North Central Thailand

Bangkok to Chai Nat

Before driving to Bangkok we took time out to go to Khon Kaen’s King Cobra Village to see the snake show. Not up to the standard of past years. The snake baiting and dodging was as skilful as ever, however, the show was over in no time. There were only three performers. All round, a little disappointing.

A couple of erroneous off ramp deviations upset the forward momentum in getting out of Bangkok but we managed to eventually get on the right route. We stayed overnight at Chai Nat, central Thailand.

Dinner at the Riverside Restaurant on the bank of the Chao Praya River – the same river that flows through Bangkok 300 kilometres downstream – was relaxing, tasty and enjoyable.

Chai Nat to Tak via Sukothai Historical Park

Sukhothai was declared a World Heritage City in 2005. It is home to a vast number of historical sites and temple ruins. As the first capital of Siam, the Sukhothai Kingdom (1238 – 1438) was the cradle of Thai civilisation – the birthplace of Thai art, architecture and language. The Sukothai Historical Park is a must see.

Wat Mahathat

Wat Mai

The Andaman Resort in Tak, where we stayed, takes its name from the cooling breeze that comes in daily from the Andaman Sea to the west.

Tak to Sukothai via Mae Sot

The drive along Route 12/Highway 105 through the Tenasserim Hills/Dawna Range was one of the highlights of the trip. The transit through the mountains is known as the Gateway to South Asia. It is a magnificent example of road engineering in a difficult environment. In the 60 kilometres of mountains there are more than 200 bends in the road, some extremely tight.

Along the way we stopped at the Mu Soe Hill Tribes Markets – as clean and well setup as any market I have seen in Thailand – near Doi Mu Soe, the highest point on the trip at 870 metres.

Back on Route 12/Highway 105 and it is exhilarating driving. Plenty of twists and turns, sweeping bends and great scenery. We stopped at a lookout over the Taksin Maharat National Park.

Before going in to Mae Sot we drove through Mae Kasa, a small rural village north of the city, to a waterfall and, further on, a hot spring.

At Mae Sot we drove out to the markets at the Friendship Bridge, had lunch and then headed back along Route 12/Highway 105 for another go at the twists and turns on that great drive through the mountains.

Sukothai to Lom Sak

I had a great drive through the Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park although the experience was tarnished somewhat by the rip off entry fee of ฿500 for Foreigners (฿40 for Thais).

We intended to stay at Phu Thap Boek but they wanted ฿2000 for a hovel plus no restaurants plus crowded plus crazy/dangerous layout. The drive down the mountain to Lom Sak bordered on manic, dodging tuk tuks, road-making machinery, potholes, dogs and other cars.

Lom Sak to Chaiyaphum

Another great drive through hills to Khao Kor.

On the drive to Petchabun a road bully in a black Ford Ranger was tailgating us (we had nowhere to go being right behind another vehicle) and eventually went to the inside lane, maintained position at our window and threatened us.

Chaiyaphum to Khao Yai

It was an easy drive from Chaiyapum to Khao Yai and we arrived in the early afternoon. Finding somewhere to stay was a challenge. Then finding somewhere to eat was a further challenge.

Khao Yai to Wang Nam Khiao

We took rural roads through hilly country from Khao Yai to Wang Nam Khiao, arriving in time for lunch.

Stay at Favaree after checking out many guest houses. Drove to the lookout at Pha Keb Tawan but the heat haze destroyed the view.

Wang Nam Khiao to BKK

Before heading to Bangkok we re-visited Pha Keb Tawan.

Easy drive to Bangkok that got more stressful as we got closer to the city. Eventually made it Sukhumvit 101 without incident.

© Kim Epton 2019
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