Cycling in Asia forum

Northeast of north Thailand (Phrae-Nan-Phayao-Chiang Rai): worth visiting?

  • koen31

    Joined Travelfish
    7th August, 2005
    Posts: 7

    Dear all,

    In Februari we land in Bangkok for our next cycle trip.
    We were thinking about exploring by bicycle the northeast of north Thailand, which is the region of Phrae, Phayao, Phayao, Chiang Rai.
    Has anyone already cycled this region of Thailand ? How did you experience this region ? Comparable to the other regions in north Thailand ?
    Or does anybody know where I can find information about it ? I was in fact looking for travel reports or things like that.

    Another question : is there a malaria risk in the border area with Laos ?

    We have been to Thailand before. Two years ago we cycled from Nong Khai to Chiang Mai, and also visited the north of Thailand (Golden Triangle - Chiang Khong region).

    Thanks in advance,

    Koen

    #1 Posted: 28/12/2007 - 20:19

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  • somtam2000

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    Hi Koen,

    I've been all through there, but by motorbike rather than bicycle! This feature on the ChiangRai loop covers some of the territory -- Phu Chee Fah in particular I'd recommend -- though it's a lot of pedalling!

    Phayao has some great out of the way spots -- Check out Phayao section for a place called Phu Lang Ka -- tremendous spot that you won't read about in guidebooks...

    It's very little touristed compared to other parts of the north -- especially the area from Chiang Khong south to Phu Lang Ka via Phayao province.

    Ask away if you've more questions.

    Cheers

    #2 Posted: 28/12/2007 - 21:31

  • Guernseystu

    Joined Travelfish
    10th July, 2007
    Posts: 108

    I suggest that you include Pai, Tum Lod and Mae Hong Son in your itinerary if you have enough time. It was great by scooter and, I imagine, even better by bicycle.

    #3 Posted: 29/12/2007 - 02:20

  • koen31

    Joined Travelfish
    7th August, 2005
    Posts: 7

    Somtam2000,

    Thank you for your answer. We will check out these places (Phu Chee Fah and Phu Lang Ka), it sure sounds attractive...

    What about the region around lake Sirikit ?
    I see that there's a road going north, at the eastern side of the lake. Do you know anything about accomodation there ? Because that is quite an important issue for choosing a particular route. Can we find something on this website ?

    Regards,

    Koen

    #4 Posted: 29/12/2007 - 23:07

  • somtam2000

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    Hi Koen,

    Not much on Travelfish outside of the main centres I'm sorry, but please ask and I'll help where I can!

    Most of the action on Lake Sirikit is on the southern side of the lake -- as far as I know there's very little on the north side. So if you're thinking of approaching it via Wiang Sa, Na Noi and Na Muan, I'm not sure how far you'd be able to get. The village of Ban Pak Nai, which is south of Na Muan is a popular spot for Nan-folk hanging out on the weekend, eating and drinking...perhaps you can get a boat from there...see below.

    Years ago I met an Austrian cyclist who went from Phayao to Nong Khai by bicycle, I don't remember his route exactly, but it was along Route 1123/1268/2195 -- along the lines of Phayao - Wiang Sa - Ban Khok - Na Haeo - Tha Li and then onwards along the Mekong. Now I do remember him saying something about getting a boat to take him across a big lake -- so it could be he went south from Na Muan and get a car ferry (or something that floated) across a portion of the lake, before continuing onto Ban Khok -- I'm not sure to be honest.

    As far as accommodation goes, you'll find basic lodgings in most Thai towns -- I can't think of a town I've been to in northern Thailand that didn't have at least a basic hotel catering to travelling businesspeople etc.

    I'd suggest drawing up a rough routing and then when you're in a major centre (eg Phayao, Nan etc) ask in a hotel if there are hotels in the places you're going and amend your trip accordingly. Outside of the provincial capitals you'll get very very little in the way of tourist-orientated guesthouses.

    More questions? ask away!

    #5 Posted: 30/12/2007 - 07:26

  • koen31

    Joined Travelfish
    7th August, 2005
    Posts: 7

    Somtam2000,

    Thanks again for yopur answer/
    I also heard that story of a cyclist who took a boat from Tha Pla to the north of lake Sirikit. If I remember right, that person also said that it was possible to find some accomodation there in Tha Pla.

    I also know somebody who cycled from Chat Trakan up north, along the 1268, 1241

    #6 Posted: 31/12/2007 - 21:23

  • koen31

    Joined Travelfish
    7th August, 2005
    Posts: 7

    Somtam2000,

    Thanks again for yopur answer/
    I also heard that story of a cyclist who took a boat from Tha Pla to the north of lake Sirikit. If I remember right, that person also said that it was possible to find some accomodation there in Tha Pla.

