Go Back   Team-BHP > Buckle Up > Travelogues


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 12th January 2015, 16:00   #1
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 229
Thanked: 48 Times
Default The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand

Greetings!


Its been quite a long time since I posted here, but better late than never. For some of the few who know/remember me from some of the meets in Bangalore, I’ve now moved out of India with my family (wife and daughter) and living in Bangkok.


Anyway, December is that time of the year which everyone loves and after almost 6 months of hectic work, I managed to take a few days off towards mid-/end Dec. Back in India, Dec used to be the time for doing the annual long drive/trip. And glad that it continues here as well (at least for the first year!)


The planning for the trip started in early Nov and the location was finalized without much ado. We decided to head up North of Thailand and experience the, well, “winter”. Among other things, we had to keep in mind the presence of our 2.3 year old daughter in terms of weather, food, stay etc. So, with a little help from the local folks we know, drew up a rough plan and worked on the hotel bookings as also the car rental.


Plan looked something like this –
Dec 16 – start early morning from Bangkok and drive to Chiang Mai (~700 kms)
Dec 17 – take it easy and drive to Doi Suthep, which is about an hour’s drive away from Chiang Mai with a nice temple on top along with panoramic views of the city
Dec 18 – drive to Doi Inthanon, little over a 100kms away and which is the highest mountain in Thailand.
Dec 19 – local sight-seeing (well, we ended up going to the zoo for the kiddo’s sake!)
Dec 20 – drive to Chiang Rai, about 200kms away
Dec 21 – local sight-seeing + Doi Tung another mountain bordering Thailand and Myanmar (ended up doing much more, thanks to some last minute changes!)
Dec 22 – drive back to Bangkok


Next challenge was booking the hotels and car. We looked up various options and with reviews from Tripadvisor/Agoda etc managed to get the hotel booked. With the holiday season not yet started, I got a good promotional deal on a Corolla Altis 1.6l model, which was hard to imagine!


Thereafter, the waiting for the vacations started with fingers crossed, hoping for nothing to come in the way of the planned trip!


Some notes before proceeding further – this was not my first road trip here. I had done a couple of short weekend trips prior to this long one and was fairly confident of driving around in Bangkok and in the countryside in Thailand. The big difference I see from driving in India is that the road infrastructure is far, far superior with good well lit and marked roads and with majority decent drivers. But, there are plenty of maniacs on the road here as well and it’s the same level of caution to be taken here, as in India! There is a summary a bit later on the overall experience, but lets get started with the arrival of the vacation day.


As it happens at the beginning of any road trip, the excitement levels were quite high on the 15th – and I was greeted with the first surprise and a pleasant one at that – but, not without some drama. The car rental company first apologized that the car I requested for was not available, SO, they UPGRADED me from a 1.6l model to a 1.8l model – and all this was conveyed to me in one breath, so the element of surprise and then the glee was all but cut out! With language still being a blocker in most of my communication here, I tried to crack the moment up a bit, which was met with a blank expressionless face from the rental guys. Anyway, with a pleasant outcome, I drove the car home for a good night’s sleep.

Before hitting the sack, had a good look at the map to find my way out of Bangkok and the highway I was supposed to take.

Here is the complete route map of the entire trip:

Name:  Route.JPG
Views: 8052
Size:  103.3 KB

Day 1:
With a target to start at 5.30am, I must've woken up a few times to check the time! But, after what seemed like a long endless night, we woke up on time, made a few last minute packing got the kiddo up, who was also raring to go - realized that it definitely helps to build up a moment with the kids, in this case the road trip.

One of the tricky things is finding the way out of Bangkok (and also getting back in!). Though I had Google maps with me, I still missed the turn into the expressway and had to take a bit of a detour to get back. This was the first goof-up (at least for the next few days ~grin~) all the way till we reached the hotel, cos, once on the expressway, it was smooth sailing.

