I have completed four motorcycle tours to Thailand and whilst by no means an expert I have enjoyed riding many of the top rated motorcycle roads in the north of the country. I marked some of the better known good roads on a map for my own trip planning purposes, and will be adding more as I travel further there but in the meanwhile thought this might be something other riders thinking of going there could find helpful.
There is far more good riding roads than the ones I have chosen to mark, it is no exaggeration to say every 2nd road in the north could be considered a fun ride in any other country. However because there are some monumentally good riding roads the lesser ones get over shadowed and unless you are lucky enough to be an ex pat based there then you are unlikely to have the time to explore everything so I have focused on marking roads I found good and ones other people have told me were good. This is a work in progress which will be expanded as I ride Thailand further.
The southern roads marked out are as suggested to me by a chap when I was last riding over there. I shall try these in the future and perhaps the south is a place where you combine some riding and some beach/island hopping activity while the north is the pure road riders paradise. You can click to open the map into it’s own browser window to then access the map legend.
I have added some photos below of a few of the roads and you can read my ride reports there in 2017 – 2015 – 2014 – 2013 to see more about the terrific riding experience there. (click each year to read) As you might notice many of the good roads are in the north around Chiang Mai. This is conveniently also where many motorcycle rental shops are located. Of course it is not all about great roads (but this being a motorcycle blog I often focus on that). Thailand is famous for it’s food. The scenery is not the alps but everything is affordable. From food, beer and hotels to the often most expensive part the motorcycle rentals which are still reasonably priced. It’s a wonderful destination as demonstrated by the record numbers of tourists that it attracts each year (about 30 million and climbing) and the 50% return rate for tourists that. My previous rides there detail much more about fly/rent/ride experiences but I shall give a brief overview.
There are so many motorbikes for rent in Northern Thailand that you are spoilt for choice. The biggest shop is Pops or Pop Carrent which seem to have a fleet of 200 odd road bikes. Besides the main models listed on their web site they will always have a few of recent popular models so look on their facebook site to see what is new each month as the web site does not reflect the full range. I have used them twice and smooth transaction each time. After this there is Mr Mechanic (web site is dead) which I also have used. They offer limited insurance for a small fee and I think are only rental shop with this. The bikes my friend and I rented had couple of near bald tyres no name tyres and my bike was in poor condition. I used Tony’s big bikes first time I went there and the bike was ok but next time despite having a advance reservation I was told nothing available and since then have stuck to Pops however there are another couple of big shops, C & P Rental, Goodwill motorcycle hire and Mr Beer – the last two have appear to have ER6’s at same price as a CB500X from Pops if you prefer the Kawasaki. Having ridden both I now prefer the Honda but the Kawasaki has more power.
Just look on Facebook for these shops as they do not seem to maintain web pages. There are a few small places renting bikes in the tourist areas also that mainly have scooters but will also have at least one big bike, prices not as good but make an offer. All told there must be 2-300 motorcycles for rent in Chiang Mai, no exaggeration. But there are more shops in Chiang Rai should you wish to fly and start from there. I like Chiang Rai more so have been meaning to launch a ride from there. ST Motorcycle rentals are right next to the clock tower, cannot miss them and Chiang Rai big bike rentals are just around the corner but emailing them I get zero response which is not good customer service where as Pop’s have been very good.
If you like paper maps then there is a riders map produced by GT Rider forums which I have been meaning to pick up (edit had a look last ride and it did not have as much info as I expected). Fantastic looking forum of the same name which one could lose many hours reading, I shall take a good look one day when time permits. Plenty of affordable accommodation in either of those towns move away from the tourist areas and prices come down, similarly food and goods are marked up considerably in the tourist areas, away from those places it is very affordable. Here is a few photos – it is one of the worlds best destinations for riding!
The most famous 1148 The amazing 1081 north of Nan The incredible route 12 Autumn like colour leaves on 1168 High mountain pass 1256 The incredible 108 and the MHS loop Even non famous roads are curvy, the 118 The 120 The 1251 And so on it goes!