Thailand "Roadriders Paradise" 15 Days North Siam

, Thailand, Asia

  New - a Classic Bike Adventure exclusive

 


Two years in the making, we’re proud to announce a completely new tour for lovers of easy living, good food and the rush of riding on winding mountain roads – exploring the remote mountains of northern Thailand on state-of-the-art, light, easy-handling Kawasaki ER6-n touring bikes.

 

 

In cooperation with our local friends and experts in the region, we’ve put together a motorcycle tour that can hold its own with the best touring adventures in the world. We scouted the wild northern mountains of old Siam – the modern-day Thailand – a virtually unknown, world-class biking region.

Thailand – a biker’s paradise – for a touring vacation in a class of its own. 

 

 


 

Our own fleet of new Kawasaki ER6-n bikes (600cc, 72 hp, 180 kg, ABS), maintained by Joe, our German expat mechanic who has called Chiang Mai home for the past twenty years

  • Excellent, lightly-traveled roads through pristine mountain landscapes
  • Our route covers numerous cultural highlights and was worked out by Armin, a Swiss travel expert who has spent the last twenty years organizing tours through Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. Armin speaks Thai, and his knowledge of the region’s culture and history is virtually unparalleled
  • Exotic scenery, rugged landscapes and endless winding roads, including a ride up Thailand’s highest mountain (up to 2,600 m
  • Beautifully situated garden and town resorts with the comforts, excellent cuisine, outstanding service, and mostly with pools and wellness centers
  • Relaxing by the pool, wellness, and the renowned Thai massages
  • Laid-back evenings in cozy pubs and cocktail bars, often with live music, and nights by the campfire
  • Backup team with a mechanic, English-speaking Thai local guide, Road Captain Peter or Armin (as biking guides, mostly leading the way), replacement driver and backup A/C minibus for luggage and saddle-sore passengers
  • Economical weekend flights in comfortable THAI Airways aircraft, from Frankfurt via Bangkok to Chiang Mai
  • Personal consultation services and planning of tour extensions in Bangkok or Cambodia, or beach vacations on islands in southern Thailand
  • ... and here´s our Road-Map    

Organised by Classic Bike India

Thailand "Roadriders Paradise" 15 Days North Siam


Itinerary

Day 1 - Saturday

Depart Frankfurt with THAI Airways, traveling to Chiang Mai via Bangkok


Day 2 - Sunday

Arrival in CHIANG MAI

Arrival at Chiang Mai airport (international terminal). Our guide will be waiting for us at the exit of the customs hall. The following 40-minute transfer will take us to Mae Saa Valley, around 20 km north of Chiang Mai.

We’ll have dinner and spend the night at the Away Suansawan Resort in Mae Saa Valley. There’ll be plenty of time to relax after the flight, kicking back beside the pool or in your pleasant cottage, or in the hotel spa with its traditional Thai and oil massages and whirlpool.

In the evening, we’ll have a welcome dinner with the crew and a briefing on the tour, and spend the night at the resort.


Day 3 – Monday

From MAE SAA VALLEY to DOI ANGKHANG (150 km)

Breakfast will be served in the resort. We’ll leave Mae Saa Valley in the morning, heading north past Chiang Dao, after which we turn off of the busy main road and into a beautiful mountain landscape.

Our ride will take us to Arunothai, in the immediate vicinity of the Myanmar border. From there, the road will take us up the far side of Doi Angkhang hill. 
The views across the rugged landscape and into Myanmar along this hill road are truly unique. Doi Angkhang is renowned for its cool climate and its amazing wealth of flowers. It’s not surprising therefore that the Thai Royal Project Foundation chose Doi Angkhang as the site of an agricultural research station and botanical garden. The research station is located in a natural crater at an altitude of 1,900 meters, surrounded by villages populated by a variety of ethnic minorities.

Among them is Nor Lae – one of only five villages in northern Thailand that are home to the Palaung people. The costumes of the Palaung women are very conspicuous, with long, red sarong-like skirts, vests in bold colors, and enameled or silver waist rings. It’s customary for both the men and women of the Palaung to decorate their teeth with gems as an expression of their wealth and beauty. 