Those having experienced the Bangkok traffic will realize how painful it is to get out - thankfully, we got held up only at a couple of places prior to exiting into the main highway. Thereafter, the going is quite smooth and really fast! I was averaging upwards of about 90-100 kms every hour and decided to take the first break for a quick coffee and breakfast.

Without any deviations to worry about for hundreds of kms, the going was uneventful with sparse traffic and by around 1’ish we reached the junction where the deviation to Chiang Mai was, place called Lampang. Here we head west to climb up to Chiang Mai, which was about ~100 kms. Lampang is 600 kms from Bangkok, which was covered in ~6.5 hours with 2-3 short breaks. The climb into Chiang Mai was equally uneventful, though progress was a bit slow – I was missing the manual transmission now, but considering the climb was not too steep, I let the auto gearbox handle the climb.


By around 3pm we entered Chiang Mai and took another half hour to get to the hotel, ably guided by Google maps all the way. The weather was pleasant compared to the hot and sultry Bangkok!

After relaxing till early evening, we headed to the local market for a look around and also dinner. Considering parking issues in the market area, we took the local Songthiew, which one should experience when in Thailand. We wrapped up early to get rest and prepare for the next day.

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0037.jpg

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0038.jpg

The roads dont look very different from what you get in India!

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0034modified.jpg
In one of those fast stretches

================================================== ====================================

DAY 2:
A good night’s sleep does wonders in the morning and sure enough, all of us were as fresh as the brewed coffee in the lovely quaint setting of the hotel. After a relaxing breakfast, we checked with the extremely helpful front desk guys about our proposed plan to head into the old city in the morning and then to Doi Suthep. We figured its better to reverse the plan and headed to Doi Suthep first, as the road closes by early afternoon due to fog, yes, surprise.. surprise, fog!

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0040res.jpg
The hotel

One thing about the really helpful Thais is, overreaction – the moment they learnt that I would drive myself to Doi Suthep, the reaction was all but encouraging. They tried to explain (struggling with their English) how steep it is and how better off we were to either rent a car or hire a driver. I had to shrug it off saying that we will try and if not possible to drive, we'll turn back and that they needn’t worry!


So off we were to Doi Suthep, which was about an hour’s drive away. Doi in Thai means mountain – so, we had to drive up to the top, not very steep. We stopped along the way in a couple of places to soak in the views of Chiang Mai –

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050221res.jpg

The airport visible from atop
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050309res.jpg

I also engaged the manual mode here to check its effectiveness, but the auto mode was good enough for the climb. Here are some pictures from atop, where the temple, Wat Phra Suthep is – fairly old temple, beautiful with lovely surroundings. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Phra_That_Doi_Suthep>
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050237res.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050253res.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050272res.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050287res.jpg

Graceful and elegant!
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050290res.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050296res.jpg

Happy kiddo!
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050301res.jpg

Common sight across most of Thailand
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050305res.jpg

Stunning in emerald color!
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0049_cr.jpg

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050336res.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050332res.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050318res.jpg

Spent time till early afternoon and headed back to the hotel. Did a quick lunch on the way back and relaxed the afternoon. The evening we went to the main temples of Chiang Mai – the Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang. But, we cut it short with the weather getting chilly, - more so for the kiddo, than us. So, we decided to have an early dinner with plenty of options near our hotel. Dinner done, it was time for another relaxing sleep, in what was turning out to be a really nice and relaxing trip so far!


DAY 3
This day was planned for Doi Inthanon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doi_Inthanon), the highest mountain in Thailand. We were ready earlier than the previous day, but today was also the first mistake to occur. The route on Google map seemed straight forward and I didn’t bother to ask the locals at the front desk. We were doing fine, following the map and the direction marked as well, but at some point I lost the GPS signal and the directions on the road also were missing! As a result I missed a turn and went on driving for about 8-10kms, where at a junction there was no sign for Doi Inthanon, nor any signs or directions of the couple of villages enroute that I had noted. The phone was still struggling to latch on to the GPS and I was forced to stop and check at a small garage using broken English and sign language, I figured there was a turn to be taken which I had overshot.



