Two Wheeled Fun in Thailand: The Best Chiang Mai Road Trips
Exploring Chiang Mai itself is a wonderful experience, but the countryside around it is even better. The best way to explore it? Jumping on a two-wheeled machine and taking to the road. Chiang Mai road trips are no joke!
The freedom of riding a scooter or motorbike around Thailand is second to none. The countryside of northern Thailand is the perfect place to rent a scooter and get off the beaten track. There are hundreds of amazing roads to ride, trails to explore and sights to see.
There are, of course, some dangers associated with hiring a bike and venturing independently. But if you take care and allow yourself plenty of time you’ll have an amazing journey. Some of these trips are doable in a day, others will need you to stay overnight if you want to enjoy the sights as well as ride the bikes. Read on, jump on and hit the road.
The closest road trip to Chiang Mai is riding up Chiang Mai’s very own mountain, Doi Suthep. It’s a straightforward ride and one suitable for relatively new riders thanks to the light (ish!) traffic and single road the whole way. Start at the bottom of the hill near Chiang Mai Zoo and then just head up and up as far as you want to go. It’s a winding road with stunning views over Chiang Mai.
There are plenty of viewpoints on the road but the main places to visit are;
- Doi Suthep Temple itself, with its stunning golden pagodas and stupas.
- Bhuping Palace – The royal winter residence.
- Pui Mong Hmong Village – a traditional Thai village with plenty of souvenir shops, incredibly different to the city below.
- Camping – heading up as high as possible allows you to venture to a campsite if you’d prefer to overnight on the mountain itself.
Wat Phra That Doi Kham
A great little day ride out of town along the 121 Highway. This temple is barely visited by tourists thanks to its slightly more remote location. There are plenty of picturesque pagodas to see, a fully working temple full of devout locals and a 17m huge buddha statue too.
Nearby, if you want to extend your daytrip, is the popular botanical gardens. They are pricey to enter but are stunning if visited in the right season.
Venturing further afield for an overnight trip, Chiang Dao National Park is northern Thailand at its best. Huge, towering limestone mountains, endless jungle and a winding road with amazing views. As you make your way out of Chiang Mai you’ll ride along the 107 Highway until you begin to see the mountains jutting out of the ground. Explore the park, stop and admire the view and soak up the atmosphere.
For an overnight stop, there are plenty of hostels and hotels just off Highway 107 on the 3024. If you’re after a true national park experience then ride further into the park until you reach a small village called Ban Rabiang Dao. This village offers all-inclusive camping experiences. For around B200 per person you’ll be provided with a tent, mattress, pillows and blankets all with a view of the mountain peaks straight out the door. You’ll also receive dinner on your platform as well as breakfast in the morning. There’s even a small outdoor bar and a few stalls serving that precious Leo beer.
This is the biggest trip on our list. It’s only really suitable for experienced riders due to the distance. On Google Maps it might say that the distance can be covered in 2.5-3 hours but on a little 110cc scooter you can expect it to be around 4.5-5 hours. You can expect to be a little saddle sore by the end of the day!
It’s worth the trip as the famous White Temple is amazing to behold. Plus, you can match it with a trip to the golden triangle and the Black House art museum if you take a couple of nights rather than just the one.
Chiang Mai Road Trips Inside Knowledge
Don’t underestimate the Thai roads. They aren’t for novice riders, no matter how easy it might be to rent a scooter. Even if you’re an experienced rider make sure you take your time, allow for plenty of coffee/M150 breaks and don’t rush along the beautiful roads!