There’ll be time in the afternoon to visit the fascinating botanical garden. We’ll be having dinner at the Amari Angkhang Nature Resort Hotel and spending the night in its quaint wooden bungalows.


Day 4 - Tuesday

Over the hills and far away: from DOI ANGKHANG to DOI MAE SALONG (180 km)

Our day starts with a breakfast buffet in the hotel and a quiet mountain road that will put our riding skills to the test.

The road follows a ridge before dropping sharply to the plain surrounding Fang, a town known for its orchards – especially its oranges. That will put us back onto the main road running directly north from Chiang Mai, which will take us to Thatorn, near the Myanmar border. But first, a roller-coaster of a side road twists its way high up into the hills before diving steeply into the next valley – a dizzying experience. We’ll visit the modest mountain palace belonging to Princess Sirindhorn and enjoy its gorgeous view of the gorge-like Kok River valley.

Heading back into the hills, our next stop is in the village of Lorcha. Its inhabitants belong to the Akha mountain people, one of the most impoverished of Thailand’s minorities. A non-profit organization is working here to develop gentle tourism compatible with the lifestyle of the Akha. Instead of encountering souvenir stands in otherwise empty streets, visitors are taken for a walking tour of the village. An Akha guide will explain various aspects of the mountain people’s life, such as the entrance portals of the village that ward off evil spirits, traps used by the Akha to capture wild animals, the importance of the village blacksmith, the village school, and a typical Akha house in which men and women sleep in separate areas.

After our visit, we’ll head for the hills – and Doi Mae Salong. This mountain is known throughout Thailand for the Chinese village of Santi Khiri on its summit. It was founded by soldiers of the Kuomintang Army, who gathered here after Chiang Kai-shek was driven out of China by Mao Zedong. In the past, the Kuomintang was involved in the opium trade, purchasing raw opium from remote mountain tribes, transporting it by mule train and processing it into heroin in its laboratories. Today, the same Chinese community produces the finest tea in Thailand, coffee and flowers. Time permitting, we’ll travel up to the Golden Pagoda high above Santi Khiri, with its gorgeous view of the mountain village and the surrounding countryside. 

Dinner will be at a local restaurant serving typical Yunnanese cuisine. We’ll be spending the night at the Khum Nai Phol Resortin the middle of a tea plantation, with a view of Doi Mae Salong.


Day 5 - Wednesday

From DOI TUNG to the GOLDEN TRIANGLE (110 km)

Breakfast will be served in the resort. A winding road will take us from Doi Mae Salong down to Thoed Thai.

This town is situated in a zone that was virtually inaccessible before 1985. At the time, it was under the control of Khun Sa and the Muang Thai Army, a rebel group that used this rugged terrain as a safe haven in its battles against the army of Myanmar. Khun Sa was one of the world’s most wanted men for openly admitting that he was using the drug trade to finance a war of independence against Myanmar on behalf of the Shan people. In the 1990s, Khun Sa retired from his life as a warlord, settled his differences with the junta of Myanmar, and died peacefully in Yangon in 2007. While the conflict between the Shan and the army of Myanmar drags on, the Muang Thai have since been expelled to Myanmar by the Royal Thai army. We’ll see the army barracks that Khun Sa used as quarters for several thousand men. The headquarters today contains a small museum financed mainly by Khun Sa’s widow. In addition to his office and sleeping quarters, it features a collection of old photographs testifying to the military importance of the Muang Thai Army and the conflict between the Shan and the Myanmar regime.

From there, we’ll take a long, winding, deserted road from Thoed Thai to Doi Tung. A region once notorious for opium production, Doi Tung was put on track to legitimate economic success by an initiative of the present king’s mother. Coffee and flowers are grown here today, and the region’s outstanding products are in demand throughout Thailand. The king’s mother passed away several years ago, but her initiative lives on. 

We’ll stop for the unique Mae Fah Luang garden before cresting the hill and continuing down into the valley on a very steep, narrow, paved road that closely follows the Myanmar border.

