Traversing the precarious and deadly road from Chiang Mai to Pai in Northern Thailand on a 125 CC scooter had proven to be a demanding task.

The mountainous road of sharp turns, mad drivers and precipitous drops had taken its toll and forced us into the jungles. 

From Chiang Mai to Pai Motorcycle
In search of an alternative to the dangerous road we had set out so naively on from Chiang Mai, we had taken our scooters on a trip through the Thai jungle. The road may have been incredibly scenic, but it was hard to enjoy the views when mini buses came hurtling around every turns towards us. And our tiny motorcycles were hardly going to give much protection against that.

From Chiang Mai to Pai Motorcycle
I was leading our small fleet of bikes through the jungle roads instead now. Things were quieter, but rather than cutting off any distance as we’d hoped to, the day was beginning to draw to a close. The sun was slowly setting on the mountains and we were far from Pai.

Travel Tramp
As we drove deeper into the jungles the road began to disintegrate. We passed a few small villages, mostly made up of ramshackle huts here and there. We loaded up on supplies- whiskey, coke and crisps- where we could, fearing that inevitably the jungle would be our resting place for the night. The plan to get from Chiang Mai to Pai in a day had long ago been crushed in the dirt of our bike tracks.

With headlights on, and only a vague idea of where we were, it would be down to sheer luck if we found anywhere other than the jungle floor to sleep on. And worryingly, wild dogs seemed to be following us from village to village as the light left the sky and the jungle canopy grew thicker around us.

From Chiang Mai to Pai Motorcycle
Then out of nowhere a randomly placed sign in English glinted in the headlights of my bike. In the middle of the jungle, there was a sign advertising a guesthouse ahead. And sure enough, up ahead there were a few large huts in the trees. We pulled up, and for the night the 4 of us shared the basic comfort of a wooden floor. ‘Guesthouse’ was a rather liberal translation.

From Chiang Mai to Pai Motorcycle
I woke up the next morning to find we were immersed in the forest.  Huts and houses dotted the treeline here and there and the road we had to take was nothing more than a muddy track through the trees. There was only one way for us to go though, and that was forwards.

From Chiang Mai to Pai Motorcycle
After a few hours of riding along the jungle paths- with a bit of off roading here and there for good measure- we emerged onto the main roads once again. We were high up in the mountains now and soon enough there was a road sign for Pai. We were still on the right route from Chiang Mai to Pai, just slightly delayed and with a few detours under our wheels.

From Chiang Mai to Pai Motorcycle
We may have been back on our way but we still had what could feasibly be a spine breaking descent to make from the pass. And the road was every bit as horrifying as it had been on the way up-only this time our scooters weren’t struggling to pick up any speed.

From Chiang Mai to Pai Motorcycle
The road widened as it flattened out and became slightly less terrifying- at least by Asian road standards that is. I was now ticking down the kilometers until we reached what to us had become our now fabled, even mythical destination. The worst of the journey was over. The road from Chiang Mai to Pai is only 100 kilometres, but those kilometres had taken almost 2 days to ride.

You can find Part I of The Road from Chiang Mai to Pai here. Although you probably should have read it first. 

Richard Collett

For more practical advice on travelling from Chiang Mai to Pai, then check out this blog here.

For more ridiculous attempts at motorcycling then you can read about the disastrous ride on Cambodia’s deadly roads- ‘Dirt Roads and Crashed Bikes- A New Year’s in Cambodia’

My partner in crime for this trip now has his own video blog, showing people how to travel the world on a budget. Check it out at TheLifeOfJord.