We left Chang Mai on our motorbikes and climbed, dipped and twisted our way, as if on a gentle roller coaster, through rugged limestone mountains and forested peaks, eventually emerging into the rural countryside of the Mae Sa River. The nearby Mae Sa waterfalls in the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park was well worth the detour. The park was not busy, with mostly locals going for a swim. The natural pools that formed near the base of the falls made the perfect swimming spot.
From Thong Pha Phum to Sangkhlaburi the road becomes rough in sections, but it is also one of the most beautiful stretches of road in Thailand.
We took it slow, bumped and wound our way through remote towns with a mixture of tribal people, including Burmese, Karen, Mon, Thai and Lao. The diversity of cultures was impressive, and that despite the different languages everyone appeared to get along nicely. Pai and Mae Sariang stood out as places I wish we’d stayed longer at; loved the markets, food and friendly locals.
Overall the riding was excellent, especially the meandering flat river country and dramatic mountain passes surrounded by lush forests and plantations. Some sections have just enough bends and curves that are really fun, without getting your heart pumping. Other sections however are far more curvy, but also scenic and beautiful. We took it slow and easy up and down the steep hills and the tighter bends, stopping regularly for rest and snack breaks at small villages and scenic lookouts. The vegetation and temperature changed noticeably with altitude, being far cooler higher up. The high mountain passes give way to aroma-filled and picturesque valleys, dotted with small farming villages and crops. Lots of spectacular vistas and fun curves to take at speed though, if you’re feeling ready. One of the best experiences of my life. A trip that will stay with us both forever.
John and Stacey