Our destination is Mae Sai, the northernmost town in Thailand, from where we’ll explore the Golden Triangle, where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet at the Mekong River. 

Chiang Saen, Thailand’s most important Mekong River harbor, is not far from here. As the river links Thailand and China, it’s not unusual to encounter Chinese freighters there. Just after Chiang Saen, we’ll reach the Wat Phra That Pha Ngao temple on a hill. From there, we’ll have a panorama of Chiang Saen, the Mekong and Laos on the other bank. 

A bit further down from the viewing point is the Ubosot – a jewel of a temple, even though it was built only a few years ago. The truly outstanding carved wood of the windows and doors and the painting of the interior walls are reminiscent of a typical temple in Luang Prabang, Laos. A stupa at the foot of the hill is around 1,000 years old, a testimony to Chiang Saen’s role as the first royal capital of Thailand. From here, it’s a beautiful ride along the Mekong to the border town of Chiang Khong, the most important ferry crossing between northern Thailand and Laos. 

We’ll have dinner at the excellent Lomtawan Restaurant and spend the night at the Nam Khong Riverside Hotel with a view to the Mekong and Laos.


Day 6 - Thursday

Ascent to the PHU CHI FAH massif – and continuing to NAN, an ancient city of culture (280 km)

Breakfast will be served on the hotel terrace overlooking the Mekong. We’ll follow the Mekong River south to Wiang Khaen.

In Pang Hat we turn left onto a road that ascends steeply toward Doi Patang. The road condition starts out excellent but deteriorates until we reach the crest, where it improves again. We’ll ride up to the highest parking lot, and from there a stairway with around 200 steps will take us to the highest point. Doi Patang is also known as Pratu Siam – the gateway to Siam. This area was off-limits up until the 1990s. During the 1960s and 70s, the US Army staged operations against the Communist Pathet Lao forces from here with the assistance of the Hmong – the most important ethnic minority in Laos and also a sizeable minority in Thailand. From Pratu Siam, we can enjoy the panorama of the Laotian hills, which will remain out of our reach. On clear days, the Mekong is also visible in several places in the distance. 

After a brief descent, we’ll take the road along the ridge toward Phu (another word for hill) Chi Fah. After a brief steep climb, we’ll park and tackle the last 700 meters to the rocky terrace on foot. The view from there is truly breathtaking – it’s best first thing in the morning when the valleys below fill with fog. From there, our ride will take us down various country roads from Phu Chi Fah into the valley, past rice paddies and through rolling hills to Nan.

Dinner is in the hotel restaurant, and if you want to paint the town red, you can look forward to a pub tour and a visit to Channel X, northern Thailand’s best live rock disco. We’ll spend the night at the Sasidara Resort.


Day 7 - Friday

Sightseeing in Nan and a half-day tour through the rugged hills to the salt wells of Bo Luang (190 km)

Our day starts with breakfast in the resort. No need to check out, though, as we’ll be spending a second night in Nan.

We have a half-day tour scheduled for later in the day, but first we’ll have a closer look at Nan. For centuries, Nan was an independent kingdom. It wasn’t until 1931, after a long period of semi-autonomy, that Nan finally recognized the authority of Bangkok. While the small provincial town is not widely known, it has quite a bit of charm. We’ll start by visiting Wat Phumin, Nan’s most famous temple. Its interior murals are the finest examples of Thai Lue art to be found in Thailand. Nan’s National Museum is almost directly next door. It’s housed in an old teak palace dating back to 1903 that served as the seat of Nan’s last two feudal lords. The National Museum is one of the best provincial museums in Thailand, featuring an exhibition about the various ethnic minorities that live in the vicinity of Nan. Around noon, it’ll be time to saddle up for a curvaceous half-day tour on well-paved but lonely roads that wind their way through the hills along the border. We’ll stop for the salt grainers at Bo Luang and enjoy succulent grilled chicken as an afternoon snack.

Dinner will be at a local restaurant in Nan. We’ll spend the night at the Sasidara Resort.

 


 

Day 8 - Saturday

Long ride from NAN through two hill regions to PHRAO (340 km)

Breakfast will be served in the resort. Today we can look forward to long stretches of laid-back mountain riding on deserted roads.

