Self-driving in Thailand 10 – Chiang Rai and the long way to Chiang Saen

Another long day driving to the northernmost point of Thailand.
Tonight we will stay in Chian Saen.

From Phayao we drove our way to Chiang Rai, where we stopped briefly to visit the center and specially Wat Phra Kaew.

We also made a short stop to have a look at the modern White Temple – Wat Rong Kuhn (1997), that could have been the perfect scenario for the wedding of Disney’s princess Li Shang from Mulan.

After Chiang Rai, we decided to take the long road to Chiang Saen along the Laotian border to the north, taking a combination of the roads 1020, 1055 and 1093 (a suggestion from Lonely Planet Thailand travel guide – check “The long road to Phayao”, we followed it northbound from Chiang Rai.

It was a unique experience indeed but we wouldn’t do it again.
At least not in one day and certainly not in the rainy season though it has nothing to do with the rain.

I will explain myself.
The trip is long and tiring and stressful. Mountain roads with great views and dramatic scenery. Some parts in very good condition, some parts not. You can find big holes, and sections where one lane or part of one lane has been affected by the rains and collapsed. Google maps also took us through smart shortcuts that were small abandoned roads downhill or uphill. That was the most stressful part.

We also found out that some of the most recommended viewpoints were not reachable or that once there climbing up to the viewpoint and back would taken too long. And we definitely didn’t want to drive those roads at dark.

Therefore, we both agreed that it would be ok to do it in two days and during the dry season when the roads are repaired.

  • Travel guides suggestions are not always the best thing
  • Do not trust completely in Google Maps or similar
  • We are very brave drivers


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