If you have holiday time coming to you over Chinese New Year, please consider our 5-DAY GOLDEN TRIANGLE EAST Motorcycle Tour.
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Click here, if you have not yet read, What’s so special, anyway, about a Golden Triangle Motorcycle Tour?
5-DAY GOLDEN TRIANGLE EAST TOUR ITINERARY
Our FIRST DAY’s ride to Nan is the easiest one on the tour. This will allow you to familiarize yourself, relatively stress free, with your bike and road conditions, as well as get a handle on the style of driving practiced (or not practiced) by the average Thai citizen.
After driving up and down a couple of gentle mountain passes on a mostly wide and forgiving road, we stop for lunch on the shore of the largest lake in northern Thailand. Their local specialty is a delicious, barbequed fish plucked right out of the lake waters. After that, we have another relaxed ride along the outskirts of a national park and across rolling farming terrain before starting our first hair-raising riding segment through the western mountains of Nan Province.
If we are making good time, there is an optional side trip to a Mlabri hilltribe village. The Mlabri are a true hunter-gatherer ethnic group and only a hundred or so Mlabris have survived into the 21st-Century. Until just a short time ago, they roamed the forests wearing nothing more than loin clothes in a nomadic, Stone Age-like existence. Very few groups like the Mlabri are left in our world.
Our first night’s lodging is in the provincial capital of NAN and home to Wat Phumin, one of the most important temples in the north. The interior walls of Wat Phumin are covered with colorful murals from the late 1800’s that depicts Thai secular life from that period as well as depicting the arrival of the first Europeans. The art style known as Lanna has its roots right in this temple, and for the rest of the tour, you will see how deeply embedded this style is in the GOLDEN TRIANGLE region today.
Our hotel tonight has a swimming pool, offers excellent massage, and hosts a great restaurant. Like on every night on this tour, you will sleep soundly after such a full and enriching day on a motorcycle.
Length of ride: 295 kms. / 175 miles. Riding time: approximately 5 hours.
DAY #2 is the longest ride on this tour. Be prepared to spend seven hours in the saddle, all of it with a smile plastered wide across your face. Many of our past participant’s rate DAY #2 as the best day of riding they ever experienced on a bike in their lives!
The variety of today’s road can be broken up into five distinct segments as we progress throughout the day:
- Fantastic but on a badly broken up road surface (not a problem for our bikes, though).
- What many people consider to be the absolute best sport bike road in a country filled to overflowing with them.
- An unbelievably twisty and convoluted road with stunning views of course, that takes us to our night’s destination, way up high on the POO CHEE FAH ridgeline.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then high-definition video has to be worth a million. So please do not take our word about today’s riding and watch the videos above to understand the magnificence of today’s riding.
After arriving at our simple bungalow resort and after all the ‘wows’ have subsided, it is time to crack open a few bottles of ice‑cold beer and watch a spectacular sunset descend upon our world. Tonight we dine early because nature has a special treat in store for us in the early morning hours: our old friend the sun, arising again through a vast ocean of clouds.
What makes this scene so special is that we watch it unfold from the top of a 1,700 meter cliff (6,600′) with a straight drop into Laos far below us.
Length of ride: 350 kms. / 210 miles. Driving time: approximately 7 hours.
DAY #3 is fairly easy, except in the morning when we depart Poo Chee Fa on another spectacular road and then ride up one of the steepest roads in Thailand. If you do not hold onto your handlebars tightly, you will be in danger of sliding off the back end of your motorcycle.
By late morning we greet the Mekong River for the first time and roughly follow its course upstream. Along our route is a magnificent Wat carved from teak and gilded in gold, and presided over by a monk who is stationed there to answer all questions from foreigners about Buddhism. Monk Gaer is super friendly and looks forward to it when our bikes pull up in front of his temple—he was probably a biker in a previous incarnation.
We lunch in Chiang Saen, a nine-hundred year-old town considered to be the cradle of Thai civilization. During its heyday it was a fortified city surrounded by defensive walls and moats. Nowadays it is undergoing an extensive archeological restoration. We will circle the antiquities and visit some of the more substantial ruins.
For the next several hours our route takes us through bucolic Thai farmland paralleling the Mekong until it veers northwards. This point is the exact apex of the GOLDEN TRIANGLE, and here we stop for the obligatory group photo.
Our next sightseeing stop is another temple, but this one is home to a population of monkeys tame enough to eat peanuts right out of your hand. Who doesn’t enjoy watching the antics of monkeys?
We spend this evening in MAE SAI, the northernmost point in Thailand and dine on probably the best Chinese food you ever tasted.
Length of ride: 220 kms. / 130 miles. Driving time: approximately 4.5 hours.
If I am forced to choose my favorite riding day, this DAY #4 is it.
We start climbing up into a karst mountain range immediately upon leaving Mae Sai and ride in it for most of the day. Looking at this terrain, it is hard to believe that anyone could even think about building a road through it. But they did, thank you.
One morning stop is a mountaintop temple with another one of those ‘I can’t believe how steep this is’ roads. Wat Doi Tung has hundreds of bells, and it is said that if you ring them all it guarantees you a place in heaven. An offer like this doesn’t come along every day so you might as well take the effort and ring them all. You never know.
After the temple, we start driving through the back country on perhaps the most technical roads you will ever encounter, but ones that are also a hell of a lot of fun. These roads take us to our second stop: the abandoned headquarters of a former drug warlord. It is located in a remote corner of Thailand, and many participants rate this visit as one of the highlights of their tour.
We enter tea country in the afternoon and stop off at a tea plantation for a tea tasting. After that, we ride up to a mountain‑top shrine on another ridiculously steep road. The view from the top is breathtaking and this is the scene on many travel posters promoting Thailand. More great riding all the way down into the valley where we stay in an exquisite lodging on the banks of the THATON RIVER.
Length of ride: 160 kms. / 100 miles. Driving time: approximately 4 hours.
DAY #5 finds us still a distance away from CHIANG MAI, so there is still a lot of riding in store. We cut over a couple of substantial mountain passes, then ride through rural farming communities before meeting up with the main road leading back to Chiang Mai. We break for lunch at a charming, riverside restaurant that has a large collection of exotic birds in their garden.
Our only stop of note after lunch is at a hot spring and geyser. We tone down our riding a notch or two to make sure we make it back into town in the same condition we left in. We should be back by mid-afternoon for those participants who need to fly out that same evening.
Length of ride: 160 kms. / 100 miles. Driving time: approximately 4 hours.
Cumulative 5‑Day GT East Tour distance: 1,300 + kms. / nearly 800 miles.
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