    I also know somebody who cycled from Chat Trakan up north, along the 1268, 1241

    #7 Posted: 31/12/2007 - 21:23

  • koen31

    Joined Travelfish
    7th August, 2005
    Posts: 7

    Sorry, I submitted the message by accident...

    Somtam2000,

    Thanks again for your answers.
    I also heard that story of a cyclist who took a boat from Tha Pla to the north of lake Sirikit. If I remember right, that person also said that it was possible to find some accomodation there in Tha Pla.

    I also know somebody who cycled from Chat Trakan up north, along the 1268, 1241 and the 1083.
    He told me there is no guesthouse along this part. I think he slept in the little village Ban Khok, in a "town hall". He described the road as very nice.

    I was in fact thinking about the following itinerary :
    - the train from Bangkok to Uttaradit.
    - From Uttaradit to Tha Pla, and then possibly the boat up north and then to Na Mun - Na Noi and Chiang Kham;
    or :
    - From Uttaradit to Nam Pat, Fak Tha and then to Na Noi and Chiang Kham.
    If all this should be too difficult, we could go from Uttaradit to Phrae, and then continuing to Chiang Kham.

    Then we could continue from Chiang Kham to Pua, and then trying to explore this "border corner" (Chiang Klang, Bo Klua, and maybe taking the road from there along the Laos border to Ban Huai Kon and further to Thung Chang.

    - After that we could proceed to Chiang Kham (I see on the map that there is a mountain pass to take).
    - From Chiang Kham, we could try to stay as close to the border as possible, along Phu Chi Fah, then to Pha Tang and Wiang Khan.

    But maybe all this will be quite challenging... But I think it will be possible if we can find lodging on a reasonable distance from each other.

    I don't know in how far it's possible to ask locals to stay during the night if there is no guesthouse or hotel available ? I heard stories it's possible, but I have never done that in fact...

    We also have to check about how many kilometers we're talking here, just to know how much time there will be left after this part.

    If you should have any suggestions, please let us know, we'd be happy to hear it.

    Kind regards, and have a nice year-end !

    Koen

    #8 Posted: 31/12/2007 - 21:42

  • somtam2000

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    I've done some of those routes -- but all by motorbike. Thung Chang to Ban Huay Khon is a great ride, and after Ban Huay Khon (where there is a guesthouse, but you can't cross the border) the road is simply spectacular, but extremely steep -- switchback after switchback all the way down and all the way up again -- we did about 10km without getting out of first gear ;-)

    Once it settles down it's a great, relaxing, downhill ride to Bo Kleau, a lot of it by a river -- very pretty.

    I don't know how fast you peddle, but Chiang Kham to Pua in a day is long. It doesn't stick in my mind as being all that hilly -- we rode Chiang Kham to Bamboo Huts (up near the National Park entrance) and that took a good part of a day.

    The road up to Phu Chi Fah is an interest one -- it's very steep at the start and end, but the middle strip stays at a fairly set higher altitude so is mostly flat -- tremendous scenery looking back to the west and stacks of guesthouses (aimed at weekending Thais, many are closed on weekdays) -- Phu Chi Fah itself is terrific.

    #9 Posted: 2/1/2008 - 19:07

  • koen31

    Joined Travelfish
    7th August, 2005
    Posts: 7

    Can I assume that the steep roads you descrive here above, are comparable to the road to Doi Mae Salong ?
    Am I right ? Or isn't it that bad ?

    Regards,

    Koen

    #10 Posted: 2/1/2008 - 22:55

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  • somtam2000

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    The road after Ban Huay Kon is steeper, but otherwise, nothing worse than around DMS.

    #11 Posted: 3/1/2008 - 05:24

  • koen31

    Joined Travelfish
    7th August, 2005
    Posts: 7

    We are already a bit further in our planning of our bike trip. We will probably take the train to Uttaradit, and visit also Phrae. After that we woould like to continue to the Sirikit lake.
    One option is to try to find a boat which would take us from Tha Pla to the north of the lake (probably to Ban Pak Nai), after which we would continue to Na Noi.

    Anoter option is to go by bike, and to take the road east of the lake (1047), and then continue to Fak Tha and Na Noi.

    I did some research about the area around the Sirikit lake. Problem is that it is hard to find where the guesthouses are located.

    At the north side of the lake, in Ban Pak Nai, should be some accomodation possible. It is appearantly a fishing village (see for example http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/7153/utadit.htm or http://www.hotelthailand.com/travelinfo/north/nan.html).

    Does anyone know where to find other guesthouses in this area (Fak Tha, or further up nortth) ?
    Isn't there any tourist office which could provide this information ?

    I think the 1043 road should be very scenic, that's why we consider taking it, but without accomodation, this should be iompossible...

    Thanks again,

    regards,

    Koen

    #12 Posted: 11/1/2008 - 18:39

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