Anyway, we quickly traversed back, found the turn and to be doubly sure, stopped at a gas station and checked with a few biker folks, who confirmed the direction – phew! All this cost about an hour and we were now back on track. Progress was slow on the single lane road with lots of villages – reminded me of the drive across Kerala! After some 30kms of patiently traversing through such roads, we were finally greeted with open 4-lane highway, where I let loose the horses under the hood, covering the next 30kms in a jiffy! We finally found the turn to Doi Inthanon which was about 40 kms away largely a gentle climb across lush greenery. The foreigner entry was 10 times the locals! We made it to the top by noon.

Some pics -
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0076.jpg
En-route

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050377res.jpg
We made it!

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050384res.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050394res.jpg
The temples at the top

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050395res.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050416res.jpg
Clouds!

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050424res.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050425res.jpg
The lovely garden!

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050440res.jpg
The picture says it all! Not adventurously high enough!

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050447res.jpg
For good luck, the coin needs to be placed vertically.

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050454res.jpg
I even had time to click a busy sunbird!

Last edited by royalcruiser : 1st February 2015 at 14:26.
royalcruiser is offline   (3) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 1st February 2015, 15:57   #2
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 229
Thanked: 48 Times
Default re: The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand

We spent a good 2 hours at the top and were hungry as hell. At about the same time, we came across a small tapri-kinda place, where they agreed to cook us some veg curry and som tam (spicy salad). Having food here reminded us of the steaming hot Maggie in some places back in India, like Sikkim and Ladakh


Some more pics

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0096.jpg
View of both peaks!

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0094res.jpg
Us at the lovely little bridge!

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0102res.jpg
Pleased kiddo!

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0103.jpg
Quite a sight - clouds rising above

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0110res.jpg
At the tapri!

With the kiddo getting cranky (read sleepy), it was time to drive back. And what a drive it was – all through dense clouds!

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0113.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0119.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0121.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0131.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0134.jpg

With a fairly long day spent, we decided to on a quiet evening at a nice Indian restaurant serving some lovely red wine!

DAY 4:
After having done nearly 300kms since arrival, we took it a bit easy and in headed in the morning to the zoo. We had the option of going to the Chiang Mai night safari, but considering the chilly evenings, gave it a miss this time – we sure are gonna visit this place again anyway, once the kid is a bit older.

Some pics from the zoo – with the happy girl! Good place for kids in general and for those who would want to see pandas, penguins and koala. The good thing about zoos and farms here is that one can feed the animals – so that is a major attraction for kids of all ages!

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050487res.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050502res.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-capture.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050490_cr.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050593res.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050680res.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050600res.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050658res.jpg
That's how you photo-bomb! Perfect!

We were done by late afternoon with the zoo and got stuck in a massive jam before reaching the hotel. With both mommy and kid sleepy, I dropped them off to the hotel and headed to the pending local temples. This way I also got some time for myself to explore my interest in these temples and Buddhism.

First stop - Wat Phra Singh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Phra_Singh)
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050692res.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050702.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050695.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050361.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050359.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050703.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050360.jpg

Next one - Wat Chedi Luang (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Chedi_Luang).
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050714.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050716.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050723.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050725.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050726.jpg


There are dozens of other temples in the vicinity of these temples, but both these temples are highly recommended and a must see when in Chiang Mai. The evening was again a nice relaxing one with dinner at a place close to the hotel. This was our last day here and spent an extended time during dinner. Next day was the drive to Chiang Rai about 200 kms away.

Last edited by royalcruiser : 1st February 2015 at 15:59.
royalcruiser is offline   (3) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 1st February 2015, 21:44   #3
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 229
Thanked: 48 Times
Default Day 5

DAY 5

One thing about the entire trip was the relaxed pace, which continued even today as we started only by around 10am. The drive was about 3 hours and what a beautiful drive it was for the first 80-100 kms. Flanked by mountains on both sides, single lane and plenty of curves. This was the stretch where I longed for a European car! Plenty of places to stop on the way, especially the beautifully set cafe overlooking the mountains either side!

