local government office about getting a boat downriver. "No boats available, must go north alongside the river for 10 klms to next village".


Common Kingfisher.


This trail alongside the Salween was great and quite technical in places.

By mid afternoon we arrived in the village of Bahn Lor. At the army post, the officer was helpful but again..... no boats...
He called on the radio to his friends downriver, but..... no boats.

After an hour or two, a young guy appeared and said he could get a boat..... from the other side of the river.


Although considered part of Burma by the Rangoon government, this area across the river is the Karen National Union and the Burmese authorities have no power here. We agreed a price of 6500 Baht to take us and bikes downriver to Mae Sam Laep. Quite tricky getting the bikes down to the river and onto the boat.....


It was a 2 hour ride which seemed far superior to staying the night in the hut here....

The boatman pulled down the KNU flag and hoisted the Thai flag on his boat and off we go.. 007..... cool....


Fantastic............ even in the remotest areas............ can still find a beer......



Had to pull in to the checkpoint on the Karen side, even with the Thai flag on the boat....






A KNU camp and village


It was late afternoon when we arrived at Mae Sam Laep.

Tricky again to get the bikes back up the riverbank over the sandbanks to the road.


Got back into Mae Sariang in time for some well earned Leos......

This is the track we took to Bahn Lor. Half the distance from Mae Sariang to the Salween is riding the river. We did actually ride north a klm further alongside the river past Banh Lor, but the trail stopped.


An Epic day indeed.

Next day, we headed east from Mae Sariang on the 108, then north up the 1270, skirting and then crossing the Mae Tho NP. Lots of opportunity for practising dirt bike riding techniques of drifting round corners, which once mastered gives great confidence on loose surface bends.

Enroute, we pulled into a school on a mountain ridge, where the teacher offered us some lunch and a room to stay if we were tired. Wow.... room with a view...


Of course the teacher refused to take any money for the lunch they gave us, so we made a donation to the school, which was appreciated.


Caution; traffic obstruction ahead...



Stayed at the Navasoung in Mae Chaem for the night.


Next day headed east from Mae Chaem, on 1192, then skirted round Inthanon, up north on the 1284. More rough dirt roads for corner drifting riding.


Just after a Khao Soi lunch, we were heading to Bo Kaeo, west of Samoeng, when Chris went down hard on a horrible bit of trail, with concrete tyreways and covered in talcum powder dust. Luckily the nearest hospital was nearby.

The crack in the engine outer cover leaked some oil when the bike was on the ground, but no problem when upright and the bike was rideable.



After transferring to Samoeng hospital, an xray showed no broken bones, so only a large painful bruise on the left ankle. Riding wasn't possible, so Chris had to head home in a car.

But a fantastic ride was had, certainly the day out to the Salween was an absolute cracker.



Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
Wow that looks like an epic North Thai dirt road adventure ride if it ever was.

I'm glad you got out to the Salween west of Mae Sarieng as that is a mighty river too & has some amazing dirt roads / trails going out there to make it almost any ride there a challenge.

These 2 pics are beauties


& I think give a great impression of how remote & stunning the natural beauty is out there.

Chris must be thinking he is a lucky man alright, dumping the bike on the easy stuff so close to a hospital & home. It could have been a lot worse out there on the single track beside the Salween.

Thanks for the report & pics.

See you in a few days when the smoke starts to clear. ;)


Jan 5, 2008
Wow, what a ride. That boat trip looks like a ripper.

Thanks for the gps track, that's now on my must do list.

I stopped at the spot where you guys went swimming a couple of weeks ago but didn't go for a dip. That really is a nice ride through there. There was a lot of army presence the day I rode there.

Great ride report Ian, some good helpful information, and the video shows how much of a good time you guys had.

I hope Chris's ankle is Ok.

Thanks for sharing



Oct 23, 2009
Envy you young guys to go splatching around such nice trails. It’s a good idea to shower and wash the bikes in clear waters :p It seems to be a great place for pictures and I am happy to see the illustrations, as I am unlikely to follow on your tracks any time, soon or late :shifty:
Mar 30, 2010
Absolute ripper report Ian.

Bond, Ian Bond.
The boatman pulled down the KNU flag and hoisted the Thai flag on his boat and off we go.. 007..... cool....