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Heading south from Chom Thong, the valley and road swing south, narrow and become more scenic as the route heads into the hills for the 32 km stretch to Hot. Hot! Frankly the best thing about it is the name -- vying with Fang as top of the interesting names of Chiang Mai Province table. There's a small market, a 7-eleven, several noodle shops and the de rigueur karaoke bar but that's about it though it does have one decent play to stay in.

Turning left after Hot Town centre will take you south towards the even remoter Doi Tao along another scenic mountain road whilst turning right will take you up the even more scenic route following the Mae Chaem River gorge towards Mae Sariang. (Either way if you're on a motorbike fill-up before leaving Hot!) Limestone cliffs line both sides of the steep valley and the river tumbles over rocks and cascades below.

The best viewpoint is at Ob Luang National Park, (17 kms out of Hot, entrance on the side of the main road), where the gorge narrows to just a few metres spanned by a small wooden bridge that would give Spiderman vertigo. Mind you this is national park so it's not free and unfortunately they charge a rather high 200 baht entrance fee for foreigners.

If you just want a quick peek at the view maybe forget it, but if you are going to spend a bit of time wandering around, and they have set up some good and fairly extensive hiking trails taking in rock features, ancient rock paintings, aforementioned bridge and various viewpoints, then the dramatic landscape probably warrants the entrance fee.

Five kilometres past Ob Luang a turning on the right takes Route 1088 north to Mae Chaem from where you can cut back down to Doi Inthanon and Chom Thong. (45kms of relatively straight valley road to Mae Chaem).


Continuing west however, the road rises, winds, rises and winds again until you hit the conifer tree-line and you start wondering if you're in the right country. Grassy alpine meadows break up the vistas of pine forests where gaps between the trees allow truly awesome views across truly awesome mountain scenery -- you almost expect Julie Andrews, in nun's garb, to come prancing over a hill top bursting into song, though the occasional side tracks lead to remote Karen villages rather than Austrian nunneries!

Note well there are very few villages of any consequence on this 100+ km stretch to Mae Sariang and thus very few petrol opportunities! Note also if bad weather comes up or during the winter months it can get decidedly chilly up there. After covering some three quarters of the distance the route abruptly stops climbing and descends into Mae Sariang at a fairly steep gradient.



Text and/or map last updated on 4th November, 2009.

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