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050783.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050785.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0211.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0213.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0216.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0232.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0233.jpg

The drive was so wonderful, we never realzed that we had almost reached the outskirts of Chiang Rai! Google maps guided us to the hotel, which was some distance away from the city. We didn’t have much of a choice as the hotel was already paid for! The good thing about the hotel was that it was an easy getaway for our planned Doi Tung and the bonus places we got to know from them about Mae Sai and the Golden Triangle.


Upon inquiry with the front desk guys, we also got to know that one of the attractions, the white temple (Wat Rong Khun) was almost 30 kms away and that we had passed by it on our way to the hotel! Awww, the thought of driving 60 kms more today was not appealing, but with a local weekend market as another attraction we decided to go anyway, after a short rest.
We reached the white temple around 5 pm and what a sight it is to behold!
More on the templte - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Rong_Khun

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050791.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050797.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050799.jpg
Modern art, supposedly

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050803.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050806.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050822.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050846.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050849.jpg
Predator??!!

This is not an old temple and supposedly one of the recent “modern” temples, which is quite intriguing when compared with the simplistic nature of the older temples. In fact, I found it a wee bit gothic styled and maybe even overdone in parts

We waited for a while thinking the temple would get lit up by evening, but that was not to happen. So we headed back to find our way to the weekend market, which was quite painful!


Anyway, there was nothing great about the market and we ended up searching for a place to eat, which was thankfully not so difficult! After an enjoyable dinner at a bar who served us rotis and an Indian curry, yes Indian curry, we headed back to the hotel in preparation for a long day out the next day. This was also the first visit for the really, really underage kiddo to a bar!
royalcruiser is offline   (3) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 1st February 2015, 22:16   #4
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 229
Thanked: 48 Times
Default Day 6

DAY 6

With at least 3 places planned to visit, we were up and ready a bit early. This time we made sure to get the directions before heading out and it was while getting directions this morning, a bright realization dawned – highway numbers! Yes, the guy at the front desk guided very well, asking us to note the highway numbers and with communication being quite a hindrance here, is a simpler way to find your own way than relying entirely on the phone GPS and struggling to ask for directions!

So, off we were on the last day of the vacation with Doi Tung being the first stop. Once we were off the main highway, we started climbing a reasonably steep mountain. We stopped enroute for a few pics –

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0282.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050895.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050888.jpg

Most of the climb was done in manual, as I was not very happy with the response from the auto box. The road does get quite narrow, when nearing the peak, but nothing much of a worry if one has done the 36 hairpin Ooty climb There seemed to be a cycling event and we did run into many of enthusiastic cyclists!

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-dsc_0287.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050902.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050914.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050917.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050923.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050918.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050932.jpg

By late morning we were done with the peak, which honestly was, hmm, not as spectacular as I expected going by what I was told!

We ended up spending a while here due to a small incident of the kiddo falling at one of the steps and hurting herself. After what seemed like endless crying, it was at the sight of a bunch of small shops selling hand-made dolls and other girly stuff, she finally calmed down! Women, you see!

So we bought some local stuff here and with a new found doll in tow, we headed back – next destination Mae Sai, which is the last town in north Thailand bordering Myanmar.



The drive to Mae Sai was extremely beautiful, as can be seen from the below pics:

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050962.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050963.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050964.jpg

We looked around for something to eat in Mae Sai, but decided to skip as the kiddo was fast asleep. So, all we could do was drive on the main road till the border and turn back to look for the highway to the Golden Triangle. With well marked highways, we had no trouble finding the route to our final destination of the day and the trip!
The drive to Golden triangle presented some eye-catching vistas with nearly empty roads and a lovely highway to drive on!

The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050967.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050968.jpg

We covered the next hour or so at an easy pace and got to the Golden Triangle by 2pm. With the kiddo still asleep, I took a quick walk around the place. The Golden Triangle, is a junction where 3 countries meet – Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. There were touts who approached me to take me across the river to Laos at a small price. With a good trip so far, I was not keen to get into any trouble (none of us were carrying passports!) – so, instead spent the time around the golden triangle park.