We start by crossing the rice plain to reach Phayao, a town on the main highway linking Bangkok and Chiang Rai. Phayao is situated near Thailand’s largest natural fresh-water lake, and the local economy is heavily dependent on fishing and aquaculture. We’ll visit the small temple of Wat Si Khom Kham, with its 16-meter tall Buddha. Local legend has it that a disguised Naga king gave a young couple gold with which to create this statue.

The road will then lead us across over several ranges to Wang Nua and Mae Kachan. There we’ll join the busy Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai highway for a couple of kilometers before turning back onto empty roads through a rugged landscape of endless rolling hills on the way to Phrao. Although Phrao is only 90 km from Chiang Mai, this sleepy little town is hardly known and still looks much the same as other many other places in northern Thailand did twenty years ago. The local peoples from the surrounding hills come here to sell their wares on the local market. From here, it’s roughly 30 km to our stop for the night, the charming Nature Lodge, surrounded by densely forested hills. 

Local specialties will be served for dinner around the campfire, and we’ll be spending the night in the Lodge’s luxurious traditional wooden houses.


Day 9 - Sunday

From PHRAO to PAI (150 km)

Breakfast will be served in the resort. We’ll make our way to Mae Malai, taking side roads through the countryside and crossing the Ping River.

From there, we’ll head back into the hills, taking a break at the Mok Fa waterfall. A path through the forest will lead us from the parking lot to the waterfall. If you’re so inclined, feel free to enjoy a swim in this gorgeous setting. The road from here to Paisnakes its way across rugged mountain ranges. It has a reputation as the “mother of all mountain roads” in northern Thailand – one curve after another for nearly 100 km. Of course, we now know better... We’ll arrive in Pai in the afternoon.

The Hotsprings Resort, about ten km out of town, is the best hotel in the area, with a variety of thermal baths, a large pool and spa. It’s located right on the banks of the Pai River near the elephant camps. Our rooms each have their own private terrace with a hot tub – a great way to unwind in the evening.

Pai is a charming little town, its atmosphere shaped by a wide range of ethnic groups (Shan, Lisu, Lahu, Han Chinese and even Muslims) who live there in harmony. Pai is also a hotbed of the northern Thai art and music scene. A flea market takes place there every evening, with live music and cocktail bars. It’s best explored on foot. We offer several transfers from the resort to the town in our minibus. The Bebob bar regularly stages good live blues and rock – and we’ll be there! 

We’ll have dinner at a good local restaurant. Our accommodations are at the Pai Hotsprings Resort.Day 10 - Monday

Day off in Pai or optional half-day tour to the caves of Soppong (90 km)

Breakfast will be served in the resort. We’ll be taking a breather today.

That said, there’s no shortage of things to do: a half-day tour (90 km) to the deep caves of Soppong, including a boat tour of the caves, hanging out by the pool, relaxation and massages at the resort, an elephant ride through the jungle, or even a guided enduro tour on 250cc cross bikes with a full set of riding gear provided! If you’re up to it, you can also take part in an optional 3-hour trekking tour to a nearby hill village.

Dinner will be at the best pizzeria in Pai, and we’re once again spending the night at the Pai Hotsprings Resort.


Day 11 - Tuesday

The most famous of all Thai hill routes – from PAI to MAE HONG SON – a road with 1,048 curves! (140 km)

Breakfast will be served in the resort. Today we’re going to tackle two mountainous sections with no less than 1,048 curves on the road to Mae Hong Son via Soppong

High up in the hills, we’ll stop at a market where women of the Lisu people sell their wares, and to take in the amazing view across the rugged countryside, deep into Myanmar. We’ll stop for the fish cave, an attraction especially popular with Thai tourists, and reach Mae Hong Son around noon. 
Mae Hong Son is an ethnic melting pot. Thai Yai (Shan), Chinese, Akha, Lisu, Hmong, Muslims and Karen coexist peacefully here. 
First, we’ll visit the typical Burmese temples Wat Nong Jong Kam and Wat Jong Klang, in the center of town, on the bank of a pretty lake. The streets of Mae Hong Son are perfect for a stroll, and the people-watching is outstanding. 
In the afternoon, we can either relax by the pool of the idyllic Ferns Resort, located in a cool river valley about 10 km out of town, or explore a fascinating jungle trail with a guide. We’ll also have the opportunity to get to know the small town with its hill temples, markets and cozy Crossroads Pub.

