Great Road Trips of Thailand
As Thailand’s road network infrastructure improves every year the option of great Road Trips has been opened up. The motorways / highways have been greatly improved and are useful to take you part way, avoiding big cities and notorious traffic jam areas. From there take to the back roads and enjoy the scenery.
Pattaya is a great base for accessing Thailand’s road network because of its central location and Highway 7 will link you directly to it.
Agreed that sometimes Thai driving is to say the least erratic, if patience and care is taken then taking a drive in the Thai countryside can be a very pleasurable thing to do.
Obviously if you do not own a car then long term car rental is the most sensible option. Long Term Car Hire in Pattaya is one of the best options for renting a vehicle over a period of time and offer the best rates in town.
Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai on Highway 107
This remarkable drive through the mountains of northern Thailand is truly one of the best driving experiences in Thailand. It captures the imagination as around every bend a new vista comes into view and enthralls the traveller.
The journey is just short of 200km depending which route you choose but the two most advisable roads to take are Highways 107 or 118 to Highway 1 at Chom Mok Kaeo.
The trip we would recommend is taking Highway 107 from Chiang Mai to Thaton then cutting east to join Highway 1 and Chiang Rai. This is truly a stunning route, it will take a much longer time as there is so much to do and see.
The stunning drive north up Highway 107 from Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao is just the beginning of a sweep that allows enjoyable and relatively comfortable visits to all areas of the upper northern Thailand.
Chiang Dao is the famous site of the Hot Springs, Waterfalls, Caves and Elephant Camps that are so popular with tourists all year round. The Caves are of particular interest and are a major attraction as they date from prehistoric times, there are wall drawings and paintings to be seen by the early southeast Asian Cavemen.
The Hot Springs and many Waterfalls are simply mother nature at her most swaggeringly beautiful. Driving through this thrilling mountain landscape it would be a pity not to take in the Elephant Camp and see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
Back in the car and further along the magnificent Highway 107 the hills and terrain gradually start to rise, through plains of rice fields until you reach the town of Fang.
Fang is an old trading town that has grown and modernised due to the road opened for commercial transport south to Chiang Mai. Fang is a multicultural town and has Thai, Shan, Han and Haw Chinese residing alongside all of Thailand’s various hill tribes. The town continues to attract many ethnic groups as Fang is the major funnel from the northern edge.
A few miles further up from Fang the tranquil village of Mae Ai comes into view, a traditional northern Thai farming town. This part of northern Thailand the rural population tends to live in small landholdings adjacent to family rice and vegetable plots and descend daily to local villages like Mae Ai.
In recent times Mae Ai too has been growing, and what was before a separate and distinct village from Baan Thaton, which is the most northerly town in Chiang Mai Province, now has almost merged with Thaton on the road north.
Thaton is a delight on the eye and quite an idyllic spot that you may wish to break your journey and catch your breath or stay overnight. Thaton lies along both sides of the mighty Mae Kok River as it first enters Thailand from neighbouring Myanmar. The river has formed some of the most breathtaking and beautiful scenery as the mountains rise up on all sides, leaving the road in a protected valley.
Three gigantic Buddhist sculptures of Thaton gaze down on the traveller as he wends his way along the thin black highway, and in return the forests, mountains and river complete the most idyllic setting.
Thaton was once half in Myanmar, half in Thailand with the Mae Kok River forming the dividing line where the Burmese, Shan and Thai’s exchanged goods as payment for shipment down the river to Chiang Rai.
The boat service was originally started for commerce but with time has adapted and now serves a broader tourist purpose by ferrying people down the Mae Kok River to various destinations along the jungle-clad river and ultimately to Chiang Rai itself.
Taking Highway 107 as far up north as Thaton essentially means you have overshot Chiang Rai, however the road and the surrounding vistas are too good to turn off this amazing detour. To rectify this selfish digression for pleasure, simply drive along Highway 1089 to Mae Chan then you can take Highway 1 south to your final destination of Chiang Rai.
The Highway 107 road trip is simply magnificent and worth spending a few days to undertake the journey. This northern part of Thailand is exquisite and the scenery nothing short of breathtaking. Mountains, caves, mighty rivers, lush fertile valleys, jungle, hot springs and most of all, friendly hospitable people are all waiting to be discovered.
If you have flown to Thailand specifically to undertake this amazing drive and are returning back to London, then it might be advisable to arrange a private hire taxi to take you to your end destination. If this is the case, then look no further than Elite Car Service who offer a professional airport pickup service from all London’s major airports.