The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050971.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050973.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050975.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050979.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050981.jpg
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050985.jpg


With the kiddo up we did another quick walk across to take a look along with the customary pics, after which it was time to look for a place to lunch. Getting food anywhere in Thailand is never a problem and we found an Italian place, did lunch at a relaxed pace and then set off to Chiang Rai


Again, finding the route was simplified by following the highway numbers and after an uneventful drive we reached the hotel by early evening.


This marked the end of the perfectly planned and executed trip! We ended up covering all the places we thought of and some more too – with this being the topic of discussion and how pleased we were of ourselves, we had a good dinner at the hotel restaurant. We hit the sack early as the next day was the long 900 km drive back to Bangkok.

DAY 7:
Hard to believe that the trip was almost over and that we were heading back! Yes, a good week long road tip coming to an end makes you wonder if this could go on for longer. And somehow, with this though the first 200 kms were covered at a snail’s pace – we took nearly 4 hours for this stretch, with multiple stops!


Lampang was where we stopped for lunch, which is exactly 600kms from Bangkok. We started by 1.30 pm and realizing that we could end up driving in the night, if I drove like I did in the first half, I had to let loose the horses under the Altis hood! And boy, what progress – I was averaging upwards of 100 kms every hour!


We didn’t stop much, except for the needed bio breaks and coffee and managed to reach the outskirts of Bangkok (Rangsit) by 8pm. With a bit of a struggle to get on to the right expressway to reach home, we managed to reach home by 9pm – and that’s when realization also dawns that there’s no place like home once you get there.


With the luggage off loaded, I had to head out again to tank up and return the car.


Before I close, some points for anyone wanting to drive here:
  • The road infrastructure is definitely miles ahead of what you get in India
  • The highways are well marked with both English and Thai – except in some really remote places
  • I didn’t pay a single penny for using the highway! Yes, not a single penny. Only exception is the use of the expressway in Bangkok, apart from that no tolls on any of the major highways!
  • Take the time to “know your route” before starting. This helps in many ways and especially make a note of the highway numbers
  • The previous point is especially relevant when getting in and out of Bangkok!
  • Car rentals are quite cheap here and one can get even a good deal with some bargaining with local dealers. I normally stick to the known ones with standard prices and insurance included
  • A phone with data connection and GPS is good enough to get you to most of the places around in Thailand
  • Take care with the mini-trucks in the country side. There can be crazy drivers behind them
  • Not once did I honk
  • Stick to RON 91 if you are climbing up the mountains and E20 for the flatter highways
  • Plenty of fuel stations along the highway with a café, ATM and mostly clean toilets
  • Make sure you carry good glares, especially during the summer months – this with the aircon and autobox combination keeps driving stress levels fairly low
  • In case of veg food preference, make sure you carry a translator app/screen shots of what you want and don’t want to be included in your food! Communicating is a bit of a challenge in this part of the world.
  • Need more, get in touch with me!
Attached Thumbnails
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-p1050966.jpg  


Last edited by royalcruiser : 3rd August 2016 at 21:03.
royalcruiser is offline   (12) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 4th August 2016, 09:34   #5
Team-BHP Support
 
Eddy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Delhi
Posts: 7,268
Thanked: 4,423 Times
Default

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing.

Last edited by GTO : 4th August 2016 at 09:35. Reason: Bump
Eddy is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 4th August 2016, 12:03   #6
Newbie
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Mombasa, Kenya
Posts: 12
Thanked: 34 Times
Default Re: The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand

Great post Royalcruiser!!! Brings back memories. I did this route in 2014 on a bike with a tour guide staying in small villages all over the Lao Thai border. Besides the scenery and the lovely roads (some of the bends being the steepest I have ever come across), I found the people lovely and the food just out of the world!!
Happy drivings!
Kamran Mohsin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th August 2016, 13:04   #7
Senior - BHPian
 
govigov's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Cochin!!!!!
Posts: 1,271
Thanked: 382 Times
Default Re: The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand

Thank you for a very lovely and well put out travelogue with ample pics. I was not aware of these mountains in northern Thailand.