Dinner will be at a good local restaurant, and we’ll be staying at the Ferns Resort.


Day 12 - Wednesday

Boat trip to the long-neck village on the River Pai – half-day bike tour or relaxing in the afternoon

After breakfast, we’ll take a boat up the Pai River to Ban Nam Pian Din, a Padaung village.

The Padaung belong to the Kayah or Karenni tribes of Myanmar. The continuous conflicts between the Myanmar regime and most of the country’s ethnic minorities over the years prompted hundreds of Padaung to flee across the border to Thailand, where they now live in “long-neck camps”. The expression “long-neck” refers to the Padaung women’s custom of wearing copper rings around their necks. The weight of the rings presses down on their shoulder muscles, and further rings are added whenever their necks permit. The women are thus known as “long-neck” or “giraffe” women in Thailand.

We’ll have lunch in the hotel resort and take the afternoon off. Kick back, relax, have a massage, go for a trek, take the bike and hang out in Mae Hong Son – the choice is yours. Dinner will be served at Ferns Resort.


Day 13 - Thursday

Long, long mountain ride from MAE HONG SON to MAE SARIANG (300 km)

We’ll start the day with a hearty breakfast in the resort. We then leave Mae Hong Son, heading south to Khun Yuam, situated on a plateau. 

During World War II, Khun Yuam was the site of a major Japanese air force base that was used to stage bombing raids over Burma. The grass strip of the airfield can still be made out today, and we’ll visit the small museum dedicated to the war. From Khun Yuam, we’ll make a side trip into the hills to see the Mae Surin waterfall, one of the most beautiful in Thailand. Our ride then continues on well-maintained but lightly traveled highways across the plateau to Mae Sariang.

Dinner will be in a cozy restaurant by the river, and we’ll spend the night at the River House Resort.


Day 14 - Friday

From MAE SARIANG to Thailand’s highest mountain, Doi Inthanon (2,565 m) and on to CHIANG MAI (280 km)

Breakfast will be served in the resort. Today’s final leg is literally the high point of the tour – once again, we take to the hills, crossing several nameless ridges and heading into the rugged valley of Tha Rua, where we will turn in a northerly direction toMae Chaem.

After Mae Chaem, we’ll take an extremely narrow, steep road up the far side of Thailand’s highest mountain, Doi Inthanon (2,565 m). The national park of the same name high up on the mountain is a paradise for bird lovers and home to incredible biodiversity. After a stop at the summit, we’ll continue to Chomthong in the valley and on to Chiang Mai.

After dinner, we’ll visit the night market and one of the town’s many bustling pubs. Our accommodations will be in deluxe rooms of the very stylish De Naga Hotel, in the center of Chiang Mai’s old city.


Day 15 - Saturday

CHIANG MAI! The bike tour is over

Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Today is a free day. Chiang Mai has a lot to offer – shopping, cultural highlights and a lively pub and bar scene

You can also head out to Doi Suthep, a mountain near Chiang Mai, the site of the Wat Doi Suthep temple. According to an ancient legend, the monk Sumana gave the reigning king a relic of Buddha. He tied the relic onto the back of a royal white elephant, which then wandered through the forests for days. The elephant chose a spot, knelt down and promptly died. The king and the Sumana then decided to build the Wat Doi Suthep at precisely that location.

Farewell dinner at a popular restaurant by the river with live music; Accommodation at the DeNaga Hotel Resort.


Day 16 - Sunday

Return flight from CHIANG MAI to Europe

Breakfast will be served in the hotel. We then have a transfer to the airport, flying back to Frankfurt via Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International.




As always on adventure tours that leave the beaten path, the route and schedule is subject to change!

 

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