Mekong River on Golden Triangle

Motorbiking to the Golden Triangle

The motorbiking tour of Northern Thailand continues with day 2 of 6 featuring the highlights of motorbiking to the Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai. You can catch up with day one; Motorbiking in Northern Thailand here or read about Day 2 below.

Day 2: Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park – Golden Triangle

Map of Day 2

After a somewhat uncomfortable first night we woke up at sunrise to shoot the sun rising but alas the fog was so thick we could barely see a few metres so we tried to get a bit more sleep. We were over 1000m high in the mountains so it was barely hovering above 10 degrees all morning and at this point I realized I hadn’t packed a long sleeve top – a good start! After a breakfast of 7-11 sausages and eggs we went for a quick venture up further up the mountain to see what was there only to find the road in the process of being paved and blocked by diggers. The road seems to be heading off in the direction of Myanmar so it could be an interesting drive when finished but it seemed a shame to be hacking such a large swathe of forest down to build in what is supposedly a National Park to build a new paved road.

Camping at Doi Pha Hom Pok

Anyway, once packed up we were ready to hit the road again, the plan was to head all the way to Nan province but with the Golden Triangle so close to our planned route we couldn’t resist stopping off to see this fabled part of Asia which is essentially a stretch of the Mekong river bordering Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. The first part of the journey was along quiet country roads over undulating hills, very scenic and fun to drive and other than the odd village dotted around the hillsides there was very little development. As we entered Chiang Rai province the landscape became flatter and more urbanized and for a while we followed which was essentially the highway running North to the border. We tried to avoid highways as much as possible and although I am sure it is possible, with the distances we had to cover we just opted to cover some ground that way.

The Golden Triangle was actually rather drab with huge tour busses full of Chinese day trippers from Chiang Mai town. There was not much in the way of attractions either, other than a marker indicating the 3 countries and a modest Buddha overlooking the Mekong there was not much to look at and by 6pm nearly all of the tourists were heading back to Chiang Rai town leaving the area quite desolate. There were plenty of restaurants though so we had a bite to eat and researched places to stay in the area. We had hoped to camp for the 5 nights but unfortunately couldn’t find any camp sites in the area so we drove along the river and found some modest accommodation overlooking the river and Laos beyond which was nice. I think we were quietly pleased to have some comfort for the night and give us a chance to charge up camera batteries and have a warm shower and get a good rest for the longest leg of the journey the next day.

Golden Triangle

Top Tip: There are very few places to get fuel between Doi Pha Hom Pok and Highway 1 in Chiang Mai so I recommend re-fueling in Mae Ai before setting off. You can probably bargain for a room at the Golden Triangle, there is plenty to choose from, most of which were very quiet in November.