The tips for highway driving to lookout for highway numbers is useful.

Did you need an IDP or a standard Indian Driving License written in english?

Rated 5* for this thread.
govigov is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th August 2016, 20:55   #8
BHPian
 
Captdey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Kolkata
Posts: 160
Thanked: 15 Times
Default Re: The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand

Wonderful ! Could you please share the car rental company you used
during this trip.
Captdey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 5th August 2016, 11:00   #9
BHPian
 
katchkamalesh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Chennai
Posts: 134
Thanked: 108 Times
Default Re: The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand

Quote:
Originally Posted by govigov View Post
Did you need an IDP or a standard Indian Driving License written in english?

Rated 5* for this thread.
I am not sure if IDP is mandatory for driving in Thailand.

In Feb 2016, I was able to hire and drive a self-drive car (corolla Altis) in Phuket without an IDP. In order to obtain an IDP you need to furnish a valid visa to the RTO. Since Thailand offers Visa on Arrival for Indians and I was running short of time I was not able to procure an IDP.

At one instance I was stopped by the cops but I was not asked for any documents. They just had a look inside the vehicle and let me go.
During that time there was a crackdown on two wheelers. Most of the two wheelers were stopped by the cops. Foreigners were not spared either.

Rental car companies are a plenty and I recommend people to book with reputed players in advance. I was told that renting a car in Phuket is easy but unfortunately it was not the case for me.

I did not book the car in advance and when I reached Phuket, I found that all cars from reputed rental companies were booked. Hence I had to settle for an unknown company referred by an employee of an international rental company.

I paid 1,000 baht per day for Corolla Altis and they did not accept card payment. I had to pay 6,000 baht in cash up front. I was not given any receipt for the cash that I paid.

I was supposed to return the car at 11 AM as per the terms that we agreed upon and I was running late by 2-3 hours. The moment I arrived at the airport I called the lady in-charge and she came running to collect the car. She was also kind enough to waive charges for additional 2-3 hours. Even though the initial experience was not that great, it turned out to be a pleasant experience.

Last edited by katchkamalesh : 5th August 2016 at 11:05.
katchkamalesh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 5th August 2016, 14:54   #10
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 229
Thanked: 48 Times
Default Re: The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamran Mohsin View Post
Great post Royalcruiser!!! Brings back memories. I did this route in 2014 on a bike with a tour guide staying in small villages all over the Lao Thai border. Besides the scenery and the lovely roads (some of the bends being the steepest I have ever come across), I found the people lovely and the food just out of the world!!
Happy drivings!
Thanks! Yep, fantastic country to drive around! I've done several more trips and the best ones are those when you get away from the main highway into the smaller village roads!

Quote:
Originally Posted by govigov View Post
Thank you for a very lovely and well put out travelogue with ample pics. I was not aware of these mountains in northern Thailand.

The tips for highway driving to lookout for highway numbers is useful.

Did you need an IDP or a standard Indian Driving License written in english?

Rated 5* for this thread.
Thanks! IDP will work and so does Indian license for renting a car. To be on the safer side, considering incidents or police checks, it is better to have IDP

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captdey View Post
Wonderful ! Could you please share the car rental company you used
during this trip.
I normally stick to Sixt rental or at times Avis. There are plenty of local companies also that provide rentals (like Highway Car Rental is a famous one), but considering rates and services offered, I prefer Sixt or any other known ones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by katchkamalesh View Post
I am not sure if IDP is mandatory for driving in Thailand.

In Feb 2016, I was able to hire and drive a self-drive car (corolla Altis) in Phuket without an IDP. In order to obtain an IDP you need to furnish a valid visa to the RTO. Since Thailand offers Visa on Arrival for Indians and I was running short of time I was not able to procure an IDP.

