Thailand Road Trip to Chiang Mai, Mae Sarieng, Mae Hong Son

Our road trip to Thailand's North.
Our road trip to Thailand’s North.

Some people thought we had gone nuts when we said we were hitting north in the summer. And they had all the decent rights to say so. Usually, Chiang Mai and all other places up north of Thailand are good for cooler months from the end till early of each year. But since our work schedules sometimes didn’t accommodate peak-season traveling, we had to adapt as we go. This time, March allowed us to make some road trips, and the north, we just decided, was to be on our driving maps.

Needless to say, it was, of course, scorching. But then again, we had all the places to ourselves. The hotels were cheaper, the roads almost empty (even ones towards the most popular destinations like Pang Oui in Mae Hong Son), and the popular restaurants in each destination didn’t have even one queue! It was a fantastic trip. If you like it nice and quiet, that’s is. 😀

First option: direct, 674-km, route on AH1 via Trat that would roughly take 8 hours.
First option: direct, 674-km, route on AH1 via Tak that would roughly take 10 hours.

Bangkok – Chiang Mai.
Route Planning.

First things first. IMHO, Road trip will be better with some advance planning. Some people will do a rough planning and wing it as the night falls: no bookings of hotels ahead, just go where the roads lead you and choose a place to stay as you wish. As much was we wanted to be such fun and spontaneous, we decided to make some planning, but not down to each meal. We studied the highways, made some options, jotted down places we wished to see, things we wished to eat and then hit the road with it.

Second option: on two-way highway 11 via Pitsanulok that the map thought would take only half an hour longer. (but ended up more than 2 hours longer due to driving circumstances).
Second option: on two-way highway 11 via Pitsanulok that the map thought would take pretty much the same amount of time.

We also relied heavily on the Google map. Since our first destination was the Anantara Chiang Mai Resort, we plotted our driving routes accordingly. The map displayed two alternate highways: first direct route through Tak was displayed with a series of constructions emblems, the other meandering yet clear two-lane highways (and up some hills) through Pitsanulok.

Driving map to the Anantara Chiang Mai which is just right in the city center.
Driving map to the Anantara Chiang Mai which is just right in the city center.

We chose the meandering route on our way up, just for fun. It kind of took us forever, really, because two-way highways meant we needed to slow down at the mercy of the truck’s speeds. We also witnessed the drought up-close. Once the vista of green rice fields were now dry sad patches. We stopped for a nice lunch in Pitsanulok. Here’s the noodles at Guay Tiew Sukhothai Kanok Phan on Eka Totsaros Road. (click for map). Opposite this place were a couple of restaurants selling similar noodles, dim sum and coffees. Also, one quick attraction in this town could be the Buddha Chinnaraj temple which is the town’s most revered temple of all times.

Noodles at Kanokphan Restaurant in Pitsanulok.
Noodles at Kanokphan Restaurant in Pitsanulok.

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Chiang Mai's resort sanctuary with a meticulous design to match.
Chiang Mai’s resort sanctuary with a meticulous design to match.
The Service 1921 Restaurant and Bar at the Anantara Chiang Mai is a splendid place to wine and dine and have a great time. Especially if you love good food and something of the pasts.
The Service 1921 Restaurant and Bar at the Anantara Chiang Mai is a splendid place to wine and dine and have a great time. Especially if you love good food and something of the pasts.

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