At one instance I was stopped by the cops but I was not asked for any documents. They just had a look inside the vehicle and let me go.
During that time there was a crackdown on two wheelers. Most of the two wheelers were stopped by the cops. Foreigners were not spared either.

Rental car companies are a plenty and I recommend people to book with reputed players in advance. I was told that renting a car in Phuket is easy but unfortunately it was not the case for me.

I did not book the car in advance and when I reached Phuket, I found that all cars from reputed rental companies were booked. Hence I had to settle for an unknown company referred by an employee of an international rental company.

I paid 1,000 baht per day for Corolla Altis and they did not accept card payment. I had to pay 6,000 baht in cash up front. I was not given any receipt for the cash that I paid.

I was supposed to return the car at 11 AM as per the terms that we agreed upon and I was running late by 2-3 hours. The moment I arrived at the airport I called the lady in-charge and she came running to collect the car. She was also kind enough to waive charges for additional 2-3 hours. Even though the initial experience was not that great, it turned out to be a pleasant experience.
For renting a car IDP is not really mandatory - most companies rent out based on Indian licenses provided they are the smart card ones (the old hand written booklet licenses are not accepted). Most rental companies have an outlet in the airport and one can pre-book cars - typically 2 days in advance for most of the reputed companies.
I usually stick to Sixt or Avis as their rates are mostly lower than the local companies and importantly, speak English!
royalcruiser is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 5th August 2016, 19:40   #11
BHPian
 
AJ-got-BHP's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Calcutta
Posts: 560
Thanked: 1,944 Times
Default Re: The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand

Amazing Travelogue royalcruiser Cherished every bit of it and the pictures did justice to the crisp write up in your travelogue. Thailand is really beautiful all over !! I always wanted to explore the northern part of Thailand which I could never do whenever I have visited Thailand. Though visiting the northern part of Thailand through your Travelogue was a treat to the eyes. Thanks for sharing !!

Driving in Thailand is not pleasurable in all the parts as mentioned by you in your travelogue also. But, some stretches are pretty brilliant.

I would like to share a few pictures here of the little driving that I know and did in Thailand - In and around Phuket !! Here are some pictures :

The Jeep that I wanted to drive and which I hired :
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-pic_0194.jpg

A side shot at the Hotel :
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-pic_0195.jpg

Posing in a small village away from Phuket :
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-pic_0160.jpg

View from the Phuket View Point :
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-pic_0169.jpg

A random shot while driving :
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-pic_0168.jpg

Managed to drive on that terrain too :
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-pic_0165.jpg

All said and done, it was not as fast as the Toyota you drove, rather it was as slow as this :
The Thailand Chronicles: 7 day road-trip to North Thailand-pic_0220.jpg

However, during the later part of the day after the Sunset we managed to remove the soft top of the Jeep and it was brilliant to drive around on the Hills of Phuket !! Something which I cherish till date and reliving the moment as I share these pictures !!

By the way all said and done w.r.t. driving in Thailand, my past experience was pretty simple. Got this Jeep from the Hotel Travel Desk. Submitted a photocopy of my Passport and Indian Driving Licence and got the Jeep for 1000 Baht at that time. In fact the hotel desk introduced me to the owner of the Jeep when he came to drop the car off. He even mentioned - "My Jeep is Insured ... so no worries and in case of any issue, please feel free to call me" and shared his personal mobile number with me. A very nice gesture indeed !! He must be happier when I returned the Jeep back to him in 1 Piece

Rating a Well Deserved 5*
AJ-got-BHP is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Chronicles of the Forts & Beaches Trip sharekhan4 Travelogues 9 28th February 2013 18:22
The Safari chronicles by !xobile. Make your own road. sidindica The Indian Car Scene 77 30th May 2012 17:02
Seedha, ondhe roadu! - Road Trip to North West Karnataka ShivaCity2K6 Travelogues 19 15th February 2012 13:02
1 day trip to North Gujarat Sandy28 Travelogues 3 15th June 2011 07:18


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 